Health & Safety
The health and safety of Loyola's study-abroad students is our top priority. We carefully monitor global situations that might affect students' safety abroad, selecting and reviewing program sites accordingly.
Loyola adheres to an approach of "shared responsibility" for health and safety issues, meaning that responsibility for each program participant's health and safety is shared by several people. Each study-abroad student ultimately carries most of the responsibility for his/her behavior, but parents, guardians and families can play a significant role in a student's health and safety during the study-abroad experience by helping him/her make sound decisions while abroad.
The Office for International Programs (OIP) requires all Loyola students studying abroad to purchase Loyola's CISI international health and emergency services insurance plan. Details regarding the plan, its coverage and instructions on enrolling can be viewed at Loyola's Global Travel Center. Information on how students can best utilize this plan while abroad are covered at the mandatory OIP health and safety pre-depature orientation all students attend before leaving for their respective programs.
Loyola also provides study-abroad students with a wallet-size "Emergency Contact Card," which they will be instructed to carry with them at all times. This card contains contact information for Loyola and for the student's school or program provider abroad.
For additional health and safety recommendations and tips, please check out the information available on this page:
Health: Before You Leave
- Health Exams: Have a general physician exam if you haven't had one recently. You should be up to date on all shots (e.g. tetanus/diphtheria, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella). Obtain the relevant booster (s). Have a dental checkup. The last thing you need is to have your wisdom teeth impacted while abroad. Females: have a gynecological check up, if needed.
- Medical Identification: If you are allergic to penicillin or have a condition such as diabetes or another condition that may require emergency medical care, carry some sort of identification on you to that effect.
- Medical History: If you will need to see a doctor on a regular basis once you arrive overseas, inform the Study Abroad Programs Office about this before you leave and then inform the program coordinator upon arrival. Take a complete medical record to your program site, along with medical and prescription histories. Know your blood type.
- Prescriptions: If you take prescription medicine, speak to your doctor. Prescription medications vary from country to country in name, potency, and purity and may NOT be sent to you through international mail. Some medicines are even illegal in certain countries so it is best to find out beforehand. If possible, you should take sufficient medications with you to last the whole time you are abroad. Keep this medication in the original container. Also, ask you doctor for a letter to present to customs official and overseas doctors explaining what you need to take, including a generic breakdown (not just a generic name) of you medication.
- Wearers of glasses or contacts: Bring a typed copy of your prescription and a pair of glasses or contacts with you. If you wear contacts bring at least two extra pairs with you and enough cleaning supplies to last you throughout the trip.
- HIV Tests: Some countries will require you to have an HIV test after arrival as part of the requirements for a student visa or residency. If you think there is even a remote chance that you will test HIV positive, have a test done well in advance of your departure.
- Inoculations: Check with reliable authorities (we recommend www.cdc.gov) to find out what vaccinations are currently recommended for your program site. Don't delay since you may need several shots, taken weeks apart.
- Hepatitis B Vaccine: This disease is 100 times more infectious than HIV, is common on college campuses and, like AIDS, it has no cure. The disease is endemic in Alaska, the Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia and the Amazon region of South America. However, there is a vaccine. For more details contact your state Department of Health or the Center for Disease Control.
- Enrolling in Required CISI International Insurance: All Loyola study abroad students are required before they leave to enroll in Loyola's CISI international health and emergency services insurance plan. See the Loyola's Global Travel Center for details on plan coverage and the enrollment process.
Health While Abroad
- Staying Healthy: Eat well and get sufficient rest. If you become ill, get proper care. Don't hesitate to tell your host family or onsite director if you are ill and don't be afraid to visit a doctor or hospital just because you don't speak the language fluently.
- Continuing Medical Care: If you will need to see a doctor on a regular basis once you arrive overseas, inform the overseas program coordinator upon arrival (or, if possible, before arrival).
- Present Your CISI Insurance Card When Seeking Care: Make sure to present your CISI insurance card to the in-country medical provider if you need to seek care while abroad. This card will be sent to you via email after enrolling in Loyola's CISI international health and emergency services insurance plan.
- English-speaking Doctors Abroad: CISI will be able to connect you with English-speaking doctors while abroad.
- Traveler's Diarrhea: Be careful what and where you eat when traveling in developing countries. The general rule of thumb is to make sure that all fruit and vegetables are peeled and that all foods are thoroughly cooked. Avoid ice cubes or drinks made with ice if you can't be sure the water is pure. If you are unsure, seek out bottled beverages. If you have a sensitive stomach, proceed carefully with local foods. Drink plenty of liquids such as purified water or clear juices, and avoid alcoholic drinks or caffeinated sodas as these are dehydrating. Take over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicine for normal traveler's diarrhea, but if the condition lasts more than 24 hours, seek medical attention.
- Bottled or canned beverages can almost always assumed to be safe to drink.
- If you are unsure about water purity, you can also be unsure about ice purity.
- If you are afraid you won.t be able to wash your hands before eating, consider buying a hand sanitizer that does not require the use of water.
- No matter how tempting the local fruits and vegetables may look, be wary of buying them from open air markets.
- Food from restaurants is generally safe.
Safety: Before You Leave
- Document Photocopies: Before leaving, make two copies of all your important documents (passport, visa, CISI insurance card, traveler's checks, and travel itinerary). Keep these in a safe place, leaving a copy at the home in the U.S. When you don't need your passport, carry the copy. Get a police report documenting any losses. Bring 4 extra photos in the event that you need to replace your passport or obtain visas.
- Packing Valuables: Don't carry valuables in a backpack, never leave bags unattended, and never carry large amounts of cash. Take and use a lock. Take only as much luggage as you can carry and never let it out of your sight. Do not pack valuables (passports, documents, contact lenses, medications, and electrical equipment) in checked luggage.
- Airport Security: At airports you should be prepared for lengthy check-ins since thorough security checks can take time. Carry-on luggage will be X-rayed and possibly hand-searched. Do not accept packages from people you do not know well or carry packages for other travelers.
Safety While Abroad
- Carry Your Loyola Emergency Card: Loyola University Chicago will provide you with a wallet-size, laminated card with important emergency contact information on it, including your primary emergency contact in the U.S., Loyola.s 24-hour campus safety phone number, and your school or program contact information abroad. It is important that carry this card with you at all times while abroad.
- Carry Your CISI Insurance Card: After enrolling in Loyola's required CISI international health & emergency services insurance plan, CISI will provide you with an identification card that you will need to carry with you at all times. It is important to have this card on your person so that you can present it to medical providers abroad if you need to seek medical assistance.
- Register with the U.S. Department of State: Registration allows you to record information about your upcoming trip abroad that the Department of State can use to assist you in case of an emergency. It is an easy, on-line process that does not cost anything. Visit https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/.
- Be Informed: Read current newspapers and listen to TV or radio news; know what is going on in the world. Check with program staff before you travel regarding possible travel advisories and read up on the customs and political situation of every country you plan to visit. Talk to international students and program alumni from the places you intend to visit before you go. Their insights will prove very helpful.
- Watch and Learn from Locals: If they do not go out after 9 p.m. without an escort, then you shouldn't either. Ask questions of your host family, fellow dormitory residents, or your program director. If they do not make eye contact with strangers, then you shouldn't either. Talk to hostel or hotel owners, program staff, tour guides, and fellow travelers to find out which scams are in vogue with local thieves.
- Be Inconspicuous: Don't look too "North American." Don't speak loudly and draw attention to yourself. Learn a few basic language phrases for each country where you plan to travel. To avoid looking like an American tourist, don't wear t-shirts, sweatshirts, or baseball caps with North American logos. Don't wear your camera around your neck. Remember that your map can give you away. Especially in heavily touristed cities, look at city maps and metro guides before leaving your hotel.
- Be Aware: Pay attention at all times to your surroundings. Use the precautions that are customary in any major city in the world today. Travel with a friend. Plan your route and walk confidently. If you are being followed, feel threatened, or you are lost, go into a store, restaurant, or other public area. You know what feels comfortable and what doesn't. If your instincts tell you a situation is "not right," trust them and move along.
- Use Common Sense: Use your common sense and your street skills. If you wouldn't camp out in a city park at home, then don't consider doing this abroad. Avoid walking alone at night. Stay in well-populated, well-trafficked areas. Be especially cautious if you have been drinking. Avoid arguments. Be streetwise and you'll encourage thieves to pick another target.
- Guard Personal Belongings: Pickpockets can be extremely adept. Don't carry your passport or money in a hip pocket, open purse, or outside pocket on your backpack. Pickpockets mingle widely in tourist crowds, especially at airports, travel agencies, and American Express offices. A money belt or neck pouch is a good idea. If you need to sleep while in transit, use your pack as your pillow. On crowded city subways, always carry your daypack in front of you. Always have a hand or foot in a loop or strap of your luggage when you set it down to avoid having it snatched away while you're not looking.
- Organize Your Funds: Organize your funds into two separate packs each consisting of a credit card and currency. When in-country one of these packs should usually be left at your residence as a back-up. Keep the cash you are using separate from the rest of your money. Try to avoid reaching into your money belt in public places.
- Traffic and the Road: According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), statistics indicate that the single greatest cause of death and accidents. These far exceed the number of deaths resulting from disease, violence or terrorism. Avoid car or bus travel at night. Use a seatbelt. We strongly recommend that you not own or operate a motor vehicle of any kind during your time abroad. Driving regulations and habits in many countries are different from those in the U.S. and driving overseas can be potentially dangerous. Your family.s liability insurance may not be valid abroad. Pedestrians are also at risk, so be especially careful in crossing the street. Never assume that you have the right of way.
Pay particular attention to all of the following, which are common on the roads of many countries:
-Passing on the right and cutting in front of other vehicles from the right side.
-Unexpected stops or turns without signaling for no apparent reason.
-Stopping in unexpected locations to pick up or let off passengers, including main highway entrance ramps, intersections and along major highways.
-Trucks parked at night without lights on the highway rather than on the side of the road.
-Disabled vehicles parked without warning signs.
- Do Not Hitchhike. CAUTION TO WOMEN. Learn quickly those situations where you might be harassed or molested. You have not only the normal burden of sexism, but in many places you also have to contend with the notion that as a Western woman you might be considered promiscuous. Observe the behavior of the local women. Find out about non-verbal messages (eye contact, tone, gestures, and dress) to avoid or adopt. If you are verbally harassed on the street, the best path is to ignore it unless you are touched or your safety is threatened. Again, be very careful about alcohol consumption. Women who have been drinking leave themselves more vulnerable to sexual assault.
- Avoid Demonstrations, especially in politically volatile countries. What appears to be a peaceful situation could suddenly become dangerous and you could become caught in the middle.
- Leave Your Travel Itinerary With Someone: Provide your travel itinerary to your family back home and to friends while traveling. Always tell someone where you are going. Draft a list of important telephone numbers and addresses of the locations you are to visit and the telephone number of your nearest embassy or consulate. Leave a copy with your contact person.
- Cellular Telephone: In some locations you might be able to sign up for cellular telephone service. This can be very useful and can save a great deal of trouble.
- Be aware of your surroundings; foreigners are easily identified as theft targets.
- Do not leave briefcases or purses on the floor or hanging from a chair in a restaurant.
- Avoid walking alone at night, even if you are familiar with the area.
- Choose safe, reliable transportation.
- Leave jewelry and expensive watches at home.
- Do not carry large amounts of cash, ATM cards, or credit cards.
- Do not carry your passport or visa. It is preferable to carry a photocopy of these documents and leave the original in a safe place.
- Do not drink and swim
- Make sure that luggage has identification inside and out
- Avoid large public gatherings of people like demonstrations, celebrations, etc.
- Provide your family with emergency contact information, and keep them informed on an ongoing basis. Include information on any travel away from the program site.
U.S. Government Resources on Health and Safety:
- The Centers for Disease Control, at www.cdc.gov/travel: The Web page offers reference information, reports on specific disease outbreaks, and offers geographic health recommendations.
- The United States Department, at www.state.gov and www.travel.state.gov: The Web pages offer Consular Information Sheets for every country of the world. They include such information as unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, drug penalties, current travel warnings and public announcements. The sites are also a good resource to find country specific safety information.
Other Online Resources:
- Loyola's Global Travel Center with information on Loyola's CISI insurnace plan, at www.luc.edu/oip/travelcenter.shtml
- Travel Health Online, at www.tripprep.com
- World Health Organization, at http://www.who.org/
Parts of this web page taken from original materials prepared for use at the University of Colorado at Boulder in March 2003. Reprinted with permission.