Today’s world is increasingly unpredictable, with local conditions that can rapidly change. Total safety cannot be guaranteed abroad just as it cannot be in the United States. The Study Abroad Office is committed to take the necessary steps to maximize student safety through working with our study abroad partners both here and abroad, scheduled student advising and orientation sessions, and materials distribution. The top eight things every student should do before going abroad are:
- Research the country you are going to and find out as much as possible about its contemporary life. There are many sources for this information, but a good place to start is:
(a) (b)local news papers – look for links under the World News tab on the SAO homepage, and (c) (d) Contact a Study Abroad Alum and talk to them about their experience. Ask an SAO advisor for names and contact information. Many of our program affiliates also have alumni contacts with students from all over the U.S. who may have gone on the program you’re thinking about.
- Visit your doctor and/or a travel clinic and discuss your medical history and travel plans. An on-campus option is the UIC School of Public Health Travel Clinic.
- Register with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your program country through the State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
- Find out where your home country’s closest embassy/consulate is located.
- U.S. citizens: U.S. State Department
- Non-U.S. citizens: please check with your nationality’s foreign affairs ministry or State Department-equivalent
- Become familiar with U.S. State Department services for U.S. citizens.
- Know where to look for U.S. State Department announcements.
Embassy Notices are announcements from a U.S. embassy or consulate in a specific country. These announcements update citizens about a possible event that may cause disruptions in parts of the country and advises citizens on maintaining their safety. You will receive Embassy Notices after you sign up with STEP.The Worldwide Caution is a general announcement from Washington, D.C. advising U.S. citizens about the general risk of international travel, especially from acts of terrorism.Travel Alerts are announcements for short-term events the U.S. State Department thinks travelers should know about when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of Ebola; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, the State Department cancels the Travel Alert. If a Travel Alert is issued, please be more conscientious of your safety; follow all advice that the U.S. State Department and your program give; as well as adhere to all safety procedures and protocol for your program.Travel Warnings are issued when the U.S. State Department wants citizens overseas to consider very carefully whether they should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include, unstable governments, civil war, on-going intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. The purpose of these Travel Warnings is to let travelers know the risks of visiting those places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes. Some have been in place for years.
Note: If a program ends prematurely as a result of a Travel Warning being issued, the Study Abroad Office will work with students, partners overseas, faculty and administrators on campus to minimize any loss of finances and academic credit. However, the University of Illinois cannot guarantee that the student will not experience some financial or academic loss.
- Attend a pre-departure orientation. All students going abroad through the Study Abroad Office are required to attend a pre-departure orientation meeting in order to be registered as a continuing UIC student while abroad. At this session the SAO staff review all university policies regarding academics, behavior, and safety issues.
- Theft, Trip Cancellation, and Other Insurance. We recommend that you consider buying supplemental insurance coverage addressing trip interruption or cancellation and theft. These may be two different insurance policies. You can search for these policies through your personal travel agent or online. Sometimes the credit card with which you purchase airline tickets will provide some coverage.