Awareness Equals Success
The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff abroad is of primary importance. We aim to provide the following resources to equip our travelers with the tools for safe and healthy travel. Please note the following:
Review the UMass Lowell Health Services information on current health advisories on the Health Services website.
- Students, faculty and staff are ultimately responsible to assure their own health and safety.
- UMass Lowell provides, courtesy, an International Emergency & Accident Insurance Plan to all approved travelers.
- The Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences requires all approved study abroad & international experience participants to attend a pre-departure workshop where these resources, the insurance plan & it's travel app, a personal emergency action plan, as well as tips and reminders are covered in-detail.
U.S. State Department Resources and Advisories
Although unpredictable events occur throughout the world, preparation and information is key to a healthy and safe experience abroad. It is important to keep track of individual health and safety issues, and be aware of current events and situations while abroad, such as weather, worldwide health trends, location-specific, and political factors, etc. Awareness of these matters will help to create a successful experience abroad. We strongly encourage all travelers to review the U.S. State Department website specific to the country of travel for important information. Additionally, it is important that you to register with the Department of State before you travel. Please visit the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to enroll.
Recommendations by the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation for general health and safety:
- Safety and Security for U.S. Students Traveling Abroad
- "Game of Pawns": 30 minute video to increase student awareness of the possibility of foreign recruitment against the U.S. or major U.S. companies. This video is the story of an American student who, in 2004, was studying abroad in Shanghai when he was coerced into working as a spy for the Chinese government.
Alcohol &Drug Use
Use of any drugs not prescribed by a medical professional or in a recreational manner is prohibited by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Students abroad will be subject to the same rules and regulations as they would be on campus. Illicit substance use has an array of different consequences across various host countries and can have grave legal consequences based on said country's drug policies. While alcohol may not carry the same legal consequences as illicit substances, alcohol abuse, or excessive use, will not be tolerated, as in line with University policies. Alcohol misuse can also lead to endangering oneself and others as inebriation creates unsafe scenarios in unfamiliar spaces. Alcohol and/or drug misuse can seriously jeopardize safety but also your participation in any study abroad program, up to the point of dismissal from said program.
Safety in Housimg
While most housing situations will never see any difficulties, it is important to communicate to your on site staff and the University if a living situation is unsuitable physically, mentally, or emotionally. In most cases, our partners are prepared to deal with these situations as they have much experience with these matters. In these situations, partners generally have other families available to relocate students into a more suitable environment. For students that are living independently in apartments, it is important to research the host country and the average living conditions there. If these situations become unsafe, our partners will assist in locating new apartments. It is important to distinguish what is "uncomfortable" and what is "unsafe." Culture shock may arise early on in new living situations and some uncomfortability should be expected.
Health Insurance is a Must
UMass Lowell requires that all students maintain their primary medical insurance coverage, valid in both the U.S. and host country, before, during and after the education abroad period.
The University System provides international insurance coverage and services to UMass Lowell students, faculty and staff who are participating in a University sponsored and approved study abroad program. Information on this coverage, such as the policy number, coverage, certificate and contact information is given during Pre-Departure Orientation. This insurance is no charge to the traveler. General coverage can be reviewed on the UMass Treasurer's Office website.
Prior to departure, students & families should still contact their personal health insurance company to make certain they understand what additional coverage they may have in place, or may want to put in place, while traveling abroad. Any additional coverage purchased would be at the traveler's own expense.
We encourage students to research their country emergency line (911 equivalent) as soon as, if not before, they arrive in country. Having this saved in your phone will allow quick access to your host country's security resources, i.e. police. Contacting police is the first step students should take in the event of an immediate emergency. Afterward it is important to notify your on-site staff and coordinators as well as our office back in the U.S. All U.S. Embassies have staff available 24/7 making them valuable resources that students should make themselves aware of. We encourage students to familiarize themselves with their insurance provider, its policies, and how to contact it if a medical emergency were to arise. After all previously mentioned parties are notified, it is encouraged to contact family members.
If you don't have one already, apply for one as soon as possible. Make sure your passport will be valid for at least six months after the end date of your study abroad program, or the date of your departure. If you need to apply for, or renew your passport, visit the State Department website for instructions.
Immigration, Visas, and Embassies
The Office of Study Abroad and International Experiences can also assist you through the visa application process. Also, you will need to register with the Department of State before you travel. Please visit the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
Once you have been accepted into your program and know your specific program dates, start researching flights. There are many online resources for cheap student fares, for example, check out the Student Universe website. Agencies focused on student travel often offer student discounts and additional travel resources.
Learn About Your Destination
Before you go, it is important to learn as much as possible about the country where you will be studying. Go online to read about current events, familiarize yourself with the history of the country and become aware of cultural differences and customs. It is strongly recommended to review the country information available on the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Country-specific consulate websites are full of information for visitors, as are online travel guides and travel blogs.
Maintaining Good Health While Traveling and Vaccination Considerations
- The UMass Lowell Wellness Center offers information regarding current health advisories.
- Vaccinations & discussing your personal health prep with a professional:
- The personal health self-assessment can be used as a guide to begin thinking about what you may need to prepare for with your international travel. This is for personal use and is not required to be turned-in to the study abroad office.
- UMass Lowell Health Services can offer you some travel-related vaccinations and offer you advice. Please contact them first to help reduce costs.
- In addition to UMass Lowell Health Services, travel clinics are available at Lawrence General Hospital or Lahey Hospital.
- Country-specific and general wellness while traveling resources:
- It is mandatory that you familiarize yourself with the CDC recommendations for travel to your location.
- The CDC has great mobile resources to explore.
- If you are managing a chronic illness (this can be asthma, food allergies or various other illnesses), please read this helpful guide from GOAbroad.com (pdf)
- It is mandatory that you familiarize yourself with the U.S. State Dept information for your location.
- The State Dept has a dedicated page for student travel.
Accessibility or Disability
You can request disability related Travel Abroad Accommodations from the UMass Lowell Office of Student Disability Services. Request must be made in a timely matter and cannot fundamentally alter the Study Abroad Program. Disability Services is located in The Wellness Center in University Crossings and can be contacted via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-934-2809.