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Health and Safety

Safety considerations are a key component of each education abroad program.  Georgia College adheres to the professional standards of safety and risk management in education abroad.  Georgia College is a member of the Forum for Education Abroad, which sets the national standard of good practices. The International Education Center implements the Forum’s Standard 8 on safety abroad and risk assessment.  In addition, the International Education Center monitors world events through a variety of government-based resources, including the Overseas Security and Advisory Council (OSAC), the U.S. Department of State, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other foreign-based resources, including but not limited to: the British Foreign Service and Commonwealth Office and the Canadian Foreign Travel Advice websites. Georgia College also works closely with its foreign university partners and study abroad affiliates for ‘on-the-ground’ understanding of local events or concerns related to the Worldwide Travel Caution.  All Georgia College organized programs require students, faculty, and staff to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Additionally, all study abroad students, faculty, and staff are enrolled in mandatory comprehensive medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance plans. All of this information is delivered in pre-departure group orientations or in one-on-one advising sessions.  For more information, e-mail studyabroadinfo@gcsu.edu or call (478) 445-4789. 

In case of an emergency
Researching the location(s) of your travels abroad
Money and Documents
Medications and Chronic conditions
Preventative actions
Insurance
Zika

The information provided in this section is designed for students preparing to go abroad. Students who are well-prepared for their travels abroad tend to be more successful and happier with the experience. Should an emergency occur while you are on study abroad, please first contact your in-country study abroad program director, who will manage the situation. If for some reason you cannot contact your program director, please contact immediately: 
 
International Education Center
Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
+1-478-445-4789
or
Georgia College Public Safety 
24 hours 
+1-478-445-4400

 
Also, be prepared to contact the local police and possibly the U.S. Embassy. And don't forget to call your parents to alert them of the situation!
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Research your location: When you are traveling remember that customs and communication styles differ across the world. Knowledge of those different customs and communication styles can help you remain safe. You need to be very aware of the image you present as you walk down the street, engage in your classes, or interact with professors, students and strangers. Some regions, countries and cities are safer than many locations in the U.S., while others will be more dangerous. The best way to prevent unpleasant encounters is to remain acutely aware of your surroundings. Dress appropriately, be aware of where you are, where you are going, who is around you, and where your personal belongings are. This Department of State Web site for student travel also provides some good general guidelines that are worth reading for students planning to travel abroad.

If you will be traveling to developing regions of the world, you will find the Center for Disease Control Web site extremely helpful. At this site, you will be able to select your destination to determine any additional health risks, packing advice, as well as any additional inoculations that may be required.


When staying in a foreign country for a period of time and not as part of an organized group, it may be a good idea for you to register with the U.S. Embassy nearest to you. You can do this online at the Department of State Web site or you may visit the Embassy, which is generally located in the capital city. The U.S. Embassy will be able to provide you with important information and assistance in the event of an emergency.
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Money and important documents: Never travel with large amounts of cash; instead travel with credit or debit cards, as they are insured and easily replaced.  Be sure to keep photocopies, or at least write down the numbers of your cards and checks and keep the documentation in a safe place that is not with the card (often a pocket on your luggage or a desk drawer is a good place to store such documents). You will need to contact your bank(s) and notify them of your impending travels. Specify the location(s) and dates that you plan to travel. Verify that your bank will allow you to utilize your card(s) at your destination and determine the number that you should phone from your destination should your card(s) become lost or stolen.

Be sure to keep copies of your passport, visa and other identification in a safe place. This will make it easier to obtain replacements should the original become lost or destroyed. Also, give copies of these documents to your parents or other trusted friends or relatives.
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Medications and chronic conditions: If you take prescription medications, be sure to bring enough refills for the duration of your stay. Also bring a handwritten prescription to assist a local doctor with a new prescription in the event that you should run out or your originals become lost or destroyed. Be certain the prescription specifies the Latin terms for the medication as well as dosage; brand names and dosages do vary from country to country. Keep ALL prescriptions in the original container. You may be required to dispose of them or could be detained by security in the airport if prescriptions are inappropriately stored. IF you take multiple prescriptions, narcotics, or injection prescriptions, BE SURE to carry a letter from your doctor explaining the use(s) of the medications. Without this documentation you could be required to destroy the medications or could be detained by the airport security.

Over-the-counter medications (such as pain relievers, fever reducers, and vitamins) should also be carried in the original container. If you wear contact lenses or glasses, bring a spare pair, as well as a replacement prescription.

If you have any chronic conditions, i.e. allergies, eating disorders, diabetes, etc., psychological, or emotional issues, you should contact your doctor(s) before departing. Get written documentation that clearly specifies if and how your special needs can be accommodated. It is your responsibility to alert the International Education Center, your in-country study abroad director, roommates, etc. to the situation and provide them the information necessary to take care of you in the event that you are unable to care for yourself.
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Preventative measures: It is a good idea to prepare or purchase a simple First Aid kit that includes over-the-counter medications that you are familiar with, e.g., antiseptic cream, pain relievers, fever reducers, upset stomach/diarrhea medication, etc.

To prevent illness from the physical shock of changing environment, be sure to drink plenty of clear fluids (mostly water, bottled if you are in a developing region), eat a well-rounded diet, and get plenty of sleep. This will also help decrease the effects of jet lag.

Travel abroad is not a time to experiment with reducing medication dosages or drugs and alcohol. If you take medication regularly while at home, follow your doctors orders while abroad as well. Additionally, if you are not accustomed to consuming alcohol while taking medication, please do not start while abroad. Travel abroad is stressful enough as it is due to altered routines, diets, activity levels and embarking on the unknown. The addition of more variables (such as taking yourself off medication or excessive alcohol use) will only compound matters and potentially lead to not only personal trouble, but potentially legal trouble.
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Insurance: All students traveling abroad are required by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to carry additional insurance that covers medical evacuation, medical reunion, and repatriation of remains. Most packaged study or intern abroad programs will include the cost of this insurance as part of the program fee. In the event that insurance must be purchased separately, the study abroad advisers in the International Education Center can assist with enrollment in the very affordable study abroad insurance program through Cultural Insurance Service International. The package provided to Georgia College by CISI includes the above mentioned benefits with no deductible, a security rider to assist with evacuation in the instance of natural or political calamity, and a helpful online portal to access information on doctors, claims and more.

Some students may also wish to purchase additional travel insurance to assist with the financial burden of delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, and family emergencies that result in cutting stay abroad short. For more information about travel insurance, please contact your local travel agent.
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Zika: The International Education Center (IEC) makes safety abroad a top priority and makes reasonable efforts to respond to health and safety notices received from the Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control for Latin American countries and other worldwide locations. Further, Georgia College has enrolled students on Georgia College faculty-led study abroad programs in the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Students traveling abroad outside of Georgia College programs are encouraged to register in the STEP program by themselves.

Georgia College recommends students, faculty, and staff to monitor US Embassy security messages on http://travel.state.gov in case official messages and security updates are provided for their host country and/or other country destinations. Students are also encouraged to visit the U.S. Embassy websites for the countries to which they will travel, and review the information on U.S. Citizen Services at those embassies.

The IEC is being advised and working closely with public health officials on matters pertaining to health safety in regions affected by the Zika virus. Per Georgia College policies, there are currently no prohibitions regarding the Zika virus preventing Georgia College study abroad travel in Latin American or Caribbean countries.
 
Individuals are strongly encouraged to refer to the CDC’s current information and advisement at: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.
 
In the event Georgia College becomes aware of a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning for any areas impacted by Zika or should further health and safety developments indicate the need to suspend a Georgia College study abroad program, the Office of International Education and its risk management team will work with students to identify necessary support.
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