Health & Safety

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Health While Abroad
We strongly encourage parents to honestly talk with their students about their health and health‑related practices. Going abroad is not a cure for concerns and problems. In particular, if there is concern about your student’s use of alcohol and other substances, or if your student has an emotional health concern, this should be addressed openly before departure.

Students should visit their physician(s) and dentist to ensure good health before travel. Organize medications, prescription renewals, and any special medical supplies that may be necessary while abroad. Students will need a physician’s prescription for medications and medical supplies to pass through immigration and customs. If you expect your student to need regular medical care while abroad, have their physician write a letter of introduction that outlines details of the medical condition and specific healthcare needs of the student.  If you are comfortable doing so, please disclose this information to The Program at the time of enrollment, as this information allows our staff members to better assist students to manage their own health. 

We recommend that you also review your insurance policies with your student.  Discuss the following questions with your student:

  • If your insurance carrier will reimburse for medical care abroad, what type of documentation will the student need to collect?
  • If you have to pay up front for a hospital visit and be reimbursed later, how will the student pay for this visit? Will your family plan for an “emergency fund” that the student can access?

For more information about medical insurance, please refer to the “Health and Safety” sections under each location.
What should I do if my student is sick while abroad?
Encourage your student to contact an staff member immediately. ISAs hold a 24/7 duty phone at each location for participants to call for assistance in situations like this. staff can connect students to medical services if they require them or simply check in closely if they are in need of some support or reassurance. For many, this may be the first time they are ill while away from home, and our staff can be a comfort to participants who are feeling stressed. If a student does require medical care, site staff will encourage students to contact their parents directly to update them. However, should a student be unable to communicate with you, staff will provide the initial notification.

Establish a plan to keep in contact with your student.
Knowing that your student is sick and so far away may be difficult to deal with. Talk to your student before departure about what your expectations are for communication if he or she is sick. Reiterate these expectations with your student so that you can receive proactive updates. Should participants be unable to communicate with you, the staff can step in and help facilitate connections between students and parents.