Safety, Security, and Well-being Abroad
Study Abroad at St. Edward’s University oversees credit-bearing, international experiences for undergraduate students and, as such, places the utmost importance on the safety, security, and well-being of all students participating in programs abroad. While abroad, students are exposed wholly to a new culture along with all of the associated opportunities and risks of the environment.
St. Edward’s maintains an International Travel Policy that outlines the University's stance on restricted travel and also provides comprehensive overseas insurance and travel assistance program for Faculty-led programs, St. Edward’s in Angers programs, and all exchange programs. We ensure that all sponsored programs included similar comprehensive insurance for our students who participate in these programs. Additionally, Study Abroad monitors daily the security situation worldwide. We rely on information from:
- Program Staff, international partners
- Chubb Travel Assistance Program
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council
- Travel Alerts
- Local Embassies and Government Agencies
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
All study abroad students have access to study abroad advisers who can provide health and safety information, direct them to further resources, and address concerns. We provide pre-departure orientations for all of our study abroad students before leaving campus. While we remain a resource to students before, during, and after their time abroad, we emphasize that students must take personal responsibility for their own safety, security, and well-being while abroad.
Although no one can guarantee completely a student's safety, security, and well-being—at home, on campus, or abroad—there are steps each student can take to mitigate risk and make the most of the experience. We strongly recommend that students carefully read through the information and resources we have provided in this section of the website. Please contact Study Abroad with any questions or concerns.
We encourage you to review the following in order to be informed of pertinent health and safety considerations prior to your study abroad experience.
Health and Safety Information and Resources
Strategies for Remaining Vigilant
Your health and safety abroad largely depends not on what might be happening around you, but on the responsible decisions you make before you leave and while you’re abroad. Prioritize your health and safety above all else when making decisions.
- Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and ensure your Study Abroad Portal Profile is up to date with all relevant contact information.
- Trust your instincts.
- Keep your cell phone charged and with you.
- Carry contact information for your program staff and the in-country, 911-equivalent emergency number(s).
- Remain alert to your surroundings, even if you become uncomfortable.
- Know what activities are culturally and legally appropriate.
- Stay informed about current events in your host country. Learn to assess unfamiliar situations and possible risks in your new country.
- When traveling away from your program site, make sure that your program staff and family know where you’re going and when you’re expected to return.
- Avoid demonstrations, or if you find yourself caught up in one, stay far from the center of activity. Do not document the event with your phone or camera.
- Stay away from high crime areas, and if out at night, make sure you and your friends have a safe way home. Avoid walking alone at night whenever possible.
In an Emergency
In an emergency, it is imperative that you first contact local, on-the-ground support in order to receive the urgent assistance needed. Next, utilize the services of your travel assistance, which includes emergency services, such as evacuation, if needed. Then, notify St. Edward’s through the 24/7 UPD number. SEU Study Abroad is only open during business hours. Finally, contact your family to update them and ensure they know how to reach you.
If you are traveling with faculty or staff: Faculty or staff on-site at your study abroad program are the fastest and most helpful resource in an emergency. Contact them first for immediate assistance.
Travel Assistance Program: 1-855-327-1414 (Toll Free), 1-630-694-9764 (Direct), medassist-usa [at] axa-assistance.us.
During Business Hours (M-F, 8:00-5:00 pm):
Moody Hall 102
studyabroad [at] stedwards.edu
NOTE: Study Abroad staff does not regularly check email or voicemail over weekends and holidays. Time zones might also make it hard to receive a timely response.
After Hours 24/7:
University Police Department (UPD)
Holy Cross Hall, G13
campus.safety [at] stedwards.edu
St. Edward’s Travel Assistance Program
For students on exchange, faculty-led and SEU in Angers programs, they are able to utilize the CHUBB Travel Assistance Program. Students on sponsored programs must either use the St. Edward’s Travel Assistance program, or show proof that they have purchased the sponsored program travel assistance provided by the sponsor. All students who go abroad through Study Abroad must have access to a comprehensive travel assistance program.
Chubb provides 24/7/365 service, including, but not limited to:
- medical and dental referrals
- mental health support
- coordination of payment for out-of-country medical bills (for coverage up to $150,000 )*
- access to real-time security and safety information
- facilitation of emergency evacuations
- translation services
- assistance with replacement of lost travel documents
*CHUBB provides coverage for up to $150,000 in out-of-country medical expenses for treatment of illness or injury that occur while participating in your program. This coverage includes 14 days of personal travel deviation outside of the program dates. (Note: Travel assistance and evacuation coverage applies at all times. Only the out-of-country medical expenses are limited to the program dates and 14 additional days.) This is not health insurance and cannot cover routine costs.
To contact CHUBB for assistance:
Call the in-country numbers listed on the card or call the phone numbers 1-855-327-1414 (toll-free). You may ask the operator to reverse the charges.
Have the Policy number ready when you call: ADDN17928665. This number can also be found on your card.
When in doubt, contact CHUBB. They are happy to help with your inquiry and will direct you as necessary.
Before you go:
- Download, print, the one-page flyer. Carry your card at the bottom of the flyer with you while you travel.
- Save a picture of the card in your Google Drive or on the phone/device you will take abroad.
- Tell your family about the service. Send them the flyer or a copy of the card.
- Inform your onsite study abroad program staff that you are covered by this service.
- Contact CHUBB to discuss any health or security concerns related to your destination.
Physical and Mental Health
When studying abroad, it is important to recognize that your health may be affected in unexpected ways. Due to changes in your environment—including time zone, climate, food, and water—even well-managed conditions can be more challenging abroad. Studying abroad, like any transition, can bring about an onset, return, or increase in symptoms.
We require you have a medical examination before you embark on your study abroad experience, especially if you receive treatment for a pre-existing condition. Talk with your primary care physician about specific steps to maintain your healthcare plan and to assess if any special accommodations might be needed abroad.
We also encourage you to speak with your study abroad program in advance. Disclosing a physical and/or mental health condition to your program staff will allow them to have a plan to assist you in managing your health. It is especially useful to let your program know if you:
- Need specific accommodations abroad (physical or academic)
- Are currently taking prescription medication
- Are being treated for a current mental health or physical condition
- Have severe allergies
Bear in mind that approaches to, and systems of, health care may be different than what you are accustomed to at home. Bring with you abroad any pertinent health documentation such as immunization records, prescriptions, or eye glasses or contact prescriptions.
Sexual Harassment or Assault Abroad
Cultural sensitivity does not mean that you need to submit to behaviors that invade your personal boundaries or that make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Educating yourself about sexual harassment, violence, and gender dynamics abroad can empower you and your friends to make safer choices. We encourage you to talk with your host family, your program, and local students to understand these cultural differences better.
- Consider cultural sensitivity & your personal boundaries
- Learn social norms about personal space, touching, and gender dynamics
- Balance independence with your own safety
- Trust your gut
- Tell someone
Support if you have been harassed or assaulted
First and foremost, if you are the victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault, remember that it is not your fault. If you are sexually assaulted while abroad, or if you feel you have been harassed, we encourage you to contact your in-country support (program director/faculty leader/international student office). They are the best first resource for you since they not only have the cultural knowledge, but can also advise you about next steps legally and medically in that country.
St. Edward’s University resources also remain available to you while abroad if you would like additional support and/or if you do not feel comfortable speaking with your in-country support.
Remember that a high priority is placed on confidentiality in these situations.
If you need immediate assistance or medical attention, contact one of the following:
Faculty or staff on-site at your study abroad program
Travel Assistance Program: 1-855-327-1414 (Toll Free), 1-630-694-9764 (Direct), medassist-usa [at] axa-assistance.us
After Hours 24/7: University Police Department (UPD, )[+001] 512-448-8444, campus.safety [at] stedwards.edu
During Business Hours, Study Abroad, Moody Hall 102, [+001] 512-448-1051, studyabroad [at] stedwards.edu
Country-Specific Health & Safety Information
Stay informed of current health and security considerations in your proposed country of study. You should refer to these resources as you determine the most appropriate program abroad, during pre-departure planning, and when traveling within or outside of your study abroad location:
- U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories
- U.S. Department of State Students Abroad Site
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
- The U.S. Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council provides a list of travel/safety mobile apps
Awareness of Local Laws
You are always subject to the laws of your host country, and any country to which you travel. You do not have any special privilege as a U.S. citizen, as a citizen of a country outside your host country, or as a St. Edward’s student. Neither SEU nor the local U.S. Consulate can intervene or secure your release from jail if you get arrested. Should you develop legal problems in the country where you are living, you have the sole responsibility to attend to the matter at your expense and with your own personal funds. For more information, please review the U.S. Department of State Guidance on Arrest or Detention Abroad.
Alcohol and Drugs
Alcohol and drug use affects both your health and safety abroad. Intoxication in any form increases your personal risk. If you decide to drink alcohol while abroad, you should be aware of the minimum legal drinking age and drink responsibly. Never travel with or use illegal drugs, including marijuana.
Laws pertaining to alcohol and drugs will likely be different in your host country. While you may consider some laws to be more lenient, others can be much more severe (including the death penalty in some countries). You are expected to educate yourself not only on the minimum legal drinking age, but also on the legal blood alcohol level, legality of possessing and using different substances, and penalties for public intoxication and driving while under the influence.