Health & Safety

Photo taken in Italy by Caitlin Sebesta.

The health and safety of students abroad is of utmost importance to the University at Buffalo and the Office of Study Abroad Programs.

In order to facilitate management of risks, the study abroad staff takes a number of measures to help promote proactive planning and safety while abroad.

These measures include: 

  • Daily monitoring of world-wide situations affecting US students abroad using reliable sources
  • Individual advising around health and safety concerns
  • Individual and group training prior to program departure
  • Up to date and relevant online resources and training
  • Emergency planning and response
  • Good communication with students, faculty advisors, campus staff, overseas partners, parents, on-site staff, etc.
  • Comprehensive international insurance coverage to all participants.

Life is filled with risks, but we try to minimize these risks on our programs. Although no one can guarantee safety or security in any part of the world, international travel can be very safe, especially if one takes specific steps to prepare for it.

General Preparedness - Physical and Mental Health

Student Health Information Form – part of the post-decision documents in the online application portal. Be sure it is completed and discuss it with your primary physician (including prescription medications).

Make sure you have enough medication for the length of your stay, prescription refills may be hard to obtain abroad.

Sometimes the stress of culture shock can aggravate pre-existing depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns – discuss with your treatment provider and make a coping plan ahead of time.

Be aware and informed about communicative diseases that may be impacting the world regions you are traveling to:

    U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) www.cdc.gov

    World Health Organization (WHO) www.who.int

Personal Safety Abroad

Study abroad students can be perceived as easy targets. We strongly suggest you to be aware, be careful, and use common sense at all times.

No matter how safe you feel and how trusting you are, you must always stay mentally alert so that you make wise decisions. 

Be especially cautious at night. Avoid public demonstrations and large gatherings of people. 

Realize that you are easily identified as a tourist and might be targeted for that reason.  You can minimize risks and avoid obvious dangers by keeping a low profile.

We encourage students to be responsible with alcohol and other substances while studying abroad. 

  • Harm reduction – be mindful of the potential risks of using too much alcohol or other substances in an unfamiliar environment.
  • Don’t go out drinking by yourself, have a buddy system in place.
  • Don’t accept beverages from people that you don’t know, the drink may be spiked.
  • Hold on to your glass, don’t leave it unattended or let other people hold it.
  • Don’t leave intoxicated friends alone or with strangers.
  • Beware that medical assistance can be harder to get in case of alcohol poisoning abroad.

Useful Resources:

If you experience sexual misconduct while abroad, please know there are resources for reporting and support at UB for students who seek assistance. Whether or not you report an incident, UB's Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion offers assistance and support including:

  • A confidential advocate who can work with you to identify options, advocate for you and help to coordinate services and support
  • Counseling
  • Medical treatment
  • Assistance with housing relocation
  • Assistance with academic accommodations

The Office of Equity Diversity and Inclusion website provides information on:

  • Options for Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Violence
  • Sexual Violence Response Policy
  • Student Bill of Rights
  • Pathways to Safety (pathwaystosafety.org)

Diversity Abroad Resources

Important Websites