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 Want You to Be an AlertTraveler!

The University at Buffalo has purchased a product called AlertTraveler to help students make informed decisions about their travel, while abroad. AlertTraveler is a mobile application for iOS and Android devices that utilizes GPS and the student's travel itinerary (as informed by our application management software). AlertTraveler provides travelers with country and city intelligence to help them make informed decisions while traveling, safety and security alerts to let travelers know of any events that could potentially impact their travel or safety, and an instant check-in option allowing travelers to report their status back to administrators and travel advisors at their institution in case of an incident. Even though we hope travelers never have to use this app, we know the world is an unpredictable place. We want all students who go abroad to be aware of the possible dangers that could affect their studies at any given time.

Students can find more information about AlertTraveler through their UB study abroad application portal (simply log into www.buffalo.edu/studyabroad). We look forward to supporting your safety as you embark on the experience of a lifetime through studying abroad! 

In the event of an emergency abroad that affects the location where we have students, our office will send check-in requests (asking students to confirm their safety) and the AlertTraveler app allows for students to respond with the touch of a button.

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

LGBTQ+ Students

Map of sexual orientation laws around the world.

Map of sexual orientation laws around the world.

Students identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex or queer should be prepared to encounter new and different attitudes concerning sexual orientations and identities. The atmosphere surrounding LGBTQ rights and issues in each country or region is determined by numerous cultural, religious and political factors. The best way to avoid problems that cause discomfort or danger is to become familiar with the prevailing attitudes before departing for study abroad.

Travelling as a gay student may pose some problems. In order to make your journey as safe and enjoyable as possible, it is important to be cautious in some parts of the world. Such areas include Poland, Mauritius, the Middle East (excepting Turkey), Trinidad, Jamaica, Indonesia, Malaysia and Chechnya, as well as some African countries. These countries have anti-homosexuality laws which reflect cultural attitudes which may pose a threat to your safety while travelling through or visiting.

We also recommend students become familiar with TSA policies and considerations for transgender travelers

For more information, please visit:

IES Country-Specific Diversity Resources

List of LGBTQ organizations around the world

GlobalGayz

US Department of State LGBT Travel

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

 

Students with Varying Abilities

Students with seen or unseen disabilities are underrepresented in study abroad programs throughout the U.S. Travelling can be difficult for those living with a disability, but there are resources available to aid students who wish to explore the world regardless of physical, cognitive, or emotional/behavioral challenges. With the proper research, preparation and care, every student can have the opportunity to expand their education internationally.

U.S. Department of State - Travelers with Disabilities 

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) provides resources, advice and support to students of various ability impairments seeking to study abroad. 

Important Websites