Health & Safety Abroad

Visit our Study Abroad Handbook for more details on managing health and safety abroad.

Health & Safety

Health and safety are very important to consider when studying abroad. Students are often far away from their usual healthcare systems and customs of life. The quality of medical care may be different, or the cultural standards towards treatment may not be the same. Students may find that the norms of life in the United States or their home country cannot be found in the same way when they are studying abroad. The best thing to do before leaving is to make sure you have done research on health and safety in your host country/location, and have taken all necessary precautions. 

For a full overview of health and safety while studying abroad, please see our Study Abroad Handbook.


Prior to embarking on your study abroad, check with your health insurance to make sure you will be covered in your host country. Just as is the case when you are on-campus, students will be required to have Wellesley College health insurance unless they can provide proof of an equivalent or more comprehensive health insurance.

Become familiar with the services of Cigna, a travel insurance policy that Wellesley study abroad students are subscribed to that provides 24-hour emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation assistance. Coverage is valid for the duration of the student's study abroad program.

All study abroad students are required to complete the OIS Pre-Departure Online Module that includes a substantial component on health and safety abroad.

Read about your host country through the CDC, and be sure to take note of recommended or required vaccinations. 

Students should consult with their physician about the prospect of studying abroad, especially students with chronic illnesses and/or mental health issues. And all students should make sure that they will be able to access any medication or prescription medical items in their host country, or pack enough to last through the term.

While studying abroad, it is important to keep mental health in mind, especially as it relates to culture shock. 

Please see this page from Wellesley Health Services for information on scheduling pre-departure appointments and other health-specific tips. Additionally, our Study Abroad Handbook contains a first-aid checklist that Health Services recommends students pack for their trip abroad. 


It is highly recommended that you enroll in the U.S. State Department's Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive advisories and alerts about your destination. As relevant, please also see this State Department page on U.S. students abroad, women travelers abroad, LGBT travelers abroad, and travelers with disabilities

Managed and administered through Cigna, the Wellesley College Assistance Abroad Program provides all Wellesley College students, faculty and staff who travel for College-related activities with medical, travel, and security assistance. This includes emergency medical support, evacuation services, pre-trip information services, mental health counseling, etc. 

This can not be said enough: research your host country. Utilize resources such as travel guides, U.S. embassy fact sheets, websites and blogs, and Wellesley students who have studied abroad in your host country before. Even if you are not going to be studying in the language spoken in your host country, make sure you know key phrases such as “yes”, “no”, “thank you”, “help”, etc. 

Be aware that values generally accepted in the U.S. may not be abroad. Racism and sexism may be more prevalent. Our diversity and identity page has resources on this.

Keep in mind that you are subject to the laws of the host country while in its borders. Make sure you know the local laws and customs surrounding things like alcohol or drugs. 

Many safety tips are common sense: do not leave your bags unattended, make sure you know where exits are located in case of an emergency, make sure to store your passport and other important documents in a safe place, and be sure to notify people when you travel within or outside your host country. 

In case of emergencies, please see our page on emergency info.