Health and Safety
In choosing to study off-campus, you have demonstrated that you are a risk taker of the very best kind. We here in OCSE hope that you'll continue to challenge yourself and take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to you while off-campus. Your safety and security are always important when traveling and living away from home. Although we hope that during your time off-campus you will not have to concern yourself with crisis situations, we know that circumstances are constantly changing. Therefore, we offer health and safety recommendations, precautions and information on this website, as well as in the Student handbook.
Remember that your health and safety are your responsibility. While the health and safety tips that we outline make sense at all times, they are even more critical during any time of conflict. Please familiarize yourself with this information. It is also of crucial importance that you follow the advice of your onsite staff and adhere to the program’s rules and restrictions.
Staying healthy while abroad is important to having a successful study abroad experience. We strongly recommend that you read all the information your program provides on health issues in your host country, and then read this information again!
Skidmore College has secured international health insurance through GeoBlue.
Students approved to study off-campus in a country other than their home country will be covered under this plan, receiving details of coverage via email directly from the carrier shortly before their program start date. (Please note that an approved program provider may also utilize Skidmore’s insurer of choice. If this does occur, insurance coverage cannot be duplicated and students will receive their coverage through their program.)
OCSE will enroll students in the GeoBlue plan shortly before the start of their semester off-campus, typically June or August, dependent on your program start date, for the fall semester and academic year programs and December for the spring semester programs. Students will receive a Welcome email from GeoBlue. It is important that students follow the instructions in that email to finalize their enrollment in the plan. It is also strongly recommended that you download the GeoBlue Mobile App.
Students can contact GeoBlue for assistance in locating a medical professional and securing an appointment in their country of study. GeoBlue can also issue a Guarantee of Payment to doctors and hospitals, allowing students to access care without paying for their visit. Students can also utilize the app or contact GeoBlue to confirm whether their current medication is available in their country of study, helping them to plan accordingly.
Details of the insurance plan and travel services can be found here: International Health Insurance Brochure
It is also beneficial to conduct Pre-Trip Planning.
As you acclimate to your new environment, there is a likelihood that you will face a few problems. The most common problem that you could face is a medical issue, although typically minor.
It is important that you familiarize yourself with the medical coverage provided by Skidmore, as well as any coverage through your program provider.
Current Health Conditions
As you consider studying off-campus, it is strongly recommended that students with routine and/or chronic health conditions, as well as mental health conditions, contact their health care provider to discuss managing their conditions while off-campus.
There are many factors that can exacerbate symptoms. Such things as changes in diet, climate, air quality, elevation and other stress factors that can have an adverse effect on health conditions that are currently under control. Therefore it is important that you research your off-campus study location.
Medications – Prescription and Over-The-Counter
- Certain prescribed medications may not be available in other countries. You should work with your physician and insurance company to obtain the necessary amount for your term off-campus. Please note that generally, prescription drugs cannot be mailed.
- Medications that are available in the U.S. may be illegal in other countries. Please consult the country’s consulate website and the U.S. Department of State country page to confirm availability. You may need to work with your physician to find an alternative medication.
- The over-the-counter medications you are familiar with will more than likely not be available in another country.
- When traveling with your medications keep them in their original containers. Please refer to the TSA Guidelines on transporting medication
- It is recommended that students be up-to-date on routine immunizations. Your program may also recommend specific immunizations as well.
- Please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers' Health webpage for immunizations recommended for your country of study.
When experiencing challenges and/or life changes, including studying off-campus, it is not uncommon for students to experience anxiety, changes in eating habits, depression, emotional upheaval or feelings of isolation.
These disorders can be brought on by a multitude of circumstances such as academic concerns, social life or substance/alcohol abuse. Please ask for help.
Students currently receiving care for mental health should work with their mental health practitioner to make a plan for studying off campus. You should also notify your program provider if you need help finding mental health services in your program location.
GeoBlue, the international insurance carrier for off-campus study, provides mental health support. Those students studying off-campus domestically can access mental health services through BetterMynd, an online therapy platform that Skidmore has partnered with to provide free teletherapy sessions to students.
Regardless of whether you are on or off-campus your safety should be foremost in your mind. Be aware, be prepared, be vigilant and act accordingly.
Please review the “Safety Matters” section of the Student Handbook for safety guidelines and precautions.
- Program your cell phone
- Input the onsite staffs’ contact information into your phone’s Contacts
- Input the your host country’s emergency numbers (911-equivalent) into your phone’s Contacts
- Input the contact information for the nearest S. Embassy into your phone
- The U.S. Embassy is there it provide assistance in the event of an emergency but understand what the U.S. Department of State can and cannot do in a crisis.
- Map out nearby hospital/ER, police station, consulate/embassy
- Keep a scanned copy and photocopy of passport, visa, health insurance and credit cards in a safe place
- Keep information on allergies, medications and special medical conditions on your person
- Notify program staff, parents/guardians and friends of any non-program travel (i.e., weekend trips, breaks)
- Purchase a personal property insurance policy to cover your valuables (i.e., laptop, cell phone, etc.) in the event they are lost or stolen. You can also consult your parents’ home owner’s insurance to determine if coverage is provided or a rider can be obtained.
Off-campus programs will generally provide an onsite orientation that will include health and safety information. The onsite staff will be your best resource in cases of health concerns, safety incidents and emergencies.
If you are a victim of a crime:
- Find a safe location
- Immediately contact onsite staff. They will assist you with contacting the police and/or U.S. Embassy.
If you are a victim of theft:
- Report theft of credit cards to your credit card company and arrange for replacement cards.
- If your passport is stolen contact the nearest U.S. embassy or that of your home country.
- If your laptop, cell phone or other valuable items are stolen contact the police immediately. Your personal property insurance company will require a police report to process a claim.
- Research your country of study.
- Familiarize yourself with local customs in an effort not to offend and jeopardize your safety.
- Learn basic words related to safety and emergencies in the host country language, such as “help” and “police.
- Keep your cell phone full charged and with you at all times.
- Be vigilant while in public. Always locate points of exit.
- Be alert when utilizing public transportation. Enter and exit buses, subways and trains expeditiously.
- Safeguard your possessions and move away from unattended bags or packages and suspicious individuals. Alert police or appropriate authorities immediately.
- Avoid areas known to have a high incidence of crime and do not walk or travel alone, especially at night.
- Do not drink to excess. Inebriation is associated with an increased risk of becoming the victim of a crime or accident.
- Listen to and read local news.
- Limit your patronage of American-owned or branded shops and restaurants. There is anti-American sentiment in many corners of the world.
- Read all messages you receive from Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Follow them on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook.
- Stay in regular contact with family members at home.
- Pay attention to all messages from your program. Respond accordingly.