Health, Safety & Security

Understanding FERPA (video)
Travel Information: U.S. Department of State
Your Student as a University Representative
Staying Healthy While Abroad (video)
HTH Worldwide Health Insurance

Safety is a prime concern for everyone involved in study abroad ventures: participants, their families, advisors, Eastern Illinois University, the host institutions, and any other personnel associated with our programs. Although statistics are in short supply, studying in a foreign country is no more dangerous than in the United States. On the other hand, risks exist that are unique to the settings abroad. When incidents occur, the impact on participants and their families is often more profound due to the unfamiliarity of possible problems and the distance that separates participants from their primary sources of support.

Family Education Rights & Privacy Act

Kelly Holland, Study Abroad Coordinator, explains "FERPA"

The provisions of the Family Rights and Privacy Act (Buckley Amendment) coupled with the age of the majority at eighteen, often comes into conflict with the (a) Study Abroad Office, on-site coordinators’ need to have full information about the participants we serve, and (b) the desire of parents and EIU to be briefed fully when something goes wrong. This conflict is not unique to study abroad. The issue is faced continually on campus, but it does pose a more delicate challenge for study abroad because of a heightened sensitivity and increased distance. If you would like to be informed, then talk to your son or daughter about the FERPA Release in the application materials and ask him/her to put your name on it.

Traveling Safely: U.S. Department of State

One responsibility of the Study Abroad Office is to keep students informed of any potential threats while they are abroad. The Study Abroad Office continually checks the Department of State’s website to determine if any travel warnings are in effect. Students will be contacted if a problem arises in their host country or if it is believed that travel in a country is unsafe. However, these occurrences are very rare. While students are abroad, they should maintain safety precautions, just as they would in America. You can follow safety/security information from the Department of State's website.

We also suggest that all students preparing to study abroad take a look at the STEP program, administered by the U.S. Department of State. The "Safe Traveler Enrollment Program" is a way to stay informed about your destination, be it Shanghai or Spain. Students can enter their flight and passport information, and receive updates about the country, as necessary.

Consular Information

US Embassies and Consulates can be very helpful while in a foreign country. They provide a range of services including emergency and non-emergency services.


Your Student as a Representative of Eastern Illinois University

It is important for students to realize that they are subject to all laws and customs of the country in which they are staying. Researching the country will better prepare a student for any changes in laws or proceedings. Eastern Illinois University expects study abroad participants to abide by the laws, regulations, and customs of the host country, community, institution and program.

Among the rules that the student should abide by include but are not limited to:

Protecting Rights, Safety & Dignity

The Eastern Illinois University community strongly promotes the development of a personal values system that focuses on each person assuming responsibility for her/his own actions and on maintaining dignity and truth. As representatives of the University, faculty, staff, and students should uphold and promote the University’s mission whenever they are engaged in on campus or off-campus University related activities and events. When attending those activities where alcohol is available, those who choose to drink are expected to do so responsibly. Download a copy of the Eastern Illinois University Code of Student Conduct.

Common Sense

Students studying abroad should use common sense, just as they would at home. Here are some safety precautions to remind them about:

  • Avoid traveling alone at night.
  • Avoid public protests.
  • Keep a low profile by avoiding loud conversations or arguments.
  • Don't discuss travel plans with strangers.
  • Be aware of pickpockets. Usually an accomplice will push you, ask you for directions of the time, point to something on your clothing, or distract you by creating a disturbance.
  • Be aware that pickpockets may also be children, or use children to distract targets.
  • Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. If possible, only ask questions from individuals in authority.
  • Know how to use the public telephones and have the proper change, or cards.
  • Learn a few phrases in the local language in case of emergency.
  • Make a note of emergency telephone numbers including: police, fire, the place where you are staying, and the nearest US embassy or consulate.
  • If you are confronted by someone, do not fight back. Give up your valuables, and remember that money and passports can be replaced.

Staying Healthy While Abroad

What to do if you get sick while traveling

For information about health or vaccinations that your son/daughter might need, visit the National Center for Infectious Diseases at www.cdc.gov/travel. This website will provide information about the country in which your student is staying.

 Dr. Sheila Baker, Medical Director of EIU Health Services and Kelly Holland discuss health & safety

Drugs, including Prescriptions

Students should be warned of the dangers of drug-related activities. While students are abroad, they most obey the rules and regulations of the country they are visiting. Most other countries in the world do not react lightly to drug violations. Students should be aware of the consequences of possessing, using, selling, or carrying what is considered drugs in the countries where they are visiting. Students should also be aware that large volumes of prescription drugs may be considered drugs. Any drug violation could result in harsh consequences such as jail time, and American embassy/consulates can provide limited help to convicted offenders

Emergency Information

For more information on Emergency contacts and procedures, please consult our Emergency page.


HTH Worldwide Health Insurance

Eastern Illinois University requires that all students in study abroad programs carry proper international insurance while participating in the programs. We enroll all students with HTH Worldwide Health Insurance, a comprehensive 24/7 plan that is active from the date of their departure, until their return home. Students will receive a copy of the plan as well as information on how to access their insurance card during their mandatory pre-departure orientation.

Encourage your son or daughter to leave you a folder with all copies of important documents in it.  Passport, copy of credit cards (front and back), insurance card, copy of bank cards, copy of photo ID, copy of acceptance letter, important phone numbers (Study Abroad Office, Office of Financial Aid, host institution, etc).