Health and Safety
Image: Students talking in the library
Hiram College cares about the safety and welfare of our students and faculty while they study abroad. Please review the various resources below to make sure you are prepared for your trip abroad!
Whether you’re going to an exotic locale for spring break or studying away for a semester, the Hiram College Julia Church Health Center will help you prepare for your trip. Travel health services are available to students, faculty, and staff.
Pre-Departure To-Do List:
- Make an appointment with the Julia Church Health Center staff.
During your appointment, you and the Health Center staff will discuss the vaccines and malaria medication to consider based on your itinerary. He or she will outline country-specific risks and precautions, answer any remaining questions you have about staying healthy while traveling, and administer vaccines should you choose to get them.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention Travelers’ Health (Information about infectious diseases)
- U.S. State Department (Travel advisories and other information, by country)
- Trip Prep.com (Credible source of travel health and safety information)
What is an Emergency?
An emergency can be a medical or legal emergency, or the student could have been the victim of a crime or natural disaster and are in need of immediate medical assistance or evacuation.
If you have an emergency please contact the Study Away Office at 330.569.5388. If you cannot reach the Study Away Office, contact Campus Safety at 330.569.4119 or 330.569.5188.
Questions or Concerns about Health and Safety
Please contact Hiram College Study Away Office at 330.569.5388 if you have any questions or concerns about health and safety issues (between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST).
The health and safety of any Hiram College student studying abroad is a primary concern for the Study Away Office. Take the quiz below to test your level of preparation. Knowing the answers to these key questions will be critical to your pre-departure planning as well as the base to having a pleasant and productive time abroad.
Remember you are ultimately responsible for the choices you make regarding your safety! Many places abroad are safer than the U.S., but your lack of familiarity with the culture, language, people, and locales may put you at higher risk.
Do you know the answers to these questions?
- What does the State Department recommend regarding travel to this country?
- What shots or immunizations do you need in order to gain entry into the host country?
- What is the number one health risk in-country?
- What is the most common safety risk in-country?
- Who are you going to contact in an emergency?
Hiram College works to ensure that students participating in approved study abroad programs have appropriate health insurance coverage for the dates of their Hiram College study abroad period. The College also provides additional supplemental insurance through an insurance provider that students are required to have if traveling abroad.
The safety of our students is of the utmost importance to us. It is our chief concern. Unfortunately, there are no guaranties when it comes to safety – not at home, as 9/11 so tragically demonstrated, and not abroad. Nonetheless, risk can be limited. To that end, we strongly encourage our students to read thoroughly and to take seriously the risk and safety information provided below and to stay aware of current events in the countries in which they will be studying.
Four Principles of Personal Risk Preparedness While Studying Abroad
Students should be aware of local hotspots and events. Read local newspapers and magazines, also keep up with international newspapers (e.g. Herald Tribune, Newsweek, Economist, Financial Times, etc.) Learn from local residents which areas of town are safe or dangerous and when to avoid certain locations. For example, normally safe areas may become riskier late at night, during soccer games, or political rallies. Determine which means of transportation are safe and secure, and at what time of day. Which is safer late at night: public transportation (buses, subways, etc.) or taxis? This varies from country to country. When traveling from a familiar city to an unfamiliar area, ask for advice and research safe areas before departing. We would like to add, however, that participating in a demonstration is not a good way to raise awareness!
Uncertainty causes a great deal of anxiety. Students are asked to check in regularly with their family, by phone or e-mail. Cell phones are quite inexpensive in many countries; many plans do not charge to receive calls. Students should inquire with their program provider which cell phone plans are best. For many parents, simply knowing that they can reach their students at any time day or night, reduces anxiety considerably. The Study Abroad Office also asks that you check in with us regularly by e-mail or phone. Notify us if you have a concern about your safety, or just to say that things are fine. We appreciate hearing from students.
- Cultural Common Sense
Gaining cross-cultural understanding is one of the most important and profound learning experiences students have while abroad. Students can apply their newfound cross-cultural understanding to help preserve their safety. The first point is to recognize that cultures are different, even if they appear similar. While all cultures value safety and stability, the ways they achieve it may vary considerably. Students can enhance their experience and personal safety by learning the answers to the following Cultural Questions:
- What do people in this culture value most?
- How are reputations made or ruined?
- What behaviors, manners or clothing blend-in and which demand attention?
- How do people respond to uncertainty or difference? Are they open or do they feel threatened?
- What are the cultural norms for alcohol in the host country
- What reputation do American students have? Do my actions, behavior, and dress reinforce the negative or the positive?
- Personal Responsibility
Many people are concerned about study abroad students’ safety and security – including parents and friends, Study Abroad staff and the College, and people responsible for accommodation abroad. However, no one will be as involved or concerned as you, the student. Personal safety and security begin with the multitude of decisions each student makes on a daily basis; which includes the transportation methods you choose, whom you associate with, when and where you go out, etc. By being aware, employing cultural common sense and making responsible, intelligent choices, students can greatly narrow the risks to their own safety. By far, the greatest threat to student safety involves alcohol. That alcohol impairs one’s judgment is well known, but too often ignored. Although drinking across cultures is not necessarily as dangerous as drinking and driving, overindulgence, especially in an unfamiliar country, can result in equally negative consequences.
Additional Tips on Reducing Student Risk
- Stay informed, by local news and people.
- Have documents and cash available, including passport and air tickets.
- Don’t dress like an American, e.g. leave the baseball cap at home.
- Don’t discuss politics, and certainly don’t feel compelled to defend any U.S. policy in a bar.
- Avoid American hangouts.