The health and safety of study abroad students is of primary concern for Illinois Wesleyan and for the program providers. We each take great care to ensure that your son or daughter is not placed in dangerous or potentially dangerous situations; that students receive adequate pre-departure and on-site orientations to prepare them for challenges and equip them with information to help them acculturate and succeed; and that strong support mechanisms are in place to help in case there is an emergency. The information that follows gives a quick overview of some of the resources used to prepare students for their time abroad and to support them while they are away from campus.
All study abroad students are required to attend a 2-3 hour Pre-Departure Orientation, held each semester, in which health and safety guidelines are covered. At that orientation, all students are provided with an updated copy of the Illinois Wesleyan Study Abroad Handbook, which covers policies relating to health and safety, offers guidelines on health and safety practices, and contains campus emergency contact information. Students are strongly encouraged to take their handbooks with them abroad, but an online version is also available to them should they forget or misplace the book.
At the Pre-Departure Orientation and in the handbook, students are also given information on cultural adjustment and culture shock. Staff from the Arnold Health Center and from Counseling and Consultation speak with students at the pre-departure meeting and are available to students for individual consultation.
When students arrive overseas, they will participate in an on-site orientation that provides an introduction to the location and the staff, covers location-specific health and safety issues, and drills students on emergency procedures. All of our affiliated programs have staff on call 24-hours to assist students in the case of an emergency, whether it be medical, personal, or other.
In case of emergencies, Illinois Wesleyan provides all students studying abroad with Foreign Travel Accident and Sickness medical coverage through EIIA and AIG insurance companies. This policy provides accident and sickness coverage and, in the case of serious illness, medical evacuation, emergency family travel, and medical repatriation coverage. Most of our affiliated programs also provide insurance for their students, and students who purchase an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) receive even more coverage.
Online resources available to students both before they leave and while they are abroad include advice on Health and Safety, Medical Issues, Personal Safety, and the IWU Code of Conduct; Health and Safety Guidelines put out by NAFSA, a national organization devoted to international education; and resources provided by all of our affiliated program providers.
The Illinois Wesleyan policy comes with Travelers' Assistance Services that can aid students with such things as passport replacement, help in tracking lost luggage, emergency translation services, and general travel assistance. IWU also has a 24-hour emergency contact service that students can call while abroad.
The International Office staff, the faculty and staff of Illinois Wesleyan, and our affiliated program providers are committed to the well-being of students studying abroad, and the measures outlined above are only a part of what we each do throughout the study abroad process -- from application through pre-departure preparation, the students' time overseas, and their return to the US and campus. Ultimately, though, it is also the duty of study abroad participants to take responsibility for their own health and safety: to take care of themselves physically and mentally and to act responsibly. The greatest dangers that a students may face while abroad stem from their own behaviors. Common sense, caution, and preparation are key to a successful semester abroad!