Student's Role in Maximizing Health, Safety, and Security

Students play an important role in maintaining their own safety and security, starting with preparation prior to the program and continuing throughout the program. While there are some situations that are out of anyone's control, by being aware of their surroundings, making responsible decisions, and asking for assistance when necessary, students can head off a number of possible concerns. 

Many students worry about what to expect, and they may feel that there are many factors outside of their control when it comes to health and safety. In reality, there are many factors that students can control. Here are some tips for keeping safe and healthy on a program:
Start early. Thinking clearly about your health and safety and asking questions about what you read and hear before you go can be very helpful. Make sure you set up appointments for immunizations on schedule, and talk with your doctor about any health concerns. Ask program alumni or host country nationals for their thoughts and advice. Read travel guides — each generally has a health and safety section that may prove useful.

Carefully review pre-departure materials. SIT Study Abroad provides pre-departure materials that are specifically created for each program. These materials will provide essential basic information, including detailed packing guidelines and health and safety information. Read these carefully and highlight important parts. Also be sure that you carefully review the SIT Study Abroad Student Handbook so that you clearly understand policies and procedures. If you have questions, ask our office for clarification. 

In addition, we encourage all students to carefully read over all health and safety information on this website and to consult other resources listed in this section.

Read the Student Handbook (PDF).

Listen and observe. During orientations and throughout the program, program staff will provide essential information about health and safety. Follow advice and rules of program staff — though they sometimes seem odd, these rules are made for student benefit, and they will help keep you safe and healthy. Sometimes observing others can give you clues about appropriate behavior, but remember that what might be right for someone who has lived in an area all their lives may not be right for you as a newcomer. These are the kinds of topics you will address throughout the program; please do not be shy in bringing these up with your program staff, homestay family, or academic director.

Ask questions. If you have listened carefully and read the orientation materials and still have questions about a particular issue, please ask. If you have a question about a topic that has not yet been discussed, please ask. If there is something that just doesn’t make sense, please ask. Trust your instincts; if you have a question about something regarding your health, safety, or security, our program staff would prefer to answer your question than to have a student make misinformed decisions. Plus, asking these tough questions can help you better understand the culture in which you are living.

Focus on making good decisions. Once you have taken in all of the information presented about health, safety, program rules, and your host culture, then it is time to start making your own decisions. Decide early on that you will make good decisions for your health and safety — for example, travel with others whenever you have been advised to do so, or, if in a new place, keep your wits about you and maintain awareness of your surroundings at all times; trust your instincts; keep important phone numbers and contact information easily available in case you need them; choose safe food and travel options based on the advice of your program's staff and what you know of your host country. While these preventative measures will not protect you from every possibility, they will go a long way towards keeping you safe and healthy.

Seek help when needed. SIT Study Abroad programs have many outlets for students to receive support and advice, including the academic director, program staff, homestay families, offices in the US, counselors, staff from your home institutions, and more. When in doubt, ask for support — that’s what we’re here for.