Health and Safety
When staying in a foreign country for a period of time and not as part of an organized group, it may be a good idea for you to register with the U.S. Embassy nearest to you. You can do this online at the Department of State Web site or you may visit the Embassy, which is generally located in the capital city. The U.S. Embassy will be able to provide you with important information and assistance in the event of an emergency.
Should an emergency occur while you are on study abroad, please first contact your in-country study abroad program director, who will manage the situation. If for some reason you cannot contact your program director, please contact immediately:
International Education Center
Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Georgia College Public Safety
Also, be prepared to contact the local police and possibly the U.S. Embassy. And don't forget to call your parents to alert them of the situation!
When you are traveling remember that customs and communication styles differ across the world. Knowledge of those different customs and communication styles can help you remain safe. You need to be very aware of the image you present as you walk down the street, engage in your classes, or interact with professors, students and strangers. Some regions, countries and cities are safer than many locations in the U.S., while others will be more dangerous. The best way to prevent unpleasant encounters is to remain acutely aware of your surroundings. Dress appropriately, be aware of where you are, where you are going, who is around you, and where your personal belongings are. The Department of State Web site also provides some good general guidelines that are worth reading for students planning to travel abroad.
If you will be traveling to developing regions of the world, you will find the Center for Disease Control Web site extremely helpful. At this site, you will be able to select your destination to determine any additional health risks, packing advice, as well as any additional inoculations that may be required.
Never travel with large amounts of cash; instead travel with credit or debit cards, as they are insured and easily replaced. Be sure to keep photocopies, or at least write down the numbers of your cards and checks and keep the documentation in a safe place that is not with the card (often a pocket on your luggage or a desk drawer is a good place to store such documents).
Be sure to keep copies of your passport, visa and other identification in a safe place. This will make it easier to obtain replacements should the original become lost or destroyed. Also, give copies of these documents to your parents or other trusted friends or relatives.
If you take prescription medications, be sure to bring enough refills for the duration of your stay. Also bring a handwritten prescription to be filled in the event that you should run out or your originals become lost or destroyed. Keep ALL prescriptions in the original container. You may be required to dispose of them or could be detained by security in the airport if prescriptions are inappropriately stored. IF you take multiple prescriptions, narcotics, or injection prescriptions, BE SURE to carry a letter from your doctor explaining the use(s) of the medications. Without this documentation you could be required to destroy the medications or could be detained by the airport security. Over-the-counter medications (such as pain relievers, fever reducers, and vitamins) should also be carried in the original container. If you wear contact lenses or glasses, bring a spare pair, as well as a replacement prescription.
If you have any chronic conditions, i.e. allergies, eating disorders, diabetes, etc., psychological, or emotional issues, you should contact your doctor(s) before departing. Get written documentation that clearly specifies if and how your special needs can be accommodated. It is your responsibility to alert the International Education Center, your in-country study abroad director, roommates, etc. to the situation and provide them the information necessary to take care of you in the event that you are unable to care for yourself.
It is a good idea to prepare or purchase a simple First Aid kit that includes over-the-counter medications that you are familiar with, e.g., antiseptic cream, pain relievers, fever reducers, upset stomach/diarrhea medication, etc.
To prevent illness from the physical shock of changing environment, be sure to drink plenty of clear fluids (mostly water, bottled if you are in a developing region), eat a well-rounded diet, and get plenty of sleep. This will also help decrease the effects of jet lag.