Recent health & safety alerts from our program locations.
Safety and Security
• U.S. State Department
• U.S. Students Abroad
Health and Wellness
Step One: Take a Personal Inventory
Staying healthy abroad begins before you travel. Be honest about any physical or mental health needs, medications, dietary concerns, disabilities, or exercise plans you currently have and research how you will manage them in your host country. You will receive detailed information from your IFSA Program Advisor and the Health and Safety team, but you should always feel free to reach out with questions or to discuss your specific situation.
Many students experience the ups and downs of cultural transition at some point while studying abroad. Our resident staff is available to talk with you if you are having a hard time adjusting to your new country and culture. If you feel that your “ups and downs” are more intense or lasting longer than normal, we can connect you with professional support and services. IFSA encourages you to work with our staff and your care team to create and adhere to a wellness plan that works for you.
Accidents, illnesses, and mental health concerns are a part of life. IFSA is prepared to support you should you encounter a health concern overseas. We have dedicated relationships with general practitioners, specialists, and hospitals to support you while you are in your program location. This includes established relationships with mental health professionals who have a range of expertise to support your needs.
With the assistance of our insurance and assistance company, we can connect you with the appropriate care. It is critical that you are transparent with our resident staff when you encounter a health concern. They are ready to help you determine the best path meet your needs.
All IFSA programs include generous accident and illness insurance coverage through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). This coverage may help cover you abroad if you need to see a doctor, therapist, or visit the local emergency room. Additionally, the insurance includes coverage for some pre-existing conditions (including counseling) and offers worldwide emergency assistance from anywhere outside of the United states. Coverage is mandatory for every IFSA student, and we do not waive it if you already have additional insurance for your time abroad. If you have questions about insurance coverage for your specific health needs, we advise you to contact CISI directly. IFSA pays for mandatory university insurance coverage for students studying in Australia (OSHC) and New Zealand (StudentSafe). Students studying in the United Kingdom for six months or longer are covered under the U.K.’s National Health Service.
CISI insurance calls out some specific situations that are not covered, and it is important that you understand these situations. Some examples of activities that may not be covered by CISI insurance include: skydiving, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and parasailing. Read your policy carefully and know your risks before engaging in these high-adventure activities while abroad.
Additionally, insurance policies currently do not cover urgent travel necessary due to a global pandemic, though they will cover illnesses that occur as a result of a pandemic. However, given the recent COVID-19 outbreak, insurance companies are re-evaluating their policies, so this may change.
IFSA adheres to the health, safety, security, and risk management guidelines and best practices in the field of international education as established by NAFSA and the Forum on Education Abroad. We also consult regularly with governmental agencies and private sector resources, as well as other safety and security professionals in the field of international education. This broad network allows us to remain well-informed and up to date on policies and best practices.
IFSA aims to create a safe and supportive environment for all students. We take a trauma-informed approach to receiving complaints of sexual assault and our resident staff are prepared to connect you with the appropriate resources, but they are not confidential informants under Title IX.
We strictly prohibit all forms of sexual misconduct, relationship violence, and stalking against students participating in our programs, perpetrated by an employee or agent of IFSA (including host families), or by another IFSA student. IFSA also strictly prohibits retaliation for making any complaints related to sexual misconduct, relationship violence, and stalking.
Read more about this on our complete IFSA Policy and Procedures Addressing Sexual Misconduct, Relationship Violence, and Stalking.
In addition, our participant agreement and conduct code prohibit discrimination, bullying, and microaggressions. We adhere to principles of inclusive excellence and seek to maximize the safe expression of one’s identity. However, it is critical to note that a program location’s cultural practices may not be in alignment with IFSA’s. Should you find yourself struggling with the cultural norms of your program location, please reach out to IFSA staff for support on these issues.
As a recognized leader in emergency response and crisis management for international education, IFSA has a comprehensive crisis response plan in place. Your safety and wellbeing is our top priority, and we employ experienced and dedicated IFSA staff around the world to help you have a safe study abroad experience.
Once you arrive to your study abroad location, our resident staff will conduct an in-depth orientation that includes extensive information about health, safety, and how to respond in an emergency. Many sessions are led by experts and practitioners in the field, such as local police, U.S. embassy officials, doctors, and mental health professionals. You will be given an emergency number to contact IFSA resident staff 24/7 in a true emergency. This is a great time to ask questions, so you feel most comfortable in your new home.
We require all students to bring with them, or purchase upon arrival abroad, a cell phone that can exchange calls and texts with our resident office. We recommend a local number so that you are better able to connect with local health, safety and security support services and are easily reached in a crisis.
It is mandatory that your phone number is added to the student portal by the end of orientation. We may be able to assist with the purchase of a cell phone in the event of financial difficulty. Please contact us as we consider these requests on an individual basis.
We are proud to employ talented and experienced resident staff in each country where we operate programs. Our full-time resident directors and support staff have a deep understanding of the host culture and its nuances, which helps you navigate the medical system, emergency services, insurance, and support resources. Resident staff are trained in emergency response and student affairs. They are available to meet with you to talk through problems and concerns, refer you to support services, or assist you in an emergency.
IFSA has been navigating personal and program-wide emergencies abroad for almost three decades. Our Crisis Management Team works closely with our resident staff, emergency assistance provider and local emergency services in times of crisis, using our Critical Incident Response Plan as a guide. A member of our staff is on-call 24/7, both in the U.S. and in program countries, should a true emergency occur that requires immediate attention. You, along with your family and home campus study abroad office, will be kept up-to-date until an emergency situation has been resolved.
Students On-Site: If you are experiencing an emergency or need to report an emergency, contact:
• Local emergency services
• Your local resident staff
• Your embassy or consulate
Families and Study Abroad advisors: During normal business hours (8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday, Eastern Time), please call our Indianapolis office and ask for a Health and Safety team member.
After hours, please call the Butler University Police Department: 317.940.9999
The BUPD will alert the appropriate IFSA staff member on call for assistance.