Health and Safety
With careful planning before you go, your time abroad should be a very enjoyable experience. Though we at IIT do everything we can to provide safe experiences and quality programs, we understand that there are certain risks involved with studying abroad. Generally, these risks are no greater than living in a large city like Chicago. The key is to be smart and plan ahead using the resources below.
The Study Abroad Office monitors international situations on a twice-daily basis. When world events merit it, the university will hold meetings at various administrative levels to discuss contingency plans for various "what-if" scenarios. If we consider that your current location is unsafe, we will work with you and your insurance provider to bring you back home as quickly as possible.
We recommend that you prepare for your study abroad experience by reading the IIT Study Abroad Handbook as well as other resources dedicated to safety.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes guidelines for immunizations and other health precautions for travelers. You can also consult with a travel specialist for more detailed assessments in addition to consulting with your own physician.
Information about infectious diseases abroad may also be found on the World Health Organization website.
- Have I enrolled my trip on travelregistration.state.gov (or my own country’s similar site if I am an international student), so that my government can know where I am in case of emergency?
- What buses or trains can I take to get to the hospital, consulate or police station?
- What are the local emergency, police, consulate and hospital numbers?
- Who are my personal emergency contacts and how will I reach them?
- Do my personal emergency contacts know what I want them to do in an emergency?
- What is my back-up emergency plan?
- What financial reserves will I have and how will I access them?
- What is my plan should an emergency occur at home?
- Do my parents have passports should they need to travel to my host country?
- At what point would I return home or would my family travel to my host country?
- How will I contact home in the event of an emergency?
- What plan do my parents and I have should I find myself in an emergency or become ill?
Before you leave, check your current health insurance policy. Are you covered under your parents' policy or through IIT’s student insurance? If you are protected by IIT's student insurance, how are you ensuring that coverage continues when you are not receiving an IIT tuition bill? Does your coverage protect you outside of the U.S.? If your insurance will not cover you abroad, it is strongly encouraged for you to obtain additional coverage. The following providers offer travel and health insurance, but they are listed here for informational purposes only, and do not imply an endorsement by IIT.
Check with your insurance provider before leaving for detailed procedures and a list of doctors covered in the host country where you are visiting. Make sure you know the process of how to get help, what it may cost and how you will handle that situation. You should also know the costs of prescriptions, and the policy of getting service paid before you leave (ie - does your insurance pay upfront, or are you reimbursed when you return to the US?) Note that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States.
Safeguard your trip and your belongings with travel insurance! This kind of policy can provide protection if:
- You -- or a loved one at home -- get sick
- You are involved in a car accident
- Severe weather or a natural or political disaster causes travel cancellations
Other provisions of travel insurance usually include lost baggage coverage, missed flight connections and cancellation charges imposed by airlines. You have invested a lot of time and money into this once-in-a-lifetime experience - don't leave anything to chance!
In addition, for basic insurance to cover sickness, accident and other emergencies while traveling outside the United States, students and teachers can purchase international student or teacher identity cards as indicated in our Travel Information section.
- If you have a medical condition that is not easily identifiable (diabetes, epilepsy, severe allergies), you should wear a medic-alert bracelet while you are abroad. If you have a medical problem that could be aggravated by conditions abroad (i.e., asthma), consider carefully how you will deal with the problem abroad and discuss it with your physician before you leave home.
- Find out if water is safe to drink in the countries to which you will be traveling. Purify unsafe water before you drink it. Make sure water bottles come sealed when you buy them. Remember that ice can also be unsafe, as well as the water you use to brush your teeth.
- Be aware that AIDS is a major health concern in many countries. Avoid injections and blood transfusions, as well as tattoos and piercings while abroad if AIDS is a concern in the region of your host country. Use protection if you choose to be sexually active.
For more resources, check out the IIT Study Abroad Handbook as well as the SAFETI Abroad website.