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Health & Safety

The health and safety of students on study abroad programs is Davidson's top priority. We encourage all students to prepare in advance in order to make appropriate plans for their health and well-being abroad.  Get started by reviewing these resources for your health, insurance, and safety abroad; the OEAA provides additional information through the program applications and in pre-departure orientation sessions.

Health Abroad

Start planning for health abroad in advance.  It is important to recognize how study abroad can affect your health; use the resources on this page to prepare yourself and help prevent any issues or changes during your program.

In addition to these resources, you should follow all guidance provided by your partner organization or host institution.



  • Many programs require students to get a physical medical exam before the program starts.  Schedule these appointments in advance.  You are able to make appointments with the Center for Student Health & Well-Being on campus.

  • Travel abroad can be disruptive to your routines.  Make a point to stay hydrated, allow yourself plenty of time to rest, and eat healthy meals.

  • If you have a documented apparent or non-apparent disability, please disclose this information in advance.  Communicating this to the OEAA and to your program staff will make it easier to arrange accommodations as needed.  Any information you share will be kept confidential.

  • If you have a chronic health condition such as Celiac disease, food allergies, diabetes, epilepsy, etc., it is a good idea to print and carry cards with a translation of your condition, needs, and other care instructions in the local language.  Be sure to discuss your condition(s) with your program directors.



Prescription Medications

  • It is very important that you maintain your medications while abroad.  Do not adjust or go off your medications without consulting your doctor.

  • Consider differences in time zones.  If your medication is time-sensitive, be sure to speak with your doctor about how to best adjust your dosage during your overseas flight and new time zone.

  • Pack a good supply.  Take enough of your medication to last for the duration of the program.  If your insurance will not allow you to obtain the amount to cover your entire time abroad, ask your physician if they can recommend an alternative.  Again, do not make changes to your medication without consulting your doctor.

  • Some medications which are legal in the United States are illegal in other countries. Research this ahead of time and ask your doctor for an alternative if necessary. Do NOT go off your medication without consulting your doctor.

  • Always carry medications in their original, labeled container.  Request a letter from your doctor stating your prescription, including the brand and generic names, your dosage, what the medicine looks like, and its purpose.

  • Keep your medicines with you.  Always pack medication in your carry-on luggage, NOT your checked bag.  If the airline loses your checked bag, you want to be sure to have your important medications with you.

  • Do not plan to have medicine shipped to you.  This can take a very long time, and packages containing medication are often held up or seized at customs.

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Bring a supply of basis over-the-counter medication with you.  Consider packing small amounts of basic pain killers, diarrhea or nausea medication, allergy medicine, etc.  Brand names, strengths, and formulations may differ overseas.

Safety Concerns

  • Refer to the U.S. Department of State Country Information page for your destination(s) for potential concerns about medications abroad.  In some areas, there may be issues with quality or counterfeit medicines.  Check with your on-site program coordinators for advice about where to safely purchase medicine on-site.



If you are using mental health counseling services on or off campus, it is important that you share your study abroad plans with your therapist(s) at the start of the application process and inform your program well in advance of your arrival if you need to access regular counseling or other health-maintenance services abroad.  Functioning within unfamiliar cultures and environments can be stressful. For some individuals, this may exacerbate or trigger issues affecting both emotional and physical health. Consider not only your techniques for self-care but also the kinds of support you rely on at home and on campus, and make a plan for accessing similar resources in your new environment that will help you stay healthy.



Prior to departure, make sure you are as healthy as you can be. Plan to take with you any birth control, condoms, or medications you might need or want during the entire time you will be abroad. These products may not readily available or of similar quality in your host country, and you may need to ask your doctor or the Center for Student Health and Well-Being to override your insurance so that you can obtain the quantity you need.  Review the medications section for additional details.

If testing for sexually transmitted infection is needed while you are abroad, options will vary by country, but a local doctor is a good starting place. Emergency contraception or Plan B may be needed for unprotected intercourse. Local pharmacies may carry it over the counter. Program leaders and staff will be familiar with the local resources.

International Travel Insurance

Davidson College provides international emergency health insurance through EIIA to all students traveling abroad for College-related purposes.  You do not need to sign up or register for this policy; you are covered automatically.

Please visit the EIIA website and scroll down to the Important International Travel Documents section to download your ID card, review coverage, the claims process, and other important documents.

This policy offers emergency coverage only.  It does not provide coverage for routine or ongoing care.  In most cases, students must pay for medical care out of pocket, then file a claim with EIIA for reimbursement.

Most partner programs provide their own international insurance for students.  In those cases, the partner insurance should be considered the primary policy and EIIA the backup policy.



As part of our coverage, EIIA also provides a travel assistance service called Healix.  We encourage all students to download the Healix app (instructions are on the EIIA ID card), which provides travel alerts based on your itinerary, country information, and a 24/7 assistance hotline.

By calling the hotline, Healix can assist you with locating medical facilities, providing travel support, and more while you are abroad.  Please note this is not an emergency hotline; if you are need of emergency assistance, you must call the local emergency number for your location.



Students are responsible for filing EIIA insurance claims themselves for any costs incurred while abroad.  All claim forms are available on the EIIA website in the Important Documents section (scroll down).  Select the form that applies to your situation, then follow the instructions to complete and submit it.  Most EIIA claims are processed within 30 days.



Take the time to understand your program’s safety and security practices and ask questions if a detail is unclear. The information provided to you in pre-departure and on-site orientation is meant to give you the tools to protect yourself and know where to go for help in the event of an emergency, and it is vital you take this information seriously.
In the event of an emergency, please notify the local director of your study abroad program as soon as possible. If you need to reach a Davidson College Education Abroad staff member, call +1-704-894-2250 and follow instructions.



  • Share concerns about personal matters such as health conditions, medications, ethnicity, religion, and security, such as questions about women traveling alone and LGBTQIA+ safety abroad.

  • Know the specific details of your program site, including current security and health situations, safe transportation means, the location of local hospitals and embassies and the phone numbers for the police, fire, and medical emergency services in your host city.

  • Share contact information about your program, including phone numbers and addresses, with parents and family.

  • Review the U.S. Department of State country-specific information for your host country, which includes information on local laws, crime, medical considerations, and other risks to look out for, including methanol poisoning. Remember that you will be subject to their laws, not the laws of the United States.

  • Research the cultural norms, typical lifestyle, shared values, traditions and current events of your host culture.

  • Resources such as Google Maps and travel guides allow you to learn about your host country, host city, and your neighborhood. The more you familiarize yourself with the local spots, the more confident you will be as you adjust to your new environment, and the safer you will be.



  • Carry emergency contact information, your insurance card, and a copy of your passport at all times. Leave your actual passport in a secure place in your "home" unless traveling to another country.

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and trust your instincts – if it does not feel right, it probably is not.

  • Pickpocketing is rampant in many cities, especially in areas that attract tourists and on public transportation; be aware of and discretely prevent access to your backpack, purse, wallet, and phone.

  • Avoid wearing expensive jewelry and bringing valuables with you. If you do choose to carry items such as digital cameras, phones, or laptops, be sure to be discrete and not flaunt them or let them hang out of your bag while in public.

  • Avoid public demonstrations. Even calm gatherings can quickly turn violent.  In many countries, it is illegal for foreigners to take part in demonstrations or protests.

  • Keep people informed of your plans.  If you are going out of town, follow your program’s procedure for letting local staff know of your travel plans.

  • Do not go out alone, especially at night.  Use the buddy system.

  • Make good decisions and stay away from risky behavior:

    • If you are of legal drinking age, use alcohol in moderation. Excessive drunkenness is not only socially unacceptable in many countries but could also have serious consequences such as arrest or removal from your program.

    • Avoid illegal substances.  You are subject to local laws, and many countries have harsh penalties related to drug use.

    • If sexually active, do not engage in unprotected sex. It is advisable to bring contraception from home.



How you choose to socialize at Davidson College or in the United States may not be safe or appropriate in your host country. The risk of rape and sexual assault are greatly increased when traveling to an unfamiliar environment. Protecting your safety as well as that of your friends should always remain a priority. Students of all genders should be aware of and observe the host culture norms for appropriate dress, dance styles, and dating, especially if you choose to participate in your host country's nightlife.

Staying with a buddy is advisable for everyone. As friendly as people may seem, don't go home with anyone you have just met. Keep a close eye on food and drinks and be wary of accepting food or drinks from people you do not know, as they could include date rape drugs. Always carry enough currency to get home safely and keep the number of a safe and reliable transportation service with you.

Keep in mind that you will stand out due to a lack of familiarity with the local culture, and this puts you at a higher risk, especially if you have been drinking. Think back to everything you learned about sexual safety during college orientation. All of that information is extremely relevant as you enter a foreign environment.

Sexual Assault & Rape

Regardless of the cultural norms of your host country, sexual violence is an act of power that no one deserves and that can happen to anybody. No matter how it started or how long the relationship existed (or didn’t exist) or how incapacitated you may have been, it is a non-consenting act, a crime.  It is important to tell someone whom you trust and who believes you completely, as well as to seek medical attention to check for injury and to test for sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy (if applicable).

Depending on the country, you may decide to talk to the police or take legal action. Take time to learn about the laws in your host country before you depart. Sexual assault and rape are traumatic experiences from which it may take a long time to heal and recover. Common effects of sexual assault include flashbacks, PTSD, and depression, but it is important to recognize that survivors are not alone and that support is readily available. While abroad, and after you return, reach out to people you trust and seek out resources for care and counseling.