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Health and Safety

Miami University Global Assistance Program (MU-GAP)

As Miami University extends its global presence, faculty, staff, and students are traveling more frequently to locations around the world. The university recognizes our duty in safeguarding the health and safety of faculty, staff, and students as they travel internationally. The Miami University Global Assistance Program (MU-GAP) supports travelers in a well-coordinated, collaborative effort, with experts from within the university, as well as contracted providers, and specialists in the field.

>> Safety Abroad
>> Health Abroad
>> Additional Resources

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Safety Abroad

Take ownership of your safety:
There are many things that students can do once arriving in the host country to ensure their safety and the wellbeing of fellow travelers. Students are not necessarily more likely to be targeted for crime or terrorism abroad than they are in the United States, but should take the following precautions.

  • The majority of death or injuries abroad every year aren't caused by terrorism but by automobile accidents. Students are encouraged to use public transportation rather than driving a vehicle while abroad.
  • Report suspicious events immediately. Contact the study abroad coordinator/resident director at your study abroad campus if you observe suspicious persons within the premises of your educational environment. Act similarly if anything might indicate threats or an actual terrorist attack on the premises or on student activities.
  • Keep all valuables on your person in a discreet place. Scan your passport, credit cards and debit cards and email the scanned files to yourself. Miami University is not responsible for lost or stolen items. Optional insurance is available for students through various providers.
  • Be proactive about your safety. Ask questions about the local area - what are the safe/less safe areas of town? What are the crime patterns? What are the local laws and standards of behavior? Listen to your gut - if something doesn't feel safe, it probably isn't.

In the event of an emergency

In the event of any emergency or personal concern, you should immediately contact your faculty director/resident director. They can assist you in addressing that concern, identify local resources, and working with Miami to help.

You can also contact your local US Embassy, or call the Miami University Police Department for 24/7 assistance at (513) 529-2222.

International SOS
Miami University has contracted with International SOS to provide additional travel services to students, faculty and staff. International SOS can assist with travel preparation, and with additional services while you are traveling, including medical and legal referrals and crisis management. This is a supplemental service, and additional costs may be involved.

Register with the U.S. State Department

All Miami Students who leave the U.S. for any time should register with the United States Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. When you register with STEP, you will receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans. In addition, this can help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency, or help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

Register your international travel associated with your study abroad program at It is strongly recommended that you also add any itinerary associated with non-programmatic, supplemental side travel you have planned independent from your study abroad program.

U.S. embassies cannot get students out of jail! While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to the country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Every country has its own criminal justice system, and most are not comparable to the U.S. system. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines. If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, possibly convicted and sentenced, and for any appeals process. Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a wide variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families. Source: Assistance to U.S. Citizens Arrested Abroad . US Department of State . n.d. Web. 9 Jul. 2015

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Health Abroad

Prepare and Stay Physically Healthy!
Students are encouraged to contact the Health Services Center about required and recommended immunizations. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a good reference for immunizations and health issues that may be prevalent in certain countries.

International Health Insurance
Miami University requires all students who study abroad to have international health insurance. Unless otherwise provided by your study abroad program, you are required to purchase GeoBlue International Health Insurance, with which Miami has contracted to provide medical coverage for those individuals participating in our study abroad programs. GeoBlue provides a variety of services, including assistance with identifying English speaking doctors in your host country, medical evacuation if necessary, and case management.

Availability of Medications and Health Products
Students should not assume they can fill U.S. prescriptions in-country or ship their medications to their host country. Students should speak with their program leader and check with the CDC and Department of State to determine if prescriptions can be filled on site or whether students will need to change medications. In some countries, standard U.S. over-the-counter medication may be banned; please consult with your study abroad program/faculty leader when packing essential health products.

Other familiar health products such as saline solution or tampons may be difficult to find in-country. Students may need to bring those items with them or adapt to local products.

Mental Health
Studying abroad is a time of emotional and mental highs and lows for everyone, which may exacerbate existing conditions. Students who are currently undergoing therapy or medical treatment for mental health issues should consult with their doctor before going abroad. Students should also communicate with their study abroad program leader about any needs they may have for medication or therapy. Students should not make changes to their usual regime (such as trying to go off regular medication) without consulting with their doctors.

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Additional Resources

>> Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
>> World Health Organization (WHO)
>> Council on International Education Experience (CIEE)
>> Miami University Student Health Services
>> Department of State Study Abroad Website
>> Department of State Travel Warnings


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