• IN AN EMERGENCY
  • During normal business hours:  Phone the Penn Abroad office at 215-898-9073 

    After normal business hours: Phone the Penn Police at 215-573-3333. They will contact the Penn Abroad staff or the appropriate person on campus to assist you.

  • HEALTH
  • Prior to departure

    Sexual health

    Mental health

    Medications

    Medical insurance


    Prior to departure

    Since your physical and mental well-being is a fundamental component of a successful and happy stay abroad, we encourage you to plan ahead. Here are several important steps to take:

    • Have a medical examination

    Schedule check-ups with your physician, dentist, and eye-care specialist before departure.

    • Complete your Penn Abroad Health Information form; Disclose pre-existing conditions

    You will be required to turn in a health information form signed by a healthcare provider prior to studying abroad. This can be done at Student Health Services or with a healthcare provider chosen by the student.  Even mild physical or psychological disorders can become serious under the stresses of life while studying abroad. If you have a pre-existing condition, disclose it on the form and discuss your treatment plan with your physician in advance.

    • Disclose physical or learning disabilities

    If you have a physical or learning disability that requires accommodation, disclose this on the health information form and discuss it with Student Disability Services.  Since both the law and practice abroad with regard to accommodation for special student needs are different than the law and practice here, it is important to begin this conversation well in advance of your departure date. You need to know what accommodations may or may not be possible on your study abroad program.

    • Update childhood immunizations and confirm other travel immunization needs

    Make sure that your childhood vaccinations have been updated before you travel, especially for tetanus/diphtheria. For travel to developing or tropical countries, there might be additional required or recommended immunizations. Speak to Student Health Service or a travel clinic associated with many hospitals. For up-to-date information on health conditions in the host country, refer to the Centers for Disease Control's Travelers' Health web site.

    Sexual Health

    Don’t leave your common sense behind when you study abroad! HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) exist everywhere in the world, but you control your level of risk. Be responsible and careful. If you are sexually active, pack condoms and use them.

    Talk to past participants and staff at the Penn Women’s Center, LGBT Center, and Penn Abroad. A little knowledge about gender and relationship roles in your host country can help to guide your actions and understand behavior that may increase your personal risks abroad.

    Mental Health

    Traveling to another country and living in a different culture is not always easy. Study abroad can be the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of your college education,but  there may be moments when you feel frustrated, angry, and lonely.  In fact, you might not realize how rewarding the experience has been until after you have returned home to the United States.

    Before you leave, speak to a counselor:

    • If you are currently experiencing emotional/relationship/family/academic problems. Studying abroad should not be seen as therapy or the solution to your problems; in fact, studying abroad often intensifies the problems you are experiencing at home.
    • If previous experiences away from home have been stressful or traumatic.
    • If you are currently on medication for depression/anxiety or other psychological concerns.

    Once abroad:

    • If you are having difficulties, don’t wait. Speak to someone about them. Call or email Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) directly, or Penn Abroad can contact them on your behalf. In emergencies, phone meetings can be arranged. Confidentiality will be maintained.
    • The availability and nature of mental health services varies by location. International SOS is able to direct you to a vetted English-speaking counselor in most locations.

    Medications

    Do you currently take medications? Wear glasses or contacts? Use an inhaler? Here are some practical considerations for your time abroad:

    • If there are medications that you must take, bring an adequate supply for your entire stay, pack them in your carry-on, and leave them in the original container.
    • Be sure to have a copy of the prescriptions. You may be asked to show them at customs in order to prove that they are prescribed drugs. The prescription should be written in terms of the chemical composition and generic name rather than brand name, and should include dosage, instructions, and reason for prescribing the drug.
    • Do not plan on having U.S. prescriptions filled abroad, and do not plan on having medications sent to you once you are abroad.  International prescriptions are rarely honored.  Shipping medications is often illegal and delays in receiving them are probable.
    • You may need to make alternate arrangements. Not all countries allow every medication in, even if it is a legal medication in the U.S.  For example, commonly prescribed drugs for Attention Deficient Disorder are banned from entering Japan.  International SOS may be helpful with this research and advanced planning. 

    Medical Insurance

    Penn Abroad requires that all Penn students maintain coverage that is valid in their home country, even when studying abroad. 

    Students who study on a Penn Abroad approved program are covered by Penn’s International SOS (ISOS) membership while abroad.  Penn’s International SOS (ISOS) membership includes travel medical insurance and evacuation assistance for Penn students, faculty and staff traveling abroad on Penn-affiliated trips.  Below is a summary of ISOS member benefits. 

    In order to receive notification of ISOS membership, a detailed summary of benefits and a link to download their ISOS member card, travelers must register their Penn-affiliated trip, including roundtrip flight itinerary, in Penn’s Global Activities Registry.   Penn Abroad students should not register their own trip in GAR – the Penn Abroad Office will input your basic information and you will be prompted to provide your flight information.

    International SOS (ISOS) coverage includes:

    Medical Services

    • Travel health insurance
    • Accidental Death & Dismemberment
    • Emergency evacuation
    • Medically-supervised repatriation
    • Additional travel and accommodation assistance after medical evacuation
    • Repatriation of mortal remains
    • Inpatient admission and medical monitoring
    • Emergency and routine medical advice
    • Pre-trip information on travel health issues
    • Medical and dental referrals
    • Outpatient referrals, appointment arrangement and outpatient case management
    • Claims assistance
    • Outpatient medical expense guarantee and payment, with Penn's authorization
    • Inpatient medical expense guarantee, cost review and payment, with Penn's authorization
    • Dispatch of medication and medical supplies

    Travel Services

    • Legal referrals

    Translations and interpreters

    • Lost travel document advice
    • Emergency personal cash advances
    • Lost baggage
    • Trip interruption

    International SOS Clinics

    Security Services

    • Security evacuation assistance
    • Online travel security assistance
    • Emergency and routine security advice

    For more information, please visit Penn’s International Travel Guidance website or contact Jaime Molyneux, Director of International Risk Management.

    Additional Information

    • U.S. Department of State advice.  The U.S. Department of State offers advice on medical insurance and other medical issues abroad.
    • Host Country/Institution Insurance.  In many countries, regardless of your U.S. and travel insurance coverage, you must also purchase the national or institutional health insurance.  Your program will let you know if this is the case during the application and/or pre-departure process.
  • SAFETY AND SECURITY
  • The Penn Abroad approach

    Staying safe quick tips

    Global road safety

    Alcohol and drug use

    For female travelers

    The Penn Abroad Approach

    No one can guarantee or assure the safety of participants or eliminate all risks from studying abroad. However, in order to make informed decisions and recommendations about the safety and security of our students abroad, Penn Abroad consults Penn’s faculty and administrative offices as well as external resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), International SOS, local governments, and local contacts/staff on site.  

    Penn Abroad staff monitors world events as well as regional or country-specific incidents that may have an impact on our students abroad. Penn is unique in having a Director of International Risk Management, who oversees risk management for all of Penn’s global activities, including Penn Abroad’s semester programs and internships. The Director of Penn Abroad sits on the Committee for International Risk Management (CITRA), whose primary functions include the development of international travel guidelines and the review of undergraduate travel requests to locations on the Heightened Risk Regions List.

    Staying Safe Quick Tips

    Penn Abroad provides guidance and support for a safe experience. However, in study abroad as in other settings, you, the student, can have a major impact on your own health and safety through the decisions you make before and during your program and by your day-to-day choices and behaviors.

    Luckily, living and studying in Philadelphia has given you street smarts that will serve you well abroad. Trust your instincts! Terrorism-related injuries and deaths among Americans in foreign countries, while alarming, are still relatively rare events. The reality is that many of the most common safety issues facing students abroad are within your power to control--or at least limit.

    Behavior and conduct

    • Be discrete and conservative in your actions, dress, and conversations. Don’t bring attention to yourself through your actions.
    • Pay attention. Use your street smarts. If something feels suspicious, get yourself out of the situation. Be discrete with cameras, electronics, jewelry. Watch your laptop! Do not walk alone at night. If you go out with friends, return with friends.
    • Travel in pairs or small groups for personal or weekend travel, not alone.

    Culture, Politics, Law

    • Understand your host culture’s attitudes towards gender roles, ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, and different religions.
    • Be aware of how your actions may be perceived by the local population. Be aware of local issues and the worldwide political environment. Stay away from demonstrations. Avoid crowds, protest groups, or other potentially volatile situations, as well as restaurants and entertainment places where Americans are known to congregate.
    • Know local laws: laws and systems of justice are not universal and you will be subject to the laws of the host country. Do not assume that just because something is legal in the United States, that it is legal abroad.

    Register Your Travel

    • Register on-line with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Registration makes your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary for a consular official to contact you in an emergency
    • Confirm registration with Penn’s Global Activities Registry and enter travel arrangements.   

    Communication

    • Report to the responsible authority any suspicious persons loitering around residence or instructional facilities, or following you; keep your residence area locked at all times, and close your windows when leaving your residence; use common sense in divulging information to strangers about you or your fellow students.
    • Develop a communication plan with your family for regular telephone, SKYPE, or e-mail contact, so that in times of heightened political tension or personal emergency, you will be able to communicate with your parents directly about your safety and wellbeing. Make sure they have the emergency numbers for Penn.
    • If you are taking a weekend excursion on your own or with a few friends, make sure that someone knows where you are going and how to contact you in an emergency, even if only overnight. Additionally, you should add your personal travelto Penn’s Global Activities Registry.

    Money

    • Watch for identity theft: use ATMs within buildings and be aware of people around you. Be aware of local scams (see US Department of State Country-Specific Information).
    •  Do not carry on your person more money than you need for the day. Carry your credit cards, etc. in a very safe place.

    Environment

    • If you go swimming or engage in water sports, find out about currents and other risks first.
    • Be aware of recent natural disasters in host country and region, and how these may have an impact on your day-to-day life..

    Global Road Safety

    Are you thinking about renting a motor vehicle abroad? Penn Abroad discourages students from renting or buying a car, moped, or motorcycle. Public transportation is the way the majority of local students get around, so it should be a part of your experience as well.  For that reason, and for reasons of safety and economy, we strongly discourage students from renting automobiles or other motorized vehicles during their term of exchange.   

    Alcohol and drug use

    In many countries of the world, the legal drinking age is lower than in the U.S. However, just because you may be able to drink legally abroad does not mean that you should abandon your good judgment.

    If you choose to drink, keep these tips in mind:

    • Be aware of local laws and culture. Different alcohol laws may allow for ease of access, but you should observe local customs.
    • Don’t abandon intoxicated friends; don’t let friends go home alone even if they insist!
    • Learn the local culture. Do families drink wine with their meals? What is the relationship between meals, family time, and alcohol?
    • Avoid impairing your judgment due to excessive consumption of alcohol or illegal substances.

    The following is adapted from the U.S Department of State regarding the law and drug violations abroad.

    • When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws and are under its jurisdiction. You can be arrested overseas for actions that may be either legal or considered minor infractions in the United States.
    • Familiarize yourself with legal expectations in the countries you will visit. The Country Specific Information pages include information on unusual patterns of arrests in particular countries, as appropriate.
    • More than one-third of U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad are held on drug charges. Some countries do not distinguish between possession and trafficking, and many have mandatory sentences – even for possession of a small amount of marijuana or cocaine.
    • A number of Americans have been arrested for possessing prescription drugs, particularly tranquilizers and amphetamines, that they purchased legally elsewhere. Other U.S. citizens have been arrested for purchasing prescription drugs abroad in quantities that local authorities suspected were for commercial use. If in doubt about foreign drug laws, ask local authorities or the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

    For female travelers

    Female travelers may be more likely to encounter harassment in some cultures abroad. However, uncomfortable situations can usually be avoided by taking the following precautions:

    • Dress conservatively; while short skirts and tank tops may be comfortable, they may encourage unwanted attention or might not be culturally appropriate.
    • Do not walk alone at night or in questionable or unfamiliar neighborhoods.
    • Do not agree to meet a person whom you do not know well in a non-public place.
    • Be aware that some men from other countries tend to mistake the friendliness of American women for romantic interest. If a man makes comments on the street, do not react at all. You may feel rude not to smile or say hello, but a simple smile could be the signal that you are interested.
    • Watch how the local women act. You may find that they avoid eye contact with men, ignore all street comments, or walk arm-in-arm with another woman.
    • Listen to your instincts. If something does not seem right, remove yourself from the situation.
  • INTERNATIONAL SOS (ISOS)
  • Penn Abroad requires that all Penn students maintain coverage that is valid in their home country, even when studying abroad. 

    Students who study on a Penn Abroad approved program are covered by Penn’s International SOS (ISOS) membership while abroad.  Penn’s International SOS (ISOS) membership includes travel medical insurance and evacuation assistance for Penn students, faculty and staff traveling abroad on Penn-affiliated trips.  Below is a summary of ISOS member benefits. 

    In order to receive notification of ISOS membership, a detailed summary of benefits and a link to download their ISOS member card, travelers must register their Penn-affiliated trip, including roundtrip flight itinerary, in Penn’s Global Activities Registry.  Penn Abroad students should not register their own trip in GAR – the Penn Abroad Office will input your basic information and you will be prompted to provide your flight information.

    International SOS (ISOS) coverage includes:

    Medical Services

    • Travel health insurance
    • Accidental Death & Dismemberment
    • Emergency evacuation
    • Medically-supervised repatriation
    • Additional travel and accommodation assistance after medical evacuation
    • Repatriation of mortal remains
    • Inpatient admission and medical monitoring
    • Emergency and routine medical advice
    • Pre-trip information on travel health issues
    • Medical and dental referrals
    • Outpatient referrals, appointment arrangement and outpatient case management
    • Claims assistance
    • Outpatient medical expense guarantee and payment, with Penn's authorization
    • Inpatient medical expense guarantee, cost review and payment, with Penn's authorization
    • Dispatch of medication and medical supplies

    Travel Services

    • Legal referrals

    Translations and interpreters

    • Lost travel document advice
    • Emergency personal cash advances
    • Lost baggage
    • Trip interruption

    International SOS Clinics

    Security Services

    • Security evacuation assistance
    • Online travel security assistance
    • Emergency and routine security advice

    For more information, please visit Penn’s International Travel Guidance website or contact Jaime Molyneux, Director of International Risk Management.

    Additional Information

    • U.S. Department of State advice.  The U.S. Department of State offers advice on medical insurance and other medical issues abroad.
    • Host Country/Institution Insurance.  In many countries, regardless of your U.S. and travel insurance coverage, you must also purchase the national or institutional health insurance.  Your program will let you know if this is the case during the application and/or pre-departure process.
  • GLOBAL ACTIVITIES REGISTRY (GAR)
  • The Global Activities Registry is Penn’s central resource for collecting information about the travel plans and activities of faculty, staff, and students preparing to travel abroad. By registering with the Global Activities Registry, Penn can respond more effectively when there is an incident such as a natural disaster or civil unrest overseas by knowing who is in the area. In the event of an emergency, Penn Abroad and International SOS will have access to your travel information as well as your emergency contacts.

In Case of Emergency

During regular business hours call +1-215-898-9073.

After business hours, on holidays, and weekends call Penn Police +1-215-573-3333.

Contact Our Office

Penn Abroad
3701 Chestnut Street, Suite 1W
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tel: (215) 898-9073
Fax (215) 898-2622

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