Health and Safety Abroad

Jet Lag​

Airplane travel can be exhausting, especially on a long flight. Jet lag is especially common when changing time zones. Some things that may help you to overcome jet lag quickly include:

  • Sleep as much as possible during your flight.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid becoming hydrated.
  • Try to adjust to the schedule in your new location as quickly as possible. Although it may be tempting to go to sleep once you arrive, you will be better served by staying awake until the evening.

Medical Care Abroad​

Should you find yourself in need of medical attention while abroad, immediately contact your on-site coordinator or faculty leader. S/he will be able to provide you with specific information about where to seek medical attention.

Food and Water​

As you travel to a new country and begin to try new foods, you may feel ill until your body adjusts to the new water and cuisine. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • In countries where sanitation may be questionable, only drink beverages that have been boiled (e.g. tea) or that come in sealed containers.
  • Only eat fruit that you peel yourself so you can be sure that it has not been contaminated with unclean water.
  • Don't use ice cubes! Ice cubes have not been boiled and pose the same risks as tap water.
  • Try to continue eating the same number of meals that you would eat in the United States. Now is not the time to try dieting.

Many countries offer a variety of food sold from roadside stands. It is not recommended that you eat food from these establishments. Although host nationals may have no difficulties eating from such places, you will not have developed the same immunities and will be more likely to fall ill.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases​

You should use the same precautions abroad as you take here at home. For more important information regarding sexually transmitted diseases and prevention, please visit the CMU Health Services website.

Tips for Securing Valuables​

Before you begin packing, take some time to evaluate what you plan to pack. It is recommended that you not over pack and just take what you absolutely need. Do not take valuables with you that could be lost, stolen or broken during your travels.

Packing: Never pack essentials (documents/computers/medicine/forms of money) in your checked luggage; be sure to put them in your carry on bag.

Money: It is recommended that you not carry large amounts of cash. Have more than one way to access money (should your debit card not work, you can use a credit card to charge necessary expenses).  Be sure to notify your bank before traveling internationally. Many banks will automatically cancel a card that is being used abroad without previous notification. See Money Matters section of this website for more information.

Luggage: Mark all luggage, inside and out, with your name and address. Mark your checked bags in some distinctive way, so they are easily spotted. Travel light; it is safer and easier. Current flight regulations prohibit you from putting certain types of locks on your luggage ‐ if you would like to use locks, be sure to purchase "TSA Approved" locks. Due to recent changes in regulations, a variety of items, including liquids are prohibited in your carry‐on luggage. You should check with your airline for full details on these restrictions. Also, take a look at the TSA website for updates on regulations.

Medicines: It is recommended that you take enough medication to last the duration of your study abroad program. Be sure to take a copy of your prescription(s) with the generic name of the drug(s). Leave your medications in the original packaging. Take a prescription from your doctor in case you run out of medication. A note from your doctor, particularly for controlled substances, is important to carry with you to prove that you are legally in possession of the medication. If you wear glasses, it is also recommended that you take an extra pair of glasses and your lenses prescription with you.

Passport: Make several copies of your passport and leave one copy at home. If your passport is lost or stolen, you should report it to the local police immediately. Go immediately to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to apply for a new passport. Bring the police report with you to the Embassy or Consulate.

Driving Abroad​

CMU strongly discourages students from driving in a foreign country. Rules of the road may be different, driving may be on the other side of the road and, whenever a person is not familiar with the area, it is more challenging and more dangerous. Also keep in mind that an international driver's license is required and that you will most likely not have insurance coverage in a foreign country.

Crime, Violence, and Terrorism​

While many countries around the world have a much lower crime rate than the United States, no place is 100% safe. Tourists often become targets of petty crimes, including pick-pocketing and minor theft because they do not remain vigilant. It is important to always be aware of your surroundings and protect your personal belongings. We strongly encourage you to always use a safety pouch to protect your money and personal documents when traveling. Keep your handbag, backpack, suitcase close to you. Keep your arm through the straps at all times.

In recent years, terrorism has impacted students abroad. In case of an emergency or terrorist attack, contact your site director or faculty leader immediately. This is important so that all program participants can quickly be accounted for and that information can be relayed to CMU and your family.

Be sure to keep your site director and/or family members informed of your travel plans so that you can easily be located. Always check current U.S. State Department travel information for countries that you are visiting well in advance of your departure.

FBI Caution about Espionage

The FBI warns that American citizens, including students, can be the targets of espionage recruitment. View the video below that tells the story of one student who was recruited by a foreign government and convicted of espionage. ​

Useful Websites

The following websites provide useful inform​ation regarding health and safety abroad: