Health and Safety

Students’ health and safety while abroad or away is of primary importance to Study Abroad and Away and SJSU. To help you understand the institution's role in this process, as well as your own responsibilities, we encourage you to review the following information on staying healthy and staying safe during your program.

Staying Healthy

It’s important to prepare for any health-related needs before your program. Review the information below regarding on-campus resources (including consultations from the Student Wellness Center), tips from the CDC, health insurance, important pre-departure preparation, tips for managing your mental health, and COVID-19 protocols.

On-Campus Resources

The following centers and departments offer important resources to assist students with their physical and mental health, safety and security on SJSU's campus. The Study Abroad and Away department works with these offices to ensure students receive the support they need during their time away.

Travel Care Consultations

Our on-campus wellness center provides travel care consultations and services for students to minimize and prevent risks of illness and accidents while abroad. Services include:

  • Providing a country-specific travel packet regarding food/water/insect precautions/health and safety
  • Administering several travel vaccines and/or prescriptions if needed

More information about this service can be found at the Student Wellness Center. We recommend that students call the appointment desk at (408) 924-5678 to inquire about this service.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention

We encourage all participants to be familiar with the CDC page, especially their resources on travelers' health. The CDC provides up-to-date country-specific health information, which is very helpful in preparation for overseas travel.

Health Insurance

All participants in an SJSU Study Abroad program located outside of the U.S. and U.S. territories are required to carry an international insurance plan. The insurance plan covers illnesses, medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation costs while abroad.

Faculty-Led Program, Summer School Abroad, and SJSU Exchange program participants are enrolled into the SJSU international insurance plan for the dates of their program by the Study Abroad and Away department. The cost of this insurance is included in the total program cost for Faculty-Led Program and Summer School Abroad students, while SJSU Exchange students will pay for insurance separately. Prior to their program, students receive an email from the SJSU Risk Manager with insurance enrollment confirmation, their ID card and an insurance brochure detailing their benefits.

For Faculty-Led Program and Summer School Abroad participants, the insurance only covers the period of time within the dates of their program. For SJSU Exchange participants, the Study Abroad and Away office will send students an email with their insurance start and end dates. If a student plans to travel independently before or after these coverage dates, they will need to arrange additional insurance coverage on their own.

Before Departure

Below are some other important tips and steps you should take before you depart for your program to ensure you are prepared for any general health-related needs.

1) Meet with your doctor: It is really important that you meet with your primary doctor (or the SJSU Wellness Center) before you go abroad. You will want to discuss your travel plans, suggested vaccinations (not only the COVID-19 vaccine) or routine updates that you may need to get before you go abroad, and the medications you take and how you will continue taking those medications while abroad.

2) Research and obtain any required immunizations/vaccinations: Your doctor may or may not know all of the suggested or required vaccines for entry into your host country. Before you make your appointment, we advise you to check for a list of required and recommended vaccines and to alert your physician in advance if you are planning on getting those vaccines at your appointment.

Please note that providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination may be a requirement of the host country to gain entrance and to have the ability to cross their border. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to plan ahead and get vaccinated for COVID-19 now, if you have not done so already. See the COVID-19 Protocols section for more details.

3) Prepare any medications/prescriptions: You may also want to do research on local laws in relation to prescription medications allowed into the host country. Some countries may not allow you to bring certain medications into the country, in which case you will need to coordinate closely with your physician and identify an alternate plan for ensuring you can maintain your health (possibly identifying an alternate medication). If you need to bring medication and/or prescriptions with you on the trip, you should:

  • Contact the embassy/consulate of your destination to check if you are able to bring your prescribed medication into the country. The International Narcotics Control Board also has some information on controlled substances per country, but the embassy will have the most accurate information.
  • Review the CDC's website for information and tips for traveling internationally with prescription medication.
  • Review TSA guidelines (see links below) to review procedures, policies, and tips for traveling with your specific prescriptions.
  • Bring a copy of your prescription.
  • Carry all prescription drugs in your personal item bag (remember to get a description of your medication from the pharmacy in case you need to show this information at the security checkpoints).
  • Leave your medications in their original containers and label.
  • Make sure to bring enough that will last during your trip. If this is not possible, talk with your doctor about getting a prescription you can potentially use to refill while abroad or an alternative treatment plan, if needed. The international insurance company may also be able to provide guidance on how to refill prescriptions abroad.

4) Research local health-related issues: Some sites may have local environmental issues that you need to be aware of before you head out. Please research local issues before you leave (e.g. air pollution in Beijing, zika, dengue fever, etc.) By doing this research you can be aware of what issues are present in your destination and learn ways of avoiding those issues or what you can do if you come into contact with them. Sometimes just knowing what is out there can be the best tool in how you make decisions to reduce the possibility of having problems.

Most often the issues we see our students having with their health while abroad are attributed to flu- or cold-like symptoms. Do some research about your host country to determine if there are any concerns about the following issues:

  • Food-borne & water-borne illnesses – “traveler’s diarrhea”
  • Insect bites & toxic plants
  • Challenges adjusting to hot/cold weather

Mental Health and Self Care

Mental health is relevant to anyone and everyone. Without healthy tools, forms of support and connection, and self-awareness, anyone can experience deterioration in their mental health. While starting new things and having exciting experiences such as studying abroad or away can be fun and fulfilling, they can also prompt changes in our mental health that we do not expect. Here are a few things to keep in mind before heading off on your global experience.

It is important that those already being treated for mental health conditions develop a plan for how they will maintain their wellness while away. Some questions you may consider include:

  • If you take medications, have you communicated with your doctor to ensure you have enough medication for the entirety of the time you will be away or have a back-up plan for if you lose or forget medications?
  • If you have been attending counseling, have you spoken with your counselor about any concerns you have about discontinuing sessions while you are away or identified alternative solutions?
  • Have you developed a list of the coping skills you can utilize when overwhelmed or triggered?

For those of us dealing with ongoing concerns around our mental health, planning ahead can be an excellent way to prepare ourselves for any unknown challenges that could arise when we are out of the country.

Even if you have not experienced mental health concerns in the past, life in a new place can prompt some changes in functioning. Here are a few ways to consider taking care of yourself when away.

1) Check in with yourself regularly. Have you been sleeping more than usual or not at all? Have you been eating and drinking water consistently? Has your substance use greatly increased? How is your mood? Are you experiencing grief or anxiety about being in a new place? Checking in with yourself and identifying what you need can allow you to get back on track before a crisis occurs.

2) Emphasize connection. Do you have one or two people you trust in the US that you could tell if you were having a mental health crisis or not feeling well while away? Get creative about how to connect with people despite time differences (postcards, scheduled phone calls, etc.). Identify people and resources quickly where you are who you feel comfortable going to with questions or to help you process your experience.

3) Create a coping toolkit. Whether having coloring books or puzzles, downloading a meditation app, practicing breathing exercises, journaling, or making sure you’re regularly working out, everyone has their own preferred ways of coping. Rather than waiting until you are not doing well, when it can be hard to think clearly, creating a viable list of coping skills while healthy and calm can be helpful to both keep you on track or get you back on track when not doing well.

4) Bring it back to basics. Whenever you are struggling, it’s best to keep things as simple as possible. Self-care checklists, creating a consistent schedule, or asking for help are all good ways to slow down, focus on one need at a time, and reorient yourself when you are overwhelmed.

5) Identify crisis resources and know when enough is enough. While no one imagines leaving their study abroad/away experience prematurely, it is better that you are safe than pushing through and risking your safety. If you find yourself having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it is important you contact someone immediately. If you are discovering you cannot function at all, work with someone in your program as soon as possible so that they can work with you on a plan to ensure that you are safe and taken care of.

While Student Wellness Center Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) cannot provide counseling to students who are in other countries due to California regulations, that does not mean that students cannot utilize CAPS for support.

In addition to these workshops, students can access online resources such as TAO and YOU@SJSU.

  • TAO (Therapy Assisted Online) is a web-based, interactive program available to students through their SJSU login information. TAO includes tools such as a mindfulness library and educational modules.
  • YOU@SJSU is accessible to SJSU students with their login information. It is a portal which allows you to enter areas of interest or concern to receive feedback on articles and resources that might be helpful to you.

Students can also contact the CAPS main phone number or email address with any specific questions or recommendations; please find their contact and additional information at Counseling & Psychological Services.

Take care of yourself as much as you can before you go and take care of yourself while you are away. Remember, it is never too late to adjust to healthier mindsets and behaviors.

Study Abroad & Away COVID-19 Protocols

The Study Abroad and Away Office has aligned fully with the San José State University COVID-19 vaccination policy. In accordance with this policy, we strongly recommend that all students participating in an SJSU Study Abroad and Away (SAA) program be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Vaccination Requirement

Our primary focus in aligning with the SJSU vaccination policy and respecting local, regional, national, and international regulations​/​requirements is to ensure our students, faculty, and staff enjoy a successful and healthy experience abroad/away, and to respect and support the well-being of the communities in which we operate programs.

Please note that if there is an external (non-SJSU) mandate, regulation, guideline or policy requiring proof of vaccination or testing for any portion of the study abroad and away program, students must comply with these requirements; exemptions will not be allowed.

We have added an easy to identify label to program brochures to quickly identify programs that have a component(s) that will require proof of full vaccination. If you see this label, it means that you will need to be fully vaccinated to participate in the program.

Group programming (Faculty-led Programs and Alternative Break Programs)

Group study abroad/away programs (Faculty-Led Programs and Alternative Break Programs) will follow the SJSU health and safety protocols and vaccination mandates as they are on campus, as well as any location-specific health and safety protocols of the host organization/city/country.

On a short-term program, students travel as a group, sharing hotel rooms and local transportation (namely coach buses, trains, etc). Students participating in Faculty-led Programs are also completing 3-6 academic units in an expedited time frame. As such, if a student were to miss any of the program or not be allowed to participate in a program component because proof of vaccination is required, they would not be able to successfully complete the program.

Some partner organizations, hotels, museums, and other excursion/site visits on our Faculty-led Programs may require proof of full vaccination. Some countries may require quarantine upon arrival for unvaccinated travelers and/or rigorous and frequent testing protocols and regulations. If there is a required quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers mandated upon arrival, and it is a) prohibitively long or b) prohibitively expensive, SAA reserves the right to cancel the program to mitigate and reduce any unnecessary financial burdens that may be a result of such a policy.

Individual/Independent Study Abroad Programs (SJSU Exchange, ISEP, CSUIP, Summer School Abroad)

SJSU’s individual/independent study abroad programs include SJSU Exchange, ISEP, CSU IP and Summer School Abroad. Entry requirements are constantly evolving, and although a COVID-19 vaccine requirement may not be required upon application to an individual study abroad program, vaccination could be required at a later date if there are changes in country-specific entry requirements. Students participating in individual study abroad programs are required to adhere to location-specific health and safety protocols of the host organization/city/country.

Staying Safe

Student safety while abroad or away is of primary importance to Study Abroad and Away. We continuously monitor our program locations to ensure they are safe for our students. We continue to provide support and guidance to students while they are away, and all of our program leaders for Faculty-Led Programs receive extensive safety and security training. In addition, our office partners with SJSU University Police to ensure that a skilled SJSU staff member is available and on call 24/7 while students are away to manage any emergent issues that arise. Review the information below regarding travel advisories (including the STEP program), what to do in an emergency and managing non-emergencies.

Safety Notifications

The Study Abroad and Away office has access to a variety of tools to help us manage risk and be in touch with our students in case something happens. All Study Abroad and Away students participating in an international experience are required to enroll in any risk management programs and communication tools used by the office. Students will receive instructions on how to enroll during their pre-departure orientation.

Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP)

All SJSU students participating in study abroad are required to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

STEP is a free service from the U.S. Department of State to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to register their time abroad with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, the U.S. Embassy will know how to reach students in the event of an emergency (natural disaster, civil unrest, etc.) and could assist if an evacuation becomes necessary. STEP is also a resource for families to reach students in the event of an emergency, in case communications are interrupted. Additionally, students will receive important informational emails from the Embassy about safety conditions in their host country.

Prior to departure, students are required to enroll in STEP for the duration of their program. If you plan to travel before or after your program dates, please make sure to note this in your STEP registration.*

*For Faculty-Led Program participants: If you are participating in a Faculty-Led Program, your faculty leader will enroll you in STEP as part of the group. Please note that there may be restrictions on traveling outside of your program location during your program.

Emergency Situations

Depending on the nature of the emergency (including but not exclusive to: a major medical issue, an arrest, an assault, political unrest, natural disaster, etc.), students should immediately contact the proper authorities in order of importance:

  1. In-country emergency medical, police, or consular services.
  2. In-country program management staff, which can include your host institution's emergency contact or faculty program leader.
  3. SJSU University Police Department (UPD) at 408-924-2222.
  4. If in need of medical assistance, contact the AXA Travel Assistance Program, your SJSU-provided insurance carrier. AXA will assist you in getting the care you need.
  5. SJSU Study Abroad Office at
  6. Family and friends to keep them updated on the situation when necessary.

Non-Emergency Situations

If experiencing a non-emergency, but still have a concern, question, or need non-urgent assistance during your program, students should email A Study Abroad and Away staff member will respond to any concerns or questions.

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