Semester in Florence
Health and Safety

You've been accepted to a program - now what?!

One of the biggest decisions you make during your time at JMU will be whether you want to participate on a study abroad. It's important to take your person health and safety in to account when making the decision to commit to a program. 

Prior to sending in your deposit, we highly recommend that you take in to consideration the many factors related to health and safety that could influence your study abroad, including individual risk tolerance. The resources below are designed to give you a few things to consider during your decision-making process. Please note that the resources below are not meant to be exhaustive, but rather provide a starting point. 

As you decide to study abroad, please continue to consult the below information, and attend all orientation sessions held by the Center for Global Engagement and your individual program diretor. 

As always, we are happy to assist you if you have any questions. Please email to set up an appointment.

Student International Travel Considerations

Physical Health Abroad

Be proactive, prepared, and protected.

  • Schedule doctor's visits prior to leaving so you can be up-to-date on your health
  • Discuss mental health issues (stress, anxiety, eating disorders, depression, etc.) and work with your doctor on making a plan of action
  • Research current health advisories for your country of destination
  • Prior to going abroad, get any necessary medications and ask for enough supply to cover the duration of your program
  • Pack prescriptions with you in a carry-on bag in case of lost luggage
  • Bring any over-the-counter items you may need - you might not be able to find the same item overseas

Have easy access to your health insurance information and check your coverage. 

  • You will be enrolled in CISI Insurance, a supplemental international health insurance, which is included in your program fee
  • Let your insurance company know of travel plans and check on coverage
  • Keep a copy of your insurance card and the CISI insurance card handy during travel

Utilize services provided by the JMU University Health Center.

The JMU University Health Center has many services available to prepare students for study abroad, from talking through your health preparation to actually administering the needed vaccinations. They also have an in-house International Travel Consultation, which is available by appointment, to discuss travel preparation and needed vaccinations for your particular program with a doctor or nurse. Please see their website and brochure for more details. 

Mental Health Abroad

Mental health issues travel with you. 

  • Discuss mental health issues (stress, anxeity, eating disorders, depression, etc.) with your dcotor or therapist
  • Going on a study abroad isn't an escape from mental health struggles you may be experiencing here in the U.S.
  • Mental health struggles can be amplified in a new setting - this is normal, but be prepared

Talk with your program director.

  • Prior to committing to a program, talk with your program director to see what obstacles to your mental health might exist on that program 
  • While abroad, keep your program directors in the loop with the things you may be struggling with - they are here to help

Utilize the JMU Counseling Center.

The JMU Counseling Center has a wealth of resources on their website. Specific articles on homesickness, adjusting to changes, social anxiety, and taking care of yourself might be helpful to consult. They also offer the Therapist Assisted Online free-of-charge for any JMU student to use in times of need. While abroad, you are welcome to call the emergency crisis number if your timezone doesn't line up well with regular business hours in the U.S. This is available even if it's not an emergency: 540-568-6552

Utilize services provided by your CISI insurance coverage.

Students enrolled in CISI coverage who need urgent mental health counseling can seek assistance by contacting Team Assist (312-935-1703 if calling outside the US) who will connect them via phone with a US-based licensed mental health counselor. Three free visits are allowed (the counselor will not be the same each time). Urgent mental health counseling is not designed for ongoing, maintenance counseling, similar to what a student might have at home.

For non-urgent mental health counseling, which could include routine in-person or online sessions, the student can 1) seek help from a list of online counselors partnered with CISI, 2) call CISI for a counselor referral, or 3) inquire with friends or locals in-country to find a licensed mental health counselor for in-person sessions. Bills for services can be sent to CISI directly, or students can file with CISI for reimbursement.

Safety Abroad

Do your research. 

Develop a communication plan.

  • Inform parents/guardians/families and any others who may need to know about your participation in the study abroad program, and keep them informed throughout the program
  • Provide parents/guardian/families with emergency contact information
  • Keep your program director in the loop should you choose to travel away from the program site
  • Promptly express any safety concerns to your program director
  • Make effort to travel in pairs or as a group

Be vigilant and responsible while abroad.

  • Understand and comply with the terms of participation, codes of conduct, and emergency procedures of the program, and obey host-country laws
  • Behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well-being of others and encourage others to behave in a similar fashion
  • Accept responsibility for your own decisions and actions


*Tips were adapted from the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

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