Of course parents are often concerned about their children’s safety while abroad. It helps to make this realization: the U.S. is among those countries with the highest number of citizens with private gun ownership and also has amongst the highest number of deaths from guns. In addition, the drug and alcohol abuse in America is among the highest in the world. Furthermore, the media often over-sensationalize political upheavals, strife, and natural disasters abroad.
Study Abroad programs and/or offices (such as the UI Study Abroad Office) cannot guarantee the safety of your child, and neither can they monitor the decisions that your child makes while abroad. Often, U.S. norms of due process, rights, and equality are not enforced in the host country. The Study Abroad Office realizes its responsibility of remaining in contact with program administrators, resident directors, and any other staff who are in touch with students abroad, and closely observes the U.S. Department of State safety updates.
Participants need to know and obey the laws of the host country because they are subject to the laws of that country regardless of their own rights as Americans. American civil rights and legal procedures are not protected once Americans leave their homeland. Prison conditions may be sub-standard and pre-trial bail may be different and/or non-existent in the host country.
The Embassy or Consulate in the host country can provide only limited kinds of assistance to Americans. They cannot bail a person out of jail or convince officials to bend laws for Americans in the host country.
Parents may ask the Study Abroad Office for health information of the host country, or they can get information at www.tripprep.com
. Most study abroad sites have good medical access, and the U.S. Embassy can provide students with a list of English-speaking doctors. Common ailments include diarrhea, Hepatitis A, Malaria, and Tetanus.
Students on exchange must avoid any involvement with illegal drugs. Many drug laws in foreign countries are severe. Students have been jailed for possessing only three grams (less than 1/10 of an ounce) of marijuana, and the average sentence for drug use worldwide is 7 years.