Health & Safety

We believe that it is important for students to have a study abroad experience during their college career, if they are able to do so. At the same time, it is the goal of the Global Engagement Office and Samford University for students and faculty to travel safely, and return home to share the stories of their adventures. We therefore pay close attention to international events, and to the alerts and warnings issued by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. State Department. 

It is sometimes necessary for the Global Engagement Office to cancel a pending study abroad trip, because of conditions at the destination. When this occurs, students will not be held financially liable for the trip. We also require all students to have health insurance valid in the country in which they will be traveling (to the extent possible) and require travel insurance to destinations at greater risk for having a trip cancelled.

We encourage both students and parents to inform themselves about travel conditions in the country where they will be traveling, and to consult the state department website for information about travel alerts or travel warnings. Below are the definitions of these two terms provided by the state department:

Travel Alerts

We issue travel alerts for short-term events we think you should know about when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a travel alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, we cancel the travel alert.

Travel Warnings

We issue a travel warning when we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a travel warning might include unstable government, civil war or ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.

While you are abroad, you must exercise the same safety precautions that you would at home. Don’t take the attitude that you are protected and safe because you are anonymous and no one knows you. Don’t travel with anything that you are not prepared to lose. Use your common sense, avoid confrontations, try to blend in as much as possible, try to familiarize yourself with the area, ask the locals where the safe part of town is, and if you feel insecure in a certain place, don’t go there. Do not expose yourself to unnecessarily dangerous situations. It will be difficult to fully hide the fact that you’re a foreigner. That may make you more vulnerable to theft and crime. While you can’t control everything that happens to you at home or abroad, you can sway the odds.


Practical suggestions

  • Observe the local culture and customs, and try to blend in. 
  • Keep all valuables on your person in a discreet place, preferably stowed away in a money belt or a pouch that hangs around your neck and under clothing. Do not leave valuables unattended. 
  • Do not agree to watch the belongings of a person whom you do not know. 
  • Do not borrow suitcases. Ensure that nothing unusual is inserted into your suitcase. 
  • Travel light! Pack half as many clothes and twice as much money. 
  • Avoid impairing your judgment due to excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • Keep up with the local news through newspapers, radio, and television and, in the event of disturbances or protests, do not get involved. 
  • Report suspicious events immediately, either to your professor or local law enforcement.
  • If you have been a victim of a crime, report this immediately. If you wish to speak directly to someone at Samford University, call the emergency assistance number at 205-726-2020. 
  • Understand and comply with the terms of participation, codes of conduct and emergency procedures of the program. 
  • Learn the location of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 
  • Behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well-being of others. Comply with local laws, regulations and customs of the host country, community, institution and study abroad program, and encourage others to behave in a similar manner. 
  • Become familiar with the local emergency number (comparable to 911) and the procedures for obtaining emergency health and law enforcement services in the host country. 
  • Be aware you are responsible for your own decisions and actions. 
  • Make an agreement with your fellow students that you will look out for each other and practice peer responsibility.