Health and safety abroad

The safety of students, faculty and staff traveling abroad is the top priority of our office. This is why we provide programs in areas where we have experienced partners, and we continually monitor travel warnings from the U.S. State Department and health information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

If you need emergency help during your program, call the Office of Study Abroad & Global Programs at 001-313-577-3207. If you need help outside of business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. EST), call Wayne State Police at 001-313-577-2222. 

Travel Advisories 

Travel Advisories are issued by the State Department to detail long-term, prolonged conditions that make a country unstable or dangerous. Alerts detail immediate conditions that could potentially expose U.S. citizens to safety or security issues such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events.  

Generally, we suspend planned study abroad programs for locations that have a travel warning or health warning. If a warning is issued after a program begins, we take many factors into account while deciding how to proceed. We consult with Wayne State University leadership, officials from the foreign host universities or overseas providers and experts on the region. Potential resolutions include providing students with the opportunity to return to the U.S., continuing the program, relocating the program to an alternative site, suspending program operations, or closing the program and returning all participants to the U.S.

If Wayne State cancels a program or suspends travel before the program begins, you will receive a full refund for all money you have paid. If the program is closed or suspended in-progress, we will make every effort to safely evacuate participants. All recoverable funds and refunds from canceled activities will be returned to you. 

You can review advisories and alerts for every country from the State Department site. You can also register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to enroll your trip with the nearest embassy or consulate and receive updates to travel advisories. If you are traveling on a Wayne State faculty-led program, we'll register you for STEP.  

If you voluntarily withdraw from a program that Wayne State has not officially cancelled, closed or suspended, you are responsible for all costs outlined in your program-specific withdrawal and refund policy found on the Program Acceptance Form. You can review our general refund policies on our Costs and Payments page. 

Safety Tips

Check out the U.S. Students Abroad  and Know Before You Go sections of the State Department's website to learn more helpful safety tips.  Our pre-departure orientation sessions also cover ways to stay safe and healthy during your program. 

Getting Lost:

  • To prevent getting lost while abroad, stay with your group, take note of the name and contact information of your hotel/lodging, and pay attention to the names of street intersections/bus stops.
  • If you do get lost, stay in a well-lit, populated area and call your program direction/host family.
  • If you cannot reach anyone locally, contact the Office of Study Abroad and Global Programs at 001-313-577-3207 during business hours or WSU Public Safety at 001-313-577-2222 on evenings and weekends.
  • If you cannot access a phone, try to get to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for further assistance.

Natural Disasters or Political Instability:

To Prepare: 

  • Register your itinerary with the US Department of State so that they can assist you in case of an emergency. If you are participating in a faculty-led program, this will be done for you. However, if you are deviating or going on an exchange program or [JCMU/Xalapa, etc.], you should do this on your own.
  • Make sure that you take your insurance card with you.
  • Fill out the emergency contact information page of your passport.
  • Take copies of your passport, credit cards, flight information, hotel/residence information, and health insurance information with you and keep them in a location that is separate from your originals. Also leave a copy with a close friend or relative at home.
  • Carry extra cash just for emergencies

If a Natural Disaster or Act of Terrorism Occurs: 

  • Stay in or return to your hotel as soon as possible.
  • Get to a safe location out of immediate danger.
  • If the situation is severe, go to the closest US Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible.
  • If you can't reach the embassy, contact local law enforcement or the Red Cross.
  • Contact the US Department of State at 001-202-501-4444 for additional help.
  • Contact the Office of Study Abroad and Global Programs at 001-313-577-3207 or 001-313-577-2222 (Public Safety) as soon as possible to let us know of your whereabouts and communicate anything you may need to know.

Substance Use and Nightlife Precautions:

  • Alcohol plays a major role in the majority of accidents and injuries to U.S. students abroad. If you drink, do so responsibly.
  • Each student is responsible for knowing the laws, rules, regulations, and group expectations of their own particular program. Even though certain substances may be legal abroad, using those substances are not necessarily risk free. Individual WSU faculty-led trips and other third-party study abroad organizations may ban this behavior, and engaging in substances abroad against program rules may be grounds for program expulsion.
  • While abroad, you are subject to the laws of the country you are visiting, not to those of the U.S.  If you are arrested on any charge, you may face charges and conditions that are much more different than those at home. 
  • Travel in groups. Never walk alone at night. Do not feel that you must be polite if you are receiving unwanted advances.
  • Learn about local customs and what is considered appropriate and inappropriate in social situations.  Try to blend in.
  • Practice responsible and safe sex.

Lost/Stolen Belongings:

Preventing theft:

  • Wear a money belt, money pouch or hidden pocket. Carry small bills and coins in a travel wallet. 
  • Hotels are relatively safe, but it is still not wise to leave your passport, large sums of money, etc. in your hotel room.
  • Have copies of your important documents in your hotel room and with a close friend or family member at home.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Often thieves work in teams, with one person/group creating a distraction and another picking your pocket.
  • Keep your bag zipped shut and turned toward you.
  • Be especially careful at subway/bus stops where a thief can jump on, take your belongings, and run before the doors close. Similarly, watch out when you go through a turnstyle (in a metro, etc.) 

If you are the victim of a theft:

  • File a police report. You will need this for insurance purposes and to replace your passport, if it was stolen.
  • Go to the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy if you need a replacement passport or if you need help in getting money wired to you. 

We're here to answer any questions you have about your destination! Reach out to us at