Health & Safety

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Your Personal Health

Students MUST take responsibility for their own health, well-being and disability accommodation requests. If you have a medical condition, our insurance provider can help you find health resources at your destination. We also encourage you to share information with your program coordinator/director.

If you are on a faculty/staff-led ISU group program, it is particularly important for you to reveal all medical conditions to your program director.

ISU Student Disability Resources Office

Do you currently work with this office on campus? Do you have special accommodations? Make sure these details are known by your program coordinator/director and have your documentation ready so that it can be sent to your program. We are unable to guarantee that your Iowa State accommodations will be honored abroad, but we will do all we can to advocate for you.

Health Resources


Always review your routine (childhood) vaccination record.

If you are going to Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Antarctica - No special vaccinations are typically needed.

If you have an existing medical condition, see your regular doctor to plan for your time abroad.

If you are going to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central or South America, Africa, Asia - You may need to consult with ISU Thielen Student Health Center.

Call at least 8 weeks ahead of departure.

These services are available:

  • Travel clinic
  • Vaccinations
  • First aid kits


If possible, take enough medication to last the entire program duration. Take an original written prescription, preferably written for a generic version of your medication. Prescription medications MUST remain in the original containers with your name on it. If you wear glasses or contacts, take along a spare pair and take your lens prescription with you. If you take a controlled substance, take more than two medications, or take a medication by injection, take a letter from your physician that describes your medical condition and the need to carry these items with you. Check with your program advisor to make sure that your medication is legal to carry into the country.


Carry your insurance information with you at all times. Students on ISU programs will have On Call International insurance automatically. Students attending AIFS, CEA, ISA, or TEAN programs will be covered by comparable insurance through their program.


You MUST take all prescriptions in your carry-on bag. Bring basic health/medical supplies in your checked bags (condoms, feminine supplies, etc.) Consider using compression socks for your flight. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Be prepared for jet lag.

While Abroad

Continue to take any medications that you are currently on. Be aware of the consequences of combining alcohol and your medication. Research drinking water and the regulations for food preparation in your country. Watch for symptoms of culture shock. Avoid making big decisions until you have a chance to settle in. Get assistance if you are feeling depressed or withdrawn.


ISU Study Abroad Statement on Safety and Security

The safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff who participate in ISU programs abroad is of the highest importance. ISU employs a variety of resources to evaluate the safety of travel to a particular destination:

  • U.S. Department of State travel advisories
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • In-country program partners
  • Consultation with US embassy and consulate security officers
  • Private security and intelligence providers
  • Peer institution international risk

 We also provide travelers the resources and tools to help make their international travel experience a success, including:

  • Access to emergency security, medical and claims assistance through our international insurance carrier.
  • Registration with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • A subscription for security alerts.

ISU’s policies and procedures also are designed to protect the safety and well-being of study abroad participants. Undergraduate international travel and study abroad programs in high-risk destinations require special review and approval. Sponsorship and student financial aid may be withdrawn, and programs may be canceled under certain circumstances.

Students should also do the following:

  • Blend in
  • Use the buddy system
  • Use a neck pouch or money belt
  • Carry your insurance card
  • Know the local equivalent of 911 for your location
  • Store an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number on your cell phone so that emergency/medical personnel can contact your family
  • Register with the U.S. State Department through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
  • List current emergency contact information in ISUAbroad

Special Safety Note:

The major cause of student injury or death in overseas programs is traffic accidents. According to the U.S. State Department, road travel is the greatest risk to healthy Americans abroad. This does not refer to driving but as a pedestrian. Learn as much as you can about road signs, customs, and driving behaviors in all locations you plan to travel to. Most importantly, be very aware of all traffic around you at all times (including mopeds!).

Protection of Person Data in the European Union:

A notice regarding the protection of person data for students studying abroad in the European Union and subject to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can be found in full at the link below.

GDPR notice

Study Abroad Conduct Code

An Iowa State University (ISU) study abroad program provides the student involved with an opportunity to pursue academic study for credit outside the United States. Students are expected to take advantage of the cultural opportunities involved and are responsible for their behavior during the program. Iowa State University has developed the following Study Abroad Conduct Code that all students are required to follow while studying abroad:

Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedure, General

A student participating in an ISU study abroad program assumes a dual status as an ISU student and a student of the host institution and/or host country. ISU students abroad are subject to, and should be familiar with, ISU student conduct policies as well as the laws of their host country and the academic and disciplinary regulations of the host institution or residential housing program. Students should note that disciplinary policies for students studying abroad are more strict than ISU campus policies because of the broader consequences of student conduct when abroad; e.g., student conduct may affect ISU's relations with the host institution and local community or arouse anti-American sentiments. In addition, students should note that study abroad disciplinary procedures are more compressed than campus procedures due to the short duration of many ISU programs, the need to address disciplinary matters more quickly while traveling abroad, and the limited resources that are available in the host country to resolve disciplinary issues.

Student Conduct, Conditions of Participation

Before departure, ISU students studying abroad sign the Conditions of Participation form acknowledging their understanding of policies governing study abroad. The Conditions of Participation state:

  1. I understand and agree that, as a participant in an International Travel or Study Abroad Program (“Program”), I am subject to the following: a) the ISU Student Conduct Code (ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations), b) the ISU Study Abroad Conduct Code, c) host institution conduct codes, and d) host country laws.
  2. I understand that behavior that is not in accord with these Conditions of Participation may result in disciplinary actions, which could include dismissal from the Program and being returned to the United States. I further agree, if dismissed from the Program, to be responsible for all expenses incurred in returning to the United States and that I may need to return all or part of my financial aid.
  3. I understand that I may be dismissed from the Program if: a) I engage in actions endangering others or myself or b) my conduct is considered to be detrimental to or incompatible with the best interest and welfare of the Program.
  4. I fully understand that the procedures to be used at ISU in the event of my violation of any of the respective conduct regulations are the Study Abroad Disciplinary Procedures contained in the Study Abroad Conduct Code and that these procedures are in addition to procedures associated with any of the above-mentioned codes and laws.
  5. I understand that I am subject to the laws of my host country (and any other country in which I travel) and agree to abide by those laws. I further understand that ISU and the United States government will be limited in its ability to provide assistance in the event of my arrest or detainment. ISU may also institute disciplinary proceedings concerning my violation of the laws of a foreign country.
  6. I understand that in certain countries promoting religious, political, or personal agendas can be deemed illegal and as such could place me in legal jeopardy or imprisonment. I agree that I will not participate in such activities and behaviors.
  7. I understand that Program Directors may establish additional conditions of participation or requirements for a Program and that I am subject to all policies and requirements of a Program.

Prohibited Conduct

Misconduct by ISU students studying abroad can lead to removal from the study abroad program and may, in addition, result in a decision by ISU to impose further sanctions, such as suspension or dismissal from ISU. Misconduct abroad refers to student actions that, in the judgment of the Program Director and/or study abroad officials, jeopardize the student's own welfare or that of fellow students and/or the integrity of the program. Such actions include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Academic dishonesty
  • Obstruction or disruption of teaching or other university activities
  • Unauthorized absence from class and/or other organized program activities
  • Use of, or threats of, physical violence
  • Violating the laws of the country in which the student is traveling or living
  • Violating the academic or disciplinary regulations of the host university or residential housing program where the student is studying
  • Openly abusing the customs and mores of the host community
  • Damage to, or destruction of, property of others
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Eviction from one's lodging.

ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct) also apply to students in study abroad programs. A complete list of conduct and behavior that are subject to disciplinary sanctions by the ISU Dean of Students can be found in Section 4.2 of the ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct).

Special Note on Substance Abuse: Student use or possession of controlled substances may be punishable by severe penalties. Students caught with illegal drugs are subject to local laws of the country in which the student is traveling or living. In addition, personal involvement or association with others involved with drugs of any kind may be considered misconduct abroad and a violation of the Conditions of Participation.

Study Abroad Disciplinary Procedure

  1. Reporting Misconduct: The person who has observed or is aware of alleged student study abroad misconduct should contact the Program Director and report the misconduct and alleged violation.
  2. Investigation and Conduct Meeting: The Program Director is responsible for carrying out the initial investigation of all alleged student violations of the Study Abroad Conduct Code and ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct). Normally, this investigation should consist of interviews with the reporting party and any witnesses and a review of any written materials related to the misconduct. The person alleged to have violated the regulation or standard of conduct shall have the opportunity to explain what occurred at a conduct meeting with the Program Director. When the person alleged to have violated a regulation or standard of conduct is interviewed, he/she must be informed of the nature of the allegation, the regulations or policy allegedly violated, his/her right to respond, and the procedures to be followed.
  3. Verbal Warning: Program Directors or instructors are empowered to issue a verbal warning if they observe or have determined that a student’s behavior is not in accord with the Study Abroad Conduct Code.
    • Verbal Warning: An official, although oral, warning to the student that his/her conduct is in violation of the Study Abroad Conduct Code.
  4. Written Warning: If, after the investigation and conduct meeting where the student involved has the opportunity to discuss the alleged misconduct violation, the Program Director believes that disciplinary action is appropriate, the Program Director may issue a Written Warning.
    • Written Warning: An official written notice to the student of the study abroad misconduct violations and that failure to meet expected behavior or repeated violations may result in dismissal from the study abroad program. Written Warnings, whenever possible, shall be faxed or otherwise communicated to the appropriate study abroad officials within 48 hours of the occurrence. The information may be distributed to other campus units as appropriate.
  5. Dismissal from the Study Abroad Program: This sanction removes the student from a study abroad program. It is permitted when a student either fails to meet the conditions of a prior Written Warning or commits such a serious violation that it is contrary to paragraph #3 of the Conditions of Participation. Certain behaviors may lead to dismissal from a study abroad program. These include but are not limited to academic misconduct, eviction from housing on grounds of inappropriate conduct, exceeding the number of unexcused absences from class allowed for the program, willful destruction of property, posing a safety hazard to oneself or others, and criminal conduct. If, after an investigation and conduct meeting where the student involved has the opportunity to discuss the alleged misconduct violation, the Program Director believes that dismissal is appropriate, the Program Director will contact study abroad officials at ISU. All dismissal decisions shall be rendered in consultation with the ISU study abroad officials. An independent investigation of the incident and request for additional information may be applicable. If a decision to dismiss the student from the program is made, the Program Director shall issue a Dismissal Notice to the student.
    • Dismissal Notice: An official written notice to the student stating the study abroad misconduct violation(s) and the terms of the student’s dismissal from the study abroad program. Completed Dismissal Notices, with the student signature whenever possible, shall be faxed to ISU study abroad officials within 48 hours. The notice may be distributed to other campus units as appropriate. Although dismissal from a study abroad program does not constitute dismissal from ISU, ISU may elect to impose sanctions in addition to those imposed by the study abroad program. If a student from another institution is attending an ISU study abroad program and is subject to disciplinary action while in the ISU study abroad program, the student's home institution may also be notified.
  6. Appeal: A student may exercise his/her right to appeal a dismissal decision. This does not alter the student’s obligation to absent him/herself from all premises used by the program for the duration of the program and return to the United States. The appeal must be in the form of a letter to the ISU Dean of Students. This letter may include any relevant documents and testimonials that the student wishes to enter into the record. The Dean of Students or his/her designee shall either concur with or overturn the dismissal decision of the Program Director and ISU study abroad officials. He/she will inform the student in writing of the decision. This decision will also be communicated to ISU study abroad officials, Program Director, and host institution, if appropriate. ISU study abroad officials will be responsible to inform any other appropriate campus offices or officials. If a student from another institution is attending an ISU Study Abroad Program and is subject to disciplinary action while in the ISU study abroad program, the student's home institution will also be notified. ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations If the student's conduct is also in violation of the ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct), the ISU Office of Judicial Affairs may undertake disciplinary action, including imposing sanctions of suspension or expulsion from ISU. Such actions are pursuant to proceedings under Section 5.6 of the ISU Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct).

Consequences of Dismissal

Upon issuance of a Dismissal Notice, the student's participation in the study abroad program shall be concluded immediately. Dismissal of a student from the program shall not diminish or otherwise affect the student's obligation to make any and all payments to ISU. A student who is dismissed from a study abroad program may receive a grade of "F" in all course work in progress. In addition, the student will not be entitled to a refund of fees, may be required to reimburse ISU for financial aid received, and is responsible for all non-recoverable costs incurred by the host institution as well as personal financial obligations, e.g., utility bills, rent. A student's registration at ISU may be blocked pending the meeting of all such financial obligations and/or disciplinary action. Once a student has been dismissed from the program, he/she shall be required to absent him/herself from all premises used by the program for the duration of the program and return to the United States at his or her own expense.


Iowa State University considers sexual harassment and sexual assault to be an issue of safety. Your safety is vital to having a positive, successful study abroad experience. Therefore, we share the following to inform and invite you to critically consider how you can reduce your risk of harassment or assault.

Be aware of stereotypes host nationals may have about North American women and men

Stereotypes are very much a part of daily life. People make assumptions about others based on cues, rather than based on their experiences with that individual. People in other countries have often heard stereotypes of American college students, and/or seen stereotypical behavior portrayed in film. It is important to both think about how you may stereotype others, but also, how you may be stereotyped too. Common stereotypes of Americans may include speaking loudly, traveling in large groups, and being sexual active. This last stereotype could lead to experiencing harassment while abroad. Just as students need to be aware of sexual assault in the United States, it is also important to remain vigilant while studying abroad. Here are a few situations to be mindful of and to watch out for while abroad:

  • Catcalls – being called after using words or a whistle typically while passing by another person
    • Recommendation: Avoid making eye contact or engaging with this person at all. Any engagement may be taken as a sign of interest, whether or not that is your intention.
  • Physical groping – being inappropriately touched. Occurs most often in crowded areas such as on public transportation, at concerts, or in a bar.
    • Recommendation: Stick with a friend and try to avoid being isolated. Ask them to stop and then report to authority. If the person does not stop, leave the space with a friend as soon as safely possible.
  • Being offered a ride by a friend of a friend or a relative of your host family
    • Recommendation: Decline the offer. Avoid putting yourself in a position where you have no control and are alone with a stranger. There have been students who were in this situation and accepted the ride and were later sexually assaulted.
  • Returning to your room with someone you just met or going to the room of someone you just met
    • Recommendation: In some countries, going home with someone is seen as a form of consent. We know in the US consent must be verbal, but other countries do not have the same understanding of consent. Avoid putting yourself in a position where you have no control and are alone with a stranger. There have been students who were in this situation and were later sexually assaulted.
  • Being offered a free drink for a stranger or bartender or having an unattended drink
    • Recommendation: Do not accept a drink from a stranger as there is the possibility of the drink having a date rape drug. Also, when you order a drink, watch the bartender to make sure the drink is not tampered with. The same goes for an unattended drink. If you leave your drink unattended for any period of time, do not continue to drink it as someone could have tampered with it. If you suspect you have ingested a date rape drug, it is best to leave with a trusted friend and seek medical attention.

As you can see from most of these scenarios, it is good to have a trusted friend around. You can help each other make good decisions, and also make sure each other gets home safely at the end of a night out. Most importantly, remember that sexual assault is never the victim’s fault!

Talk to us

We cannot stress enough how important it is to report these behaviors to a program director or study abroad officials so that we can take appropriate measures to reduce the risk of something happening to other participants. Feelings of guilt after more serious events are common, but please let us know so we can help you get the support you need and deserve. Know before you go (and ask again when you arrive): Gender roles and stereotypes? Harassment issues? Places that are unsafe? Prevalence of date rape drugs? STDs, HIV, contraception: things I should know about my site?

Resources for dealing with sexual harassment are found on the ISU website at