Health and Safety

Four students look down on a snowy town below

Students' safety and security are the highest priority for Clemson University. The Office of Global Engagement has policies and procedures in place to help protect the safety and well-being of study abroad participants. Traveling abroad requires many of the same precautions that one would take in the U.S., although depending on your destination, you may need to be aware of other potential health and safety risks. While we can never eliminate all potential risks while abroad, there are many things that can be done to prepare for a study abroad experience and minimize potential risks.

We have put together various preparation resources related to health and safety to help students and faculty organize, plan, lead or participate in an overseas program. In addition to the information provided on this page, all study abroad students must attend a Pre-Departure Orientation session in which health and safety issues are covered in detail. Visit our calendar page to see upcoming Pre-Departure Orientation sessions. Please refer to the Pre-Departure Orientation Handbook for additional health and safety information.

In an Emergency

In the event of an emergency overseas, study abroad participants should first contact the appropriate local authorities as well as their on-site emergency contact. Each program has an on-site person whom you can contact for any emergency situation. This may be a program director or someone in the international office at your host university. Make sure that you know who your on-site emergency contact is as soon as you arrive in your host country.

In the case of a serious emergency abroad, contact the Clemson University Police Department at 864-656-2222. They have a representative available 24 hours a day to respond to student emergencies.

Remember that "911" is not the universal emergency number; make sure that you know the emergency numbers for your host country.

Study Abroad Insurance

All students participating in a study abroad program or other university-affiliated international travel (student organizations, international co-op or internship, dissertation research, university-funded travel, etc.) are required to use international insurance per the directions below.

Faculty-Directed Programs
Students participating in faculty-directed programs pay for Clemson University’s international insurance coverage as part of their program fees, and it is purchased on their behalf. These students do not need to independently purchase Clemson’s international insurance.

Other Programs and University-Affiliated Travel
Students participating in exchange programs, direct-enrollment programs, some third party programs, and other university-affiliated travel are required to use Clemson University’s international insurance coverage through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). This insurance policy covers basic medical expenses, medical evacuation, medical reunion, repatriation, and a security evacuation rider. Students can enroll for up to 1 additional month of coverage if planning to extend time abroad. The enrollment must be completed prior to departure and proof of insurance submitted via the Clemson Abroad online application system.

Approved Third Party Program Coverage
Students participating on approved third-party provider programs may waive purchase of the Clemson CISI insurance, if desired. Students must submit proof of third party insurance coverage as part of their online application. Approved third party programs are: AIFS, API, Arcadia, CAPA, CEA, CIEE, CIMBA, CIS, Global Semesters, IES, ISA/ELAP, SAI, Semester at Sea, TEAN, and USAC.

Clemson University Student Health Plan
If a student already uses Clemson’s Student Health Plan as their primary coverage, please contact

For more information about Clemson’s international insurance policy, please visit the Insurance page.

International Health and Immunizations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recognized as the lead federal agency for promoting, preventing, and controlling disease, injury and disability. The CDC's website has a Travelers' Health section that you should consult prior to departure. This site will also help you determine, with your doctor's guidance, the immunizations required and suggested for the area(s) where you plan to travel. Because some inoculations require a series of medical visits over the course of several months, prior to entering your host country, you should begin to investigate whether or not you need immunizations.

For more information regarding immunizations, contact Redfern Health Center at 864-656-1541 or Joseph F. Sullivan Center at 864-656-3076. Appointments at Redfern Health Center can be made online at

Registering your trip

Americans living abroad can register with their nearest embassy or consulate through the U.S. Department of State's website. By doing so, you will receive updated information on travel and security within the country to which you are heading. You also make it easier for the U.S. Embassy (and your family) to locate you in case of an emergency or disaster.

Learn about your host culture

The more that you learn about your host country before studying abroad, the better prepared you will be in day-to-day interactions and in the event of an emergency overseas. Make sure to take some time to research the culture and customs of your host country. Some important questions to consider:

  • What is the weather like in your host country?
  • How do men and women typically dress?
  • How does the host country view Americans?
  • Is the water safe to drink?
  • Are there any safety concerns?

It is normal to experience some form of culture shock while abroad. Culture shock, or the cultural adaptation process, is the challenge of adapting to a new environment, new social, economic and educational systems, as well as unfamiliar foods, climate, and language. While culture shock can be frustrating and challenging, it ultimately builds problem solving skills, better communication skills, flexibility, and initiative.

Culture shock has four basic stages: the Honeymoon Stage, the Frustration Stage, the Understanding Stage, and the Acclimation Stage. Once you are aware of these stages, you will be better prepared to deal with them during a study abroad program. The key to coping with culture shock for students and parents is patience. Do not be alarmed if in the first few days of your program, you are overwhelmed with the unfamiliar environment and feel worried or regretful. Parents should try to be supportive and assure students that what they are experiencing is normal and temporary. Remember your long-term goals for your experience!

Many students also encounter "reverse culture shock" upon returning from their overseas experience. This comes as they adapt to jet lag, climate, food, and social differences. As with culture shock, this process is temporary, and patience is crucial. One of the best ways for students to overcome reverse culture shock is to get involved with international activities on campus. Please visit our Returning Students page for some of these opportunities.

Health and Safety Resources

The following online resources related to health and safety will be useful as you organize, plan, lead or participate in an overseas program. Please click on the titles to visit the respective websites.

Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT)
Provides road travel safety information, including country specific road travel reports and a Road Safety Toolbox for the study abroad community.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Travelers' Health
Includes vaccination recommendations and information on the latest outbreaks of diseases around the world. Also provides health information on specific destinations.

Center for Global Education
Features a Study Abroad Safety Handbook as well as a wealth of information on other subjects, including PLATO: Project for Learning Abroad, Training and Outreach.

Interassociational Advisory Committee on Safety and Responsibility in Study Abroad
Provides recommendations for programs, including a requirement that participants have medical insurance and that programs provide orientations for participants both before and after they arrive at their study abroad destination.

iPhone App Smart Traveler
The iPhone App Smart Traveler, released by the U.S. Department of State, is a tool designed to provide easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, and U.S. embassy locations. Drawing on content posted to, this free app allows users to see travel warnings and alerts issued by the State Department, gather background information about different countries, and find U.S. embassies and consulates overseas.

Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
This Federal Advisory Committee promotes cooperation in the area of security between U.S. business and private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State as well as other U.S. government agencies.  Provides region and country specific news and reports, and a resource library on various topics.

U.S. Department of State - Students Abroad
Students and their families should be aware that the U.S. Department of State maintains a website for U.S. citizen students who are, or will be, studying abroad. This is a one-stop reference for Country Specific Information, tips for safe travel, and other important information about studying, traveling, and living overseas. Students and parents may download flyers and tip cards.

U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets
Lists travel warnings for Americans in light of political unrest or health issues in individual countries as well as announcements for particular regions. In addition, please visit the Nations Online site which pulls together global travel warning information from 10 different national governments plus the World Health Organization.