1. K-State home
  2. »OIP
  3. »Education Abroad
  4. »Parents
  5. »While Abroad
  6. »Health and Safety

Education Abroad

Health and Safety

Physical & Emotional Health

Any conditions or health issues students have at home go abroad with them. Sometimes conditions are exacerbated by the additional stress of living in an unfamiliar place and culture. Please discuss health issues with your son or daughter.

Most study abroad sites K-State students choose have excellent health systems, but keep in mind that health care is different in different cultures. For example, they might have the same medications we have, but they could come in different dosages. If your son or daughter has any health issues, please check on how to deal with them while your student is abroad.

Your son or daughter may get sick during the time abroad. Exposure to unfamiliar germs can often cause illness. Changes in climate, water and diet also affect one’s health.

Students also need to think about their mental and emotional health while abroad. The host institution’s coordinator can help find solutions to problems and students should contact them if they need assistance. Also, the K-State Counseling Center will accept phone calls and emails.

Family health issues can also cause distress to students abroad. If a member of the family has a problem, it is not always best to hide it from your son or daughter just because they are away. Give them the same consideration you would if they were home.

Sexual Health

Issues of sexuality can be complex in our own cultural environment, and even more so in one with which your child is less familiar. While living in another culture, it is more challenging to evaluate situations and to assess risks for emotional distress, disease, and assault as a result of intentional or non-intentional sexual contact.

Sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent everywhere in the world, and the HIV virus can lead to death. We strongly recommend that students educate themselves on safe sex practices, pack condoms from the U.S. and be cautious about their sexual activity while abroad. For further information regarding HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, please consult the LaFene Health Center at K-State.

Learning about a host country’s culture with regard to acceptable and safe sexual behavior is essential. It is also very important that participants understand the local norms and cultural patterns of relationships. What are the local dating patterns? Is it the custom for females to have male friends (or vice versa) or is that considered unusual? If you accept a drink or some other “gift”, are you tacitly consenting to sexual activity? If you invite someone into your living space, is it culturally and/or legally acceptable for him/her to expect intimate contact? Is the legal and/or cultural definition of “consent” different from the definition in the United States?

At a minimum, your student must be aware that some behaviors at home that may be culturally and legally acceptable, and seemingly safe, may not be culturally or legally acceptable or safe in your host country – and vice versa. Certain behaviors will also communicate different messages in a host culture than they do in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization

The CDC and WHO provide information for travelers online.

CDC Traveler’s Health:

WHO International Travel and Health:


Safety While Abroad

You will have to learn some new “street smarts” that are suitable to your new location. We suggest that your child spends the first couple of days on site engaged in your own orientation to the city. Learn which neighborhoods or districts should be avoided, and when you should avoid them. Learn the transport system. Learn how to ask for and understand directions. Learn how to blend in—how to dress, act, and walk, and how to handle looks or approaches by strangers. Watch, ask, and imitate the locals.

Safety Tips

As an American (and even if you carry a non-U.S. passport you might be taken for an American), your child will find that they may become an easy target for theft or assault. Learn how the locals keep from getting ripped off. Here are some general tips:

  • Act like you know where you are going and what you are doing
  • Don’t dangle purses or cameras from your wrist
  • Don't carry large backpacks and big purses, which tend to stand out as targets
  • Don’t carry wallets in a back pocket
  • Don’t carry large amounts of cash
  • Don’t carry your passport UNLESS you absolutely need it; a photocopy will do just fine for everyday use
  • Don’t walk or ride the bus alone at night; spend the money on a taxi
  • Don’t stay in questionable lodging just because it's cheap; the few dollars saved won’t cover the replacement costs of a stolen rail ticket, passport, or camera
  • Don’t hitchhike; this is not just smart sense, but K-State policy!
  • Don’t stay out late at night, when assaults and robberies most often occur; thieves like the dark and like drunks
  • Don’t travel alone
  • Stay informed about what’s going on in your host city and country and in the world. U.S. foreign policy does affect how people overseas will treat you. If the United States decides to launch a military or economic action, you will immediately become a representative of your country--whether you want to or not. If your travel destination is having political or military difficulties--ranging from demonstrations to terrorist attacks to civil war--don’t go to see it!