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Health and Safety

Health and Safety Information

The Office of Overseas Studies in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California urges students and parents to stay informed of conditions that may affect the health and safety of USC students abroad.  Traveling and living in a foreign country always have their elements of risk.  In study abroad as in other settings, students’ own decisions and behaviors can have a major impact on their own health and safety.  There are many resources available to help students and parents better understand risks associated with traveling and living in foreign countries as well as precautions that can be taken.  To aid students and parents in their consideration of potential health and safety risks, we have put together some information and provided links to readily accessible web sites that address issues of health and safety while abroad.


The most frequent health issues faced by students abroad are those that affect travelers in general and include gastrointestinal troubles, colds and flu.  The stress of adjusting to a new culture and new physical environmental can contribute to health problems.  Minor, moderate, and serious (physical and mental) health issues can and do arise.  Sometimes these issues are not new to the student but are exacerbated when the student tackles the challenges of living in a different culture far from his or her normal routine and support system.  Some health issues are new to the student or unique to the host country or region.  Students receive more detailed information on health in the Study Abroad Handbook that they receive prior to studying abroad.  The Student Health Center has an International Travel Clinic where students can seek advice on health issues involved with living in another country.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites have information on health risks and considerations for most countries and regions around the world.
USC Student Health Center’s International Travel Clinic:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

World Health Organization:

The CDC occasionally issues travel alerts for specific countries or regions.  When the CDC issues a travel alert for a country or region where USC students study abroad, University officials meet to determine what steps to take to maximize student health.

Health Insurance and International SOS

All USC students are required to have sufficient health and accident insurance protection during their study abroad program.  Study abroad students are not allowed to waive out of USC-provided insurance.  In order to ensure proper coverage, all students going abroad must enroll in either the USC Overseas Policy or the USC Student Health Insurance Plan for the semester (or year) during which they are abroad. 
There is no deductible.  However, these insurance policies work on a reimbursement system, which means you will generally be expected to pay for your medical care and prescriptions out of pocket and then file a claim for reimbursement.  When you submit a claim, you need to attach all of your receipts for payment.  If your receipts are not in US dollars, you must also submit exchange rate information.
If you do not have enough money to pay for service out of pocket, you can call International SOS to request guarantee of payment to the health service provider. 
Both types of USC health insurance include International SOS coverage.  International SOS is a company that is on call to provide worldwide assistance 24 hours a day.  International SOS coverage includes referrals to physicians, dentists, psychologists, clinics, and hospitals; medical evacuation; repatriation; and a range of other services.  Students receive an International SOS card prior to studying overseas.

USC Student Health Center – Health Insurance Plan Descriptions:

International SOS:


Students are encouraged to carefully consider the safety risks and relevant precautions involved in traveling and living in a foreign country.  Issues of safety are covered in the Study Abroad Handbook that study abroad students receive prior to studying abroad and are covered in the mandatory pre-departure orientation.  When students arrive at their study abroad sites, they usually receive more specific information on safety issues. 
Students should carefully read the Study Abroad Handbook and consider all materials issued by the program sponsor that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in their host country.
The U.S. Department of State offers valuable information for students who are planning to travel or study abroad.  Students should read the State Department’s Country Information Sheet for the country in which they plan to study or visit, and check any Public Announcements or Travel Warnings that may pertain to that particular country.  Country Information Sheets provide an overview of conditions pertaining to travel in each country.  Students are strongly advised to register with the US embassy in their host country.  Students can do this via the embassy’s website.  Students who are not US citizens should register themselves with their country’s embassy in the host country.

Students are advised to consult the website of the U.S. Department of State at and

There students can find the following:

Country Information Sheets
Tips for American Students Abroad
U.S. Embassies around the World
Travel Warnings
Registration with Embassies

University Response

When there is a known significant increase in the level of potential danger to USC students in a city or region where they study abroad, University officials meet to determine what steps to take to maximize student safety.  U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, the travel advice of other governments, news sources, the resident directors and international student offices at the study abroad sites, and other information sources are all instrumental in informing University decisions. 

A Travel Warnings issued by the United States Department of State is currently in effect for Israel.