University of Chicago students explore the world with purpose and intellectual focus through our faculty-taught international programs and summer individual travel grants. While the spirit of inquiry that characterizes these journeys brings tremendous engagement and growth, the team which supports students overseas knows that travelers must also be mindful of the practical aspects of venturing from the familiar.
UChicago Study Abroad is constantly working to address the safety and security of students who participate in our programs, given the volatility of the international scene. Our staff consults regularly with our associates around the globe who manage our programs; with our faculty, who have strong regional knowledge as well as precise, city-based expertise; and with contacts in the US Department of State and other governmental and non-governmental agencies.
In addition to providing thorough information on health, safety, and student conduct in our program materials and pre-departure sessions for each group, we maintain a 24-hour emergency phone number for students and parents. Our staff keeps in close communication with our partners on the ground so that we can respond quickly to issues as they may arise.
Study Abroad staff members monitor announcements from the US Department of State and other sources daily. These include the State Department’s daily global security briefing and instant notification of all Travel Warnings and Alerts. Should we foresee any changes to a program based on these announcements, students are contacted immediately. We post alerts on our webpage to keep our broader community informed as well.
Safety and health are, of course, linked. We ask that students complete a health questionnaire so that we can best address individual needs and connect students with resources on site and here on campus. We ask students to be mindful of the stresses that come with immersion in a new culture and encourage them to share their experiences with friends and family. Finally, we remind students that while traveling they are ambassadors of the University of Chicago. They are given the responsibility of representing their university to those they meet; students are not only held to the standards of their University, but must also abide by the laws of the country in which they are visitors.
Thousands of bright and questing students have passed through our doors and embarked on journeys to all corners of the globe, returning safely to Chicago from their experiences abroad. No amount of preparation guarantees any individual’s health and safety, but taking proper precautions has allowed us to address any number of challenges as they arise. In evaluating the current international climate, we ask that parents and students have open conversations about the complexities of international travel. While overseas, students should remain vigilant, keeping their health and safety a top priority, as it is ours. As always, open communication with the program staff on site as well as with study abroad staff in Chicago is a best practice.
We welcome any questions related to program safety and other concerns, as well as the joyful accounts we receive during and after cross-cultural encounter.
Associate Dean for International Education