Northwestern University takes all reasonable steps to help students be safe during their study abroad program. In collaboration with the Office of Global Safety and Security, staff members from the Global Learning Office and Global Engagement Studies Institute monitor locations where Northwestern programs occur. The University Study Abroad Committee (USAC) also undertakes regular reviews of all study abroad programs in which safety, security and overall quality are measured.
Learn more about Northwestern’s approach to international risk management and how the university utilizes security information resources to monitor world events that may impact travel. The International Travel Policy governs undergraduate access to locations with U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories Level 3 and 4.
Students studying abroad, like yourself, are expected to review the health and safety information provided by Northwestern and your program provider or faculty director. You must take responsibility for heeding the advice provided by local staff about how to stay safe abroad, particularly when on your own.
Student Safety Precautions
One of the best approaches to staying safety while traveling is to be informed. Review information about crime deterrence, road/water/fire safety and the impact of drug or alcohol use abroad on the travel safety page. We also encourage you to explore resources related to one’s identity and diversity during travel.
Prepare for the unexpected by review information about emergencies abroad.
Scenario I: Need for Medical Care
Non-Emergency: If you are not feeling well or are experiencing emotional distress and it is not an emergency, contact your on-site administrator or GLO, and they will help you get the care that you need. If you need medical care, it is best to report this to your on-site staff or GLO as soon as possible so that they can assist in the arrangement of quality care.
If you would prefer to arrange your own care, you can schedule an appointment with an GeoBlue-affiliated medical practitioner in one of the following ways:
- Contact GeoBlue to request an appointment: +1.610.254.8771 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Or, log on to the GeoBlue website (https://www.geo-blue.com/) and search under “find doctors and hospitals” to make an appointment. For specialty care, click on the “destinations dashboard” to view a more complete list of providers in your location abroad. Once you have scheduled your appointment, then email the Global Health Team at GeoBlue (email@example.com) with as much notice as possible to arrange direct billing. Be sure to provide them with your full name, your GeoBlue certificate number, and your date of birth, as well as the details of your appointment (doctor's name, date/time of appointment).
Emergency: In case of emergency, go immediately to the nearest hospital, preferably a private hospital (refer to your emergency contact sheet). Have your on-site administrator or a friend contact GeoBlue emergency assistance line at +1-610-254-8771 as soon as possible and before you complete the intake process.
Scenario II: Crime Committed Against a Student
If you are the victim of a crime, contact your on-site administrator, and they will notify you of the proper procedure for reporting the crime and if applicable, the steps for replacing stolen items. If your passport is lost or stolen, you will need to contact local police and the U.S. Embassy. Refer to the OGSS website for more information about what to do if you are a victim of crime abroad.
Scenario III: Hostility Toward United States Citizens & Terrorist Acts
We monitor the U.S. Department of State and other resources for announcements regarding the safety of our students abroad. In case of emergency, we will liaise with the U.S. Department of State, our security information and evacuation provider, and other sources to analyze the severity of the situation. We will keep you informed of any relevant warnings and update you about any potential risks or areas to avoid. If necessary, we will make arrangements to evacuate students to a secure location away from the area of concern. Refer to additional guidance on the OGSS website.
Scenario IV: Public Demonstration, Riot, Strike, or Civil Unrest
Protests and demonstrations do take place. Students are not permitted to participate in—or attend—any kind of public demonstration. In the event of unrest, students should return to (or remain at) the university or their accommodations and stay there until the situation stabilizes.
Scenario V: Fire or Natural Disaster
In the event of a fire, natural disaster, or other weather-related emergency, on-site administrators will notify you about emergency procedures, and, if necessary, evacuate you to a safe facility.
Scenario VI: Arrest or Detention Abroad
You must obey all of the laws of your program location and any other country that you may visit during your program. If you get into trouble, contact your on-site administrators, GLO, or the NUPD at 847-491-3456. Also be sure to notify a consular officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, but understand that the U.S. consulate cannot get you out of jail, represent you at trial, give you legal counsel, or pay fees or fines with U.S. government funds. For more information, including a list of services that the U.S. consulate can – and cannot – provide, visit the OGSS website.
Scenario VII: Sexual Misconduct
Northwestern’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct extends to students while they are abroad, and Northwestern prioritizes creating a safe and healing environment for students. If you experience any type of sexual misconduct abroad, please know that you have options, you have rights, and support is available to you. If you are a survivor of sexual misconduct that occurred abroad, what happened to you was not your fault, and you have various options and resources available to you regarding how you respond and begin the healing process. For more information, options, and resources, contact the Center for Awareness, Response, and Education (CARE) or visit the OGSS website.