Stay Safe Abroad

Prescription Medication

Before you go be sure to get enough prescription drugs for your entire stay and an extra supply just in case (if appropriate) or have an understanding on how to obtain your medication abroad. Bring the prescription notes from your doctor with you to show as proof that you are allowed to have the prescribed medication if you get questioned. All prescriptions medications must be in their original containers and labeled clearly in your name to avoid any problems with local authorities.

US prescriptions justify you having the medications; however, they are not valid in pharmacies overseas. For refills of prescription drugs, you will need to visit a local doctor who will most likely be able to write you a prescription.


Important Note: Certain prescription drugs (such as Adderall, commonly used for ADD or ADHD) that are legal in the US are illegal in various countries. Please be aware of any applicable restrictions and check the US Consulate/Embassy website for further details:

It is the student’s responsibility to understand whether or not a specific medication is legal in the countries he or she plans on visiting. If you take medication, visit your prescribing physician NOW and have a plan.


Vaccinations & Examinations

It is a good idea to have a medical and dental checkup before you leave your home country. If you have any special health problems or history, it is REQUIRED that you bring copies of any important health records and a doctor’s statement regarding your condition.

For recommended vaccinations for your program location, please see for the Center for Disease Control’s current recommendations on immunizations. At this website, you will also find tips about preparing for international trips as well as staying healthy once you are abroad.



Check Your Medications Before You Go

Be sure to do your research and see if  your prescription drugs are legal in the countries you are visiting before you go.

Certain medications that are legal in the U.S. could be illegal in other countries (i.e. Adderall). Check the local embassy website make sure your medication is legal to have in the country. 

Emergency Information

While you are overseas, you will be given an emergency contact number for an on-call staff member at the host university. When an emergency occurs it is usually best to contact the on-site staff in your host country first, since they are in the same city and will likely be able to help and offer you more immediate assistance. General emergency contact information may be available in the program specific sections of this guide, and are shared with students approximately one week prior to program departure.

In the event of an emergency, you should take the following steps:

  1. Seek medical treatment or assistance from local authorities (if applicable).
  2. Contact the emergency on-call staff member overseas for assistance.
  3. If, after contacting the staff overseas, you need the assistance of Athena representatives, please feel free to use the Athena emergency number. Please only use in the event of an emergency.


If you have any questions of require non-emergency assistance during the semester, please feel free to use our normal business number 1-866-922-7623 or e-mail us at

Read more on Athena’s Safety Advice for Students


Note on the use of the Emergency Contact Information
The above emergency contact information is reserved for the use of students traveling abroad only. In the case of an emergency, Athena’s first priority is the health and safety of our students. As such we request that the contact information above is not used by family members in the U.S. to allow for an open line of communication for the students and Athena staff. Family members are welcome to contact Athena at 866.922.7623 or

Health Insurance

Primary Health Insurance

All students participating in Athena Study Abroad programs must maintain primary health insurance coverage in the United States for the duration of their study abroad program.

Supplemental International Health Insurance

As a participant in an Athena study abroad program, you will be automatically enrolled in our supplemental health insurance program. This comprehensive medical insurance plan covers a maximum of $100,000 for any illness or accident abroad and does not carry a deductible for injuries or sickness. Coverage includes most medical expenses, emergency evacuation and a full range of 24-hour medical assistance.

Coverage Summary (Detailed information available in your online account)

  • Medical – Full (including doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, mental health) – Only covers accidents & illness – no preventative services
  • Medical Evacuation
  • Political Evacuation
  • Natural Disaster Evacuation

Please note that Preventative Services or Basic Travel Insurance is NOT included. Basic or Comprehensive Travel Insurance is available through STA Travel (i.e. delayed flights, lost luggage, lost/stolen passport recovery, etc).

Prior to your departure you will receive a description of benefits & covered medical expenses and an insurance card. Please carry this insurance card with you at all times while you are overseas.

All of our overseas partners are well prepared to handle any type of emergency should it arise, so please do not hesitate to notify the onsite faculty of any medical concerns.

Travel, Trip, & Rental Insurance

We strongly recommend that all students traveling abroad explore travel, trip interruption, and rental insurance.

Just as when living at school or living away from home, it is good to look into protecting yourself and your belongings. Please also refer to the program specific sections, as some programs may include content insurance as part of the program package.

Safety Tips

All of our programs are in safe places, however it is important that you use common sense and take precautions while abroad. When in larger cities, students are encouraged to be alert and carry money & passports beneath their clothing. As is true in any city, caution is necessary for all travelers, and it always pays to be alert.

Be sure to learn about the customs and local laws of the country where you are going. Remember that you are subject to their laws and are not protected by U.S. laws. In general, keep a low profile. In many countries U.S. citizens are not always viewed in a positive light. Once you have some time to adjust to your new location, you will have a better sense of how you wish to act in your new surroundings.

Practical Safety Tips & Tricks

  • Always carry a copy of your passport with you.
    Carrying a personal document is mandatory by law, but it is always safer when you are coming to class, or just taking a walk, to carry a copy rather than the original.
    *Note that if you will be traveling, or going to the bank to cash traveler’s checks, you’ll need your original passport.
    For a lost or stolen passport, contact your on-site advisor at once as well as the U.S. Consulate serving your location.


  • Listen to Onsite Advisors.
    Don’t forget to heed the advice of our local on-site staff regarding dangers specific to the city and region where you’ll be studying. They know from experience and can inform you of what you need to watch for specifically.



  • Register with the US Embassy at
    • The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
    • Athena HIGHLY recommends registering with this free program in order to aid in safety checks, should an unforeseen safety concern happen in the area you are studying.


  • Tell a friend.
    When going out alone, inform someone of your whereabouts.


  • Blend In.
    Avoid standing out or drawing attention to yourself; try to blend in with your surroundings.


  • Know the Laws.
    Know the local laws, as you are subject to them while traveling abroad.


  • Do not show a reaction to whistles or cat-calls.
    Try not to overreact to whistles, stares, or cat-calls. They may be compliments rather than harassment. This type of behavior is much more common in some countries than it is in the US, and it is also perceived in a much different way. Try not to feel threatened by it, but instead, be reminded to conduct yourself appropriately.


  • Beware of pick-pockets.
    They are often women and children, and have mastered the art of pick-pocketing, and feed on easily accessible purses or wallets in large crowds and packed buses. They are easy to recognize, and concentrate near the main tourist attractions and museums; most of the children carry newspapers or pieces of cardboard to distract their targets.


    Especially if you have had too much to drink – it is unsafe and inappropriate. Call a taxi or walk with someone.


  • Be smart about drinking
    Although the restrictions around drinking may be different in your host country than in the US, this does not mean that you can drink on the street any time, day or night. The police can and will stop you and ask for documents. Remember, if you are in an inebriated state, you are at a greater risk of being physically or verbally attacked.


Read more on Athena’s Safety and Emergency protocols



Bags & Purses

While traveling, especially in larger cities, it is important to keep an eye on your belongings. Here are some tips for carrying items around:

  • Cross body bags are great!
    Not as easy to get your bag off you if it’s around your body.
  • Money belts.
    They may not be cool but they do work!
  • Keep bags shut.
    Don’t advertise what you have. Be discreet in opening/closing your bag and always keep it shut when you’re not using it.
  • Keep it in front of you.
    While walking be sure to keep your bag in front of your body so you can see it.
  • Straps under chairs.
    If you’re at a restaurant or café, secure your bag strap around the leg of your chair.

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