Travel Handbook

We require all students traveling internationally to be adequately covered by our prearranged comprehensive international student health insurance plan through GeoBlue. Once you have confirmed your place in the program, we will automatically enroll you in the required international health insurance on your behalf. The mandatory insurance is included in your program cost and cannot be waived.

Should you require medical treatment abroad, you will pay for services when they are rendered and then file for reimbursement from the insurance carrier. Be sure to keep any receipts given to you by physicians and/or pharmacists.

The insurance plan is intended to cover all participants while abroad, but certain limits apply. The plan is not intended to replace your existing health insurance plan.

Learn more about the plan

If you will be taking any prescription drugs while abroad, we strongly advise you to consult with your physician prior to departure regarding any need for monitoring or information you should share with the trip leader/field assistant.

You should bring enough medication to last the duration of your stay, plus two days extra in case your travel is delayed. Always carry prescription drugs in a drug store bottle with a label showing your name, the generic name, the dosage of the drug and instructions for use.

We strongly encourage you to schedule a medical exam with your health care provider before departure. We also recommend a dental checkup.

In most circumstances, at least a few meals will be provided during your trip.

Please describe any dietary restrictions in your Participation Agreement form and the Passenger Information Form issued by the travel agent. If you have an allergy we should know about, please also disclose this on the aforementioned forms.

If you are ever unsure if your health concerns have been properly communicated, email the student services program coordinator to confirm.

You will likely experience some form of culture shock during your time abroad, but this should not be confused with a real emotional crisis. If you feel withdrawn or detached and cannot cope with your environment, ask your trip leader for guidance. If your problem involves an eating disorder, share your burden with someone before you become seriously weakened.

Any medication you take for a mental health condition should be continued during your time abroad. An interruption in medication can result in serious consequences.

The Media School will notify you if vaccinations are required for your trip and will advise you of current Centers for Disease Control guidelines regarding travel to your destination.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to consult with your health care provider or the IU Health Center’s Travel Clinic to determine your individual needs. The cost of vaccinations is typically not included in the program fee.

Upon acceptance into the program, you will be required to provide emergency contact information as part of your Participation Agreement form, provide your cell phone number and join any electronic group communication apps used by your program, such as GroupMe or WhatsApp.

Before you depart, the student services program coordinator will provide you with emergency contact numbers and hotel details that you can share with family and friends. We encourage you to communicate directly with your friends and family to let them know you have arrived, and to direct them to the Field Notes blog so they can follow along with your travels.

The Media School will enroll you in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which provides emergency communications and support to U.S. cititzens traveling abroad.

This registration will occur one or two weeks before you depart, after which you may begin receiving emails from the State Department.

Visit the State Department’s website for up-to-date safety information about the country you will be visiting. As a policy, IU does not send students to any countries deemed unsafe by the State Department.

If you feel you may be the victim of sexual harassment, consult your trip leader immediately. He or she can help you sort out the difference between unacceptable harassment and culturally acceptable behavior that is nonetheless uncomfortable for you.

In the case of sexual harassment, you may need to file a report at the local police station with the assistance of the trip leader.

You may want to consider purchasing supplemental insurance to reimburse you for theft or loss of personal items (personal property insurance), especially if you will be traveling with audiovisual equipment. It is possible that you are already covered for these expenses by your renter’s insurance plan or your parents' homeowner's insurance plan.

Plans specifically designed for overseas travelers are available through some frequent flyer programs, travel agencies and credit card companies. It is your responsibility to research your options and make the decision that makes the most sense for you.

Safety tips

  • Always carry with you — even when jogging or exercising — some form of personal identification (driver's license or student ID card) and local contact information (address/phone of hotel or on-site program staff).
  • Always travel with a companion, and never walk alone at night, even if you are familiar with the area. Stay alert, confident and aware of your surroundings. Walk purposefully, and trust your instincts.
  • Use helmets, seat belts, life jackets, and other relevant safety devices.
  • Always keep your door locked in any facility where you are staying.
  • You are prohibited from renting or buying a motorized vehicle, including a motorcycle or moped.
  • Do not swim after drinking alcohol.
  • Pack a basic first aid kit. Your trip leader or field assistant will also have one.
  • Leave jewelry and expensive watches at home.
  • Keep money, tickets and passport in secure places, and do not leave them in any unattended bags. 
  • Carry photocopies of passport, credit cards and airline tickets, and leave copies with someone at home.
  • Make sure your luggage has identification both inside and out.
  • Keep luggage locked and securely stored.
  • Be mindful when withdrawing money from an ATM when you are alone.
  • Keep a low profile in public areas. Avoid displaying any object of value (jewelry, cameras, cell phones, electronic devices) that could attract the attention of bag snatchers and pickpockets.
  • Do not hang your purse around the back of your chair. Be mindful when carrying a backpack on your back in crowded areas.


Contact Eliza Erxleben, director of student services.