Studying abroad is a wonderful, educational, and life-changing experience. In order for students to make the most of their time abroad, it is important that safety is the main priority for both the students as well as us at Athena. Being educated about what they will encounter in the destination country increases the students' chances of having a pleasant, hassle-free experience abroad!
Athena Study Abroad has partnered with HTH Worldwide, a global leader in international health insurance. All Athena program participants receive supplemental international health insurance coverage through HTH as part of their Athena program package.
More information on Athena's HTH insurance coverage
It is also important that students maintain any US-based health insurance they have in order to avoid any break in coverage or issues regarding pre-existing conditions.
Athena regards its students' safety with the utmost importance. In doing so, we consider and regularly monitor several world-safety resources when initially selecting a program site and the program's continuation henceforth.
Athena is a member of the United States Department of State's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), from which we receive daily reports on incidents abroad as well as community-based security council meetings. Athena also regularly monitors the U.S. State Department travel advisories, daily reports from our international health insurance partner, HTH Worldwide, and NAFSA's health and safety communiqués. On a local level, Athena communicates daily with our overseas partners and staff.
While Athena has precautions in place to ensure the utmost safety of our students abroad, sometimes situations arise beyond our control that necessitate immediate action for students' safety. For this reason, Athena has developed an emergency protocol that our headquarters and on-site partners and staff follow in the event of an emergency. These emergencies may include, but are not limited to natural disasters, civil disturbances or pandemics.
Should such a major incident occur that could affect our students security, Athena's U.S. headquarters are in immediate contact with our overseas partners and staff so that we may appropriately and effectively proceed in notifying all involved parties and vice versa. First, Athena contacts each affected participant directly, and then uses social media channels to communicate widely the necessary precautions to take, or if extreme, exact evacuation procedures.
Any decision to evacuate Athena students from a program site is based largely on reports from OSAC, warnings from the U.S. State Department, local government and law enforcement agencies, and on-site staff.
Athena students are provided with a dedicated Athena emergency telephone number before they leave the U.S. Athena staff monitor this emergency line 24/7. Upon arrival, students are also provided a local 24/7 emergency contact number for an on-call staff member at the host university.
In the event of an emergency, students should take the following steps:
Note: While U.S. Athena representatives will always be available to assist our students, it is recommended that students contact the on-site emergency number before contacting Athena, as overseas staff are able to be of more immediate assistance in urgent situations.
In the event a program is cancelled for safety and student security reasons, Athena will work with the affected students to help them transfer to another Athena program.
The U.S. Department of State provides the following advice regarding prescriptions and medicine overseas:
"A traveler going abroad with a preexisting medical problem should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic names of prescribed drugs. Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Travelers should check with the foreign embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics."
"If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, or insect bites, or other unique medical problems, consider wearing a “medical alert” bracelet. You may also wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining required treatment should you become ill."
Information on filling a prescription abroad and other health issues may be found here.
A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the U.S. is available on the Department of State’s website.
More Department of State Information
Students are advised to consult their personal physicians and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for advice on appropriate vaccines and necessary healthcare prior to departing for their study abroad program.
Because study abroad is a wonderful opportunity to enhance a student's educational and personal development, we at Athena encourage students to actively participate in their program preparation so they are as ready as they can be for life abroad. In addition the wealth of information we provide to students prior to departure (handbooks, street smart guides, packing tips, timelines, budgeting advice, etc.) we also provide the resources below for students to do additional exploration and preparation.
State Department: Students Abroad Information