Prepare, Be Responsible, and Work With the Program
Michigan Tech University takes student safety and well-being very seriously. But we can’t guarantee a risk-free overseas environment any more than we can for students studying in the US. The best way to be safe during your study abroad experience is to be aware, be responsible, and follow the advice of Michigan Tech and your program staff.
Travel has always involved risk, and the COVID-19 pandemic presents even more considerations for anyone traveling domestically or internationally. Anyone considering travel should assess their personal risk tolerance and review the information below to make an informed decision about whether traveling is the right choice for you.
COVID-19 Risk Levels
The CDC outlines the particular risks associated with travel for contracting and spreading COVID-19. Risk can differ depending on the mode of transportation, the origin and destination of travel, accommodations, and activities.
You should consider the COVID risk level at your point of departure (since you risk spreading COVID-19 to others), at your destination, and at any points of transit.
We recommend using the Harvard Global Health Institute/Brown School of Public Health COVID-19 Risk Levels map to compare COVID risk globally (select "Worldwide" on the left-hand side of the map to view risk levels per country).
You should assess your suitability for travel by reviewing public health guidance from the CDC, reviewing COVID-19 spread at destination (see below in “COVID-19 Risk Levels”), and discussing travel plans with their primary care physician. Consider making an appointment with a travel health professional if you need immunizations, malaria prophylaxis, etc.
Some populations are more at risk of becoming severely ill after contracting COVID-19. This includes:
- older adults
- adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions such as immunocompromised state, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, or type 2 diabetes.
This is not an exhaustive list. The CDC also provides additional information about populations at increased risk for severe illness or who may need to take extra precautions against COVID-19.
Host Country Entry Restrictions and Requirements
You must verify all entry and exit requirements in advance of travel, for all countries on the itinerary including transit countries. Countries may have different entry and exit requirements at land borders, ports of sea, or airports. Common entry or exit requirements that countries are enacting during the global pandemic include:
- testing requirements (including pre-departure, arrival and/or exit testing)
- quarantine on arrival at a designated facility, designated hotel, or private residence (often at traveler’s own expense)
- public health forms, participation in COVID-19 tracing apps, etc.
The U.S. has also introduced entry requirements and restrictions. Some requirements (like presenting a negative COVID-19 test) apply to everyone. Others (like prohibiting entry to the U.S. if you have physically been in the Schengen Area, the UK, South Africa, or Brazil) exempt U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and some other specific categories of traveler. More information is available on the U.S. Department of State COVID-19 country specific information page.
This list is not exhaustive and entry requirements are subject to change without notice. You must monitor these restrictions carefully.
Travel and COVID-19 Testing
Some countries require evidence of a negative COVID-19 test (usually a negative PCR - or nasal swab - test) to enter. These test results often need to be from within 48-72 hours of departure. Read these entry requirements carefully as they vary by country and can be specific. For example, the PCR test results might need to include your name as it appears on your passport. We recommend securing a physician’s note or certificate attesting to the negative results.
Obtaining a PCR test, if required or desired, is the traveler's responsibility.
Michigan Tech Flex offers information on testing locations in the Houghton area. The state of Michigan also maintains a list of testing sites.
Anyone outside Michigan is encouraged to locate a local health center offering testing.
Returning to the US
As of January 26, 2021, anyone traveling by plane to the United States from an international location must present proof of a negative viral COVID test (NAAT or antigen) from within 72 hours of departure to the U.S. Anyone without evidence of a negative test will be denied boarding. This requirement applies to everyone including citizens and permanent residents. It’s also required even if the traveler has been fully vaccinated against COVID. Please review detailed guidance from the CDC. You must verify that you can obtain a viral COVID-19 test at your destination/country of origin.
If you are returning to campus from domestic or international travel, you must follow Michigan Tech's inbound travel health protocols. All other travelers are encouraged to follow CDC recommendations.
The US Department of State (DOS) provides information on DOS country travel advisories as well as specific DOS information related to COVID-19, including Presidential Proclamations and restrictions on entering or re-entering the United States.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes country-specific travel health notices and has an interactive map with COVID-19 travel recommendations from the CDC.
It’s natural that students and parents have questions about the safety of study abroad. Please refer to the study abroad FAQs section.
Students enrolled in Michigan Tech study abroad programs are required to attend pre-departure 201 and 301. These orientation sessions focus on health, safety, and personal responsibility, including drug and alcohol use, and legal consequences that differ from US policies.
When they arrive in their host country, students attend onsite orientation that covers specific health and safety. Staff provides instructions on protocol for political crises, terrorist events, natural disasters, or other emergencies and gives each student a list of on-site emergency contacts.
Emergency Contact Information
Students, keep both a digital and physical list of this information with you at all times.
- On-site staff (host university’s international office or resident director)
- Pavlis Honors College study abroad office (906-487-1876)
- Study Abroad Program Specialist Vienna Leonarduzzi, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Michigan Tech Public Safety and Police Services (906-487-2216)
- Public Safety will contact IPS staff after business hours.
We strongly recommend that parents or guardians have a valid passport in case there is an emergency.
Students who follow simple recommendations are most likely to keep themselves safe and enjoy a great educational experience.
Take Safety Personally
There are many things you can do to minimize risk:
- Be aware of your surroundings and blend in. Dress like the locals. Don’t wear clothes with American slogans, cultural icons, or company logos.
- Avoid American hangouts and moving around the city with large groups of other Americans.
- Don’t visit areas known to be unsafe.
- Don’t use alcohol or other substances that impair your decision-making ability.
- Keep independent travel to a minimum and never go on off-program excursions alone. Travel with a companion, preferably a local citizen, and always leave an itinerary behind with the host family or resident director.
- Avoid crowds, confrontations, arguments concerning political or religious views, and public demonstrations of any kind.
- Draw on as many sources of reliable information as possible before making decisions—the US Consulate, host family members, on-site resident directors or program staff. Listen to their advice.
Handling Specific Situations
What happens if a student is asked to evacuate their host country?
Any decision to evacuate students from a study abroad site will be made largely on the advisories and warnings of the US State Department and after consultation with on-site staff. Should students be asked to evacuate, on-site staff (resident director and/or the host institution's international office) will provide instructions. Some program sites may have a predetermined emergency meeting place where students should go; or in other cases, students may be asked to remain with their host families or stay in residence hall rooms or apartments until further arrangements are made. As in all emergency situations, it is important that students remain calm, not act impulsively, and follow instructions that are given by program staff or the US Consulate. Once students are safe, they should contact their family members in the US at the earliest available opportunity.
Parents are encouraged to contact the Michigan Tech Pavlis Honors College study abroad staff at 906-487-1876 to receive the latest information available (see Emergency Contacts). Parents may also email the Michigan Tech study abroad office for information email@example.com. We strongly recommend parents or a designated emergency contact have a passport in case they need to travel to the student.
What happens to the credit if a student is evacuated or departs from a program prior to completing the term?
Michigan Tech works closely with institutional partners regarding course completion and fulfillment of academic objectives. Students will be able to work with our Dean of Students office and Pavlis Honors College study abroad office to have exams proctored on campus or offered online in order to fulfill unmet course expectations abroad. In most instances, full or partial credit can be negotiated.
What roles do Michigan Tech, the host institution, and/or program providers have in an emergency response situation?
Michigan Tech reacts to emergencies abroad by working with a team of institutional partners in the US and abroad. Program providers have additional staff that work 24/7 to monitor situations around the world and are quick to inform us by phone or email when an emergency arises. In the case of host institutions where a provider relationship does not exist, emergency response and decision-making are equally shared by Michigan Tech and that institution. Our host institutions have developed protocols unique to their campuses and Pavlis Honors College study abroad staff travels as regularly as possible for site assessments.
Are there guidelines on what students can or cannot do abroad?
All students who study abroad through one of Michigan Tech’s programs complete an Illegal Drug Use Policy and Waiver of Liability and Hold Harmless Agreement as part of the application process. By agreeing to the terms in these forms, students acknowledge that they will comply with Michigan Tech’s student conduct policies at all times. In addition, students must follow their host institution and/or program provider’s policies. In some cases, there may be conduct rules unique to a particular site or country that students are required to abide by, including certain travel, cultural rituals, or extracurricular activities that are prohibited for safety reasons.
Know the Plan
It’s important to step back from the initial fear-based impulse and view the situation through a rational lens that separates fact from rumor.
Emergencies and Emergency Procedures
Fortunately, true emergencies are rare. You may lose your luggage, your plane ticket, or even your passport. That’s certainly inconvenient, but not an emergency. Emergencies are situations that are an immediate threat to a student or staff member’s health or safety.
Michigan Tech has developed a detailed Emergency Response Plan that allows us to respond quickly and effectively to ensure the safety and well-being of our students. We also work with a team of health, safety, and security experts to proactively monitor conditions abroad, as well as a team of first responders to handle situations as they arise.
- The first point of contact is our office. Call 906-487-1876, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Eastern Standard Time, or 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, from June–August.
- After 5 p.m. Eastern Time, and on weekends or public holidays, call Michigan Tech Public Safety at 906-487-2216.
- Parents may also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students should develop a communication plan for regular contact with their parents or guardians to keep them informed about their safety, well-being, and travel plans.
Our top preparedness tip: Know how to use the telephone and have a calling card or other means of using the telephone in the countries that you are visiting on your own or as part of the program. And a second reminder: Ask your parents or designated emergency contact to obtain a passport so they can come immediately to help if needed.
Emergencies Abroad for Michigan Tech Exchange/Consortium Participants
If you see an emergency or have an emergency, your first call after you have attended to any life-threatening matters should be to the designated contact at your host institution. You should also contact Michigan Tech Pavlis Honors College study abroad office at 906-487-1876.
- Before you leave the United States, get the address and phone number of the US Consulate or Embassy closest to your host cities from http://www.usembassy.gov/.
- When you arrive in the host country, register with the US Embassy or Consulate. You’ll provide them with information on the length of your stay and how to reach you.
- If you are not a US citizen, register with the embassy of your passport country.
- Ask about available emergency procedures and resources when you arrive at your host institution.
- Develop a plan before you leave for checking in regularly via phone or email with your parents or others concerned with your safety and well-being. People need to know how to get in touch with you, especially if you are away from your program city or traveling on your own before or after the program. If there is a serious illness or death in your family, loved ones will need to reach you. They will also want to be in touch to hear your voice and make sure you’re OK if there is a crisis in the US or elsewhere.
- If an emergency requires you to leave your program and return to the US for any length of time, notify your program director, coordinator or group leader.
- Make sure that someone always knows where and how to contact you in an emergency and knows your schedule and itinerary when you are traveling. If you have any questions or concerns about safety or emergencies before your departure or during your study abroad program, contact your program leader or the Michigan Tech Pavlis Honors College study abroad office email@example.com.
There are many on-line resources that provide safety information for travelers in general or specifically for study abroad students. We’ve listed some of the most helpful:
- Association for International Road Safety
- Federal Aviation Administration: Security tips for travelers and information on aviation safety.
- The Center for Global Education, SAFTI INFO
- US Embassies Recommendations to Americans Abroad
- US State Department—Your Safety
- US State Department General Site
- US State Department Travel Advisories and Warnings
- US State Department Travel Publications
- OSAC—Overseas Security Advisory Council