Health and safety abroad

The safety and security of IU students abroad is of the utmost importance to Indiana University. Due to this, the IU Office of Overseas Study regularly monitors information relevant to the safety of all IU students abroad.  Additionally, primary consideration is given to travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, which has four levels, one being the safest and four the most dangerous.

All O’Neill programs are held in countries at levels 1 (exercise normal precautions) and 2 (exercise increased caution). Level 2 countries include places such as Germany, France, and the U.K. whereas countries with a level 1 advisory include Barbados, Poland, and New Zealand. You can see exactly which level the country your student is going to is at by checking on the U.S. Department of State Website 

Despite the safety level of a country, it is important to understand that there are risks involved with everything, including study abroad. From road accidents to natural disasters, incidents happen no matter where you are. IU and O’Neill have detailed plans to keep your student safe while abroad, despite these possibilities. These plans include pre-departure health and safety training online, protocols detailed in handbooks physically given to all students, prepared staff on every program, and a group specific emergency action plan.

More specifically, O’Neill is looking out for your student’s health and safety with the following:

Your student is registered for health insurance through GeoBlue for the duration of the study abroad program. Prior to departure, your student is encouraged to download the GeoBlue app. This app is free and can help your student with translations when scheduling appointments, discussing medication, setting up direct billing, and finding a provider nearby the program accommodations. 

Although staff will have a list on hand of nearby hospitals that are GeoBlue approved, additional information regarding medical options and services can be accessed online and through the app, directly by your student.

Note: Parents/guardians can register with GeoBlue to have online access to the tools necessary to help your student manage his/her healthcare. You can help arrange direct pay, view plan details and even sign up for alerts relating to health and safety risks in the area where your student will be traveling by setting up a parent account.

To set up your own GeoBlue account, visit From this website, you will need to click on “Member Login” at the top right-hand corner of the screen and another screen will appear. The first selection will be registration for students.

The second selection will be registration for parents and guardians. When you click on the second selection, you will be prompted to enter your information.

Note: You will need to speak with your student before doing this, as some of the information required to set up your account you will need to get from your student.

Every student on O’Neill study abroad programs is given an emergency contact card to carry with them at all times. The card is the size of a credit card and contains the location of the nearest hospital and phone numbers for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, the police, fire department, and ambulance.

Students are also provided with a means to contact program staff, other students on the program, and the O’Neill International Office.

O’Neill International enrolls all U.S. citizens traveling abroad on an O’Neill International program in the Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the U.S. Department of State. This registers your student with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate so that they are aware your student is in the country and can contact your student in the event of an emergency. Additionally, being enrolled in STEP means that your student will receive important information from the Embassy about in-country safety conditions during their time abroad.

If you would like to stay abreast to what is happening in the country where your student will be traveling, you can also register to receive the travel advisories and updates through the U.S. Department of State.

What can you do to prepare for your student to study abroad?

Consider getting or renewing your passport

If your student becomes sick or injured while abroad and requires hospitalization for more than three days, the insurance purchased for your student will cover up to the maximum benefit for the cost of an economy round-trip flight and hotel accommodations for one person to come stay with your student. However, you will need a passport to use this benefit.

Develop a communication plan with your student

We provide information to students going on all programs concerning cell phone options for their time abroad. Students on the vast majority of programs will also have at least intermittent wifi. Review the various options of communication before your student travels and decide on the frequency in which you should expect to hear from each other and the means by which you will communicate (i.e. text, skype, Groupme, etc.)