Advanced planning is one of the most important aspects of running a successful and safe program overseas. Faculty and departments should consider the items below when planning a program or trip overseas:
Travel Risk and Travel Registry
While considering a program abroad, faculty and departments need to assess travel risk in country/countries where the program will be run. Please consult MIT Travel Risk Policy and other information at https://icc.mit.edu/travel-abroad/safety-and-security/mit-international-..., and work with Todd Holmes (firstname.lastname@example.org) to follow a health and safety preparation process for the program location (which will also include a separate waiver application process if the program location is in a high-risk country). As part of this preparation process, MIT travelers must also register in the MIT Travel Registry.
Health and Safety Planning
All participants should have adequate health insurance coverage for their overseas stay. They will need to understand the terms of coverage, including what services are or are not covered, the deductibles, and their insurance provider's definition of a medical emergency. If the participants take medication or need treatments on a regular basis, they should check with the appropriate consulate about restrictions on medications brought into the country. With their physicians, participants should develop a plan for medications or treatments during their time abroad.
While on an MIT program abroad students are covered by MIT study abroad health insurance, accessed by contacting International SOS, a medical, emotional support and travel security assistance company. Students must register in the MIT Travel Registry to have this coverage. ISOS will also provide assistance for any urgent/emergent situation that arises when an MIT student is traveling abroad on an MIT program, including medical or security evacuations if needed. They are available 24/7 and also can assist in finding and facilitating medical and mental health care abroad. Travelers should register with ISOS before departure.
Program leaders need to confirm who will be the English-speaking contact person or host in country and how they can be reached by phone in case of an emergency. Please ask your contact to provide information about nearby hospitals and medical resources and English-speaking doctors at each location.
Participants must register in the MIT Travel Registry before traveling. As part of this process, they will need to fill out and sign electronically forms related to health and safety and should upload a copy of passport, visa (if applicable) and flight information.
Participants should bring a copy of travel documents on the trip as well and keep them in a safe place separate from their original documents.
MIT Point of Contact
Designate an administrator in your office to be the MIT point of contact for the group during the trip. Todd Holmes can work with this person in case any situation arises.
All participants benefit from attending a pre-departure orientation, facilitated either by the MISTI team or the department. In the pre-departure orientation, we suggest covering important topics such as health and safety, cultural differences, the political situation in the country, academic/personal goals for the program, what to expect in terms of food/housing and money matters, and what activities are planned.
An orientation for students once they arrive in country is important as well. In this session, the host or faculty coordinator should discuss what to do in case of an emergency, provide local medical information, and expectations of the program and student conduct.
It is important to organize a welcome-back session for students who participated in the program or trip. This will allow the students to share reflections about the program with one another and with the program leader and to discuss reverse culture shock if they are experiencing it. It also could facilitate a discussion to assess if program goals were met.