2 people walking on a crosswalk in Japan

Health and Safety

Our first priority is helping our students have a safe and healthy educational experience abroad. And particularly in light of recent global headlines and events, it’s important for you to know more about the ways St. John’s works to make our study abroad programs as safe as possible. As you read this section, we’d ask you to keep two important concepts in mind: 

  • Though we’re happy to offer our insights and guidance, study abroad is a family decision. Unfortunately, a “guarantee” of safety is never possible, so we want you and your family to make an educated decision using reliable information provided to you by St. John’s and by outside sources. Be sure to check news and information sites you trust as you consider potential destinations—including places you may visit independently during free days or weekends. We recommend the Department of State’s Students Abroad and general Travel sites as starting points on basic safety guidelines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers’ Health site for information on wellness abroad.
  • It’s also important to know that a student’s decisions once abroad factor heavily into safety. Following St. John’s code of conduct (particularly around drinking) and making smart choices during your free time will go a long way toward keeping you safe!

So what does St. John’s do to make the program as trouble-free as possible, and to help students if they do encounter difficulties? We encourage you to read on for more. 

Keeping Programs Safe through Planning and Comprehensive Insurance

Going abroad requires preparation, even for the most seasoned of travelers. It’s a period in your life where getting lost and exploring the streets of the city is not only expected, but welcomed! So before you go, we thought we’d reassure you of ways St. John’s helps keep students safe.

Vetting Program Locations 

In conjunction with the St. John’s Office of Public Safety, we research all program locations with the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control, other U.S-based and international governmental sources of information, and news reports. We closely follow the standards of best practice in the education abroad field, making sure that we take advantage of resources and connections needed to offer the safest possible programs.

24/7 On-Call Response

Members of the International Education teams in New York and abroad are available 24/7 to assist students in the event of an emergency. We provide students with local emergency contact information upon arrival, but you should always reach out to us if you need something, day or night. During regular business hours, you may call us directly at 718-990-6105. After hours, please call Public Safety at 718-990-5252 to be connected to one of our on-call administrators.


As strong as our in-house resources may be, we recognize that you may need more—especially if you travel outside our programs’ “home” cities. From doctor’s visits to evacuation in the event of natural disaster, our insurance covers all students participating in St. John’s programs—whether they’re short- or longer-term, graduate or undergraduate. You’re automatically enrolled for health insurance and emergency assistance through Chubb. Once you’re enrolled by St. John’s you’ll receive an email from [email protected] with your insurance ID card and summary of insurance coverage for your trip. Please keep an eye out for that email before you depart for your trip. Here is the International Travel Insurance summary of benefits document which outlines your coverage and provides you with instructions on how to access the 24-7 travel assistance portal and download the mobile app.

Pre-Departure and On-Site Orientations

All programs run by the Office of International Education require students to complete a pre-departure orientation program. In addition, students must take part in the Cultural Mentorship Program, which offers general tips for all aspects of study abroad, and may have components abroad as well. Our goal is to ensure that you have the information you need to make smart choices abroad, not just about your safety and health, but about how to make the most of your academic and cultural experience.

Department of State Travel Registration

All U.S. citizens who provide our office with accurate passport information are registered with the Department of State’s “Smart Traveler” program to allow for better coordination in the event of an emergency.

Travel Safety

For many students, independent exploration and travel is a major part of their study abroad experience, and with it comes a world of new insight and awareness. But part of that awareness also includes keeping yourself safe! That’s why we’ve dedicated this next section to outlining general tips for staying safe during your travels—whether you’re getting to know your new “home” city or heading farther afield.

  • Stay on top of current events and be aware of your surroundings: While some of us would like to think of ourselves as experts in “big city” etiquette, it’s important to always stay alert and to use common sense when traveling in a foreign country. Street smarts in New York are not necessarily the same thing as street smarts in Paris or New Delhi. Research your destinations before you go, and stay informed of current events and subsequent travel advisories for use in making good independent travel decisions. We recommend the Department of State’s Students Abroad and general Travel site as starting points.
  • Don’t do anything abroad that you wouldn’t do New York—or any other big city in the U.S. While we encourage our students to experience new cultures and explore new neighborhoods to get to know the local culture, you should never put yourself at risk. In addition to your independent research, talk to the site staff or your professors to determine what “safe exploration” looks like in your destination(s).
  • Keep the on-site staff or your program leaders aware of your independent travel plans. When travelling, remember: whether you’re taking a long weekend in another city or simply “crashing” in your new home town, let the local staff know your plans—and be sure to carry the on-site emergency contact numbers with you at all times.
  • Avoid scams. Going to school in New York City, you probably think you know everything there is to know about avoiding scams. You also probably know how to spot a tourist from five blocks away. With that in mind, it's time to accept that, soon, YOU will be the tourist! We'll guide you through the common traps to avoid during pre-departure and on-site orientations.
  • Pay attention to pre-departure and on-site orientation sessions and materials! We know that there’s a lot of information to take in, but being informed truly is the best way to stay safe—and we’re here to help!