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Health and Safety

BCA Study Abroad knows that you may be concerned about your son or daughter’s safety while abroad.  Please rest assured that BCA carefully considers the safety of the locations where we send students.  We take precautions to ensure the security and well-being of students while studying abroad and also stay informed about events in each of the countries where we have study centers. BCA draws from extensive experience to continually improve its programs and make them safe for studying and exploring.

Among measures for the safety of our students BCA does the following:

  • All students on BCA programs are registered with the State Department and the US embassy in the country they study in. They receive immediate warnings and advice if incidents occur.
  • All BCA students are enrolled with Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) which can arrange emergency evacuation if needed and which also advises on developing threatening situations. It also assists in cases of medical emergency, natural disasters etc.
  • All BCA students receive pre-departure orientations that include safety tips for all situations they could encounter
  • All BCA students receive on-site orientation that includes further reinforcement and development of such tips
  • All students are required to inform the resident director of any independent travel, their itinerary and where they will be on a given day.
  • All BCA students are served by experienced and capable resident directors who are the first call if there is any issue needing to be dealt with and who contact each student if an incident occurs
  • If an incident occurs resident directors are in constant contact with BCA’s central office team to develop and implement response actions according to well-developed protocols and years of experience.

BCA continues to run its programs in all our program sites around the world. We continue to monitor the well-being of our students and to offer the best, most immersive experience we can.

Special Note about Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses

There is a great deal of discussion about the Zika virus. While the Zika virus is present in Mexico and Ecuador, neither the US government nor the World Health Organization is advising people not to travel internationally. Additionally, the mosquitoes that spread Zika usually do not live at elevations above 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) because of environmental conditions. Both  Quito, Ecuador and Xalapa, Mexico are at an elevation where these mosquitoes do not live. Program excursions and independent travel may be in areas where the Zika virus is possible, however.

The best protection from Zika virus is preventing mosquito bites. It is very important that you understand how the Zika virus is transmitted and take all steps to prevent transmission. Please click here to read more about the virus and prevention.

The following are some of the ways that BCA Study Abroad works to maximize the safety of all study abroad program participants.

Site Orientation

Upon arrival students have an on-site orientation during which they are provided with an introduction to daily life at their specific site, which includes information on dining, public transportation, academic expectations, independent traveling and surrounding attractions. The orientation sessions also emphasize what precautions to take on site and the importance of good decision-making when it comes to personal safety.

Health, Safety, and Emergency Management Plans

BCA stays informed about the Department of States’ recommendations for U.S. citizen safety abroad, particularly in the regions where BCA operates study centers.  Should a situation deteriorate, BCA staff will work with the host university on any necessary actions to ensure student safety.

Health Insurance and Travel Risk Management Program

BCA provides international health insurance and emergency evacuation services for all summer, semester and year students through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), which has a wide network of assistance providers who can offer unmatched global expertise. Its highly skilled multilingual staff ensures that our students have access to immediate top quality support in the event of a medical or security emergency. CISI has doctors and translators on staff, providing toll-free, 24/7 worldwide access to benefits, providers, and emergency assistance for everything from a lost passport to an emergency evacuation.

For details regarding the coverage provided to BCA students, please review the BCA policy brochure.

Additionally, once enrolled, students can log in to CISI’s online participant portal to gain access to helpful links and resources tailored to their program:

  • Links to U.S. Embassies
  • Consular information sheets
  • Country profiles
  • CDC health and vaccination information
  • English-speaking doctors by country
  • U.S. State Department travel warnings
  • Safety and travel tips

Network of Contacts

BCA operates more than a dozen student programs worldwide.  Students can download an CISI card, a 24-hour emergency contact service that will assist students wherever they are, from their BCA online account after they have been accepted into a program.

Awareness of Surroundings

BCA stays in contact with host university officials, local police and civil authorities in their respective countries.  BCA staff abroad and our host university contacts are sensitive to student concerns and will meet with students who may be concerned about a situation.

Integration in the Local Culture

BCA believes in integrating students into the local culture and we encourage students to develop an understanding of that culture so they gradually become accustomed to daily life at their location. All BCA programs are embedded in university campuses or language centers and provide housing in homestays or in dormitories and apartments with local students.

Other Concerns:

Returning Early From a Study Abroad Site

Whenever a student decides to return home prior to the end of a semester, the U.S. home campus will have to determine how much credit to accept, if any.  The same would hold true if a student has to return home because a program is canceled.  BCA is prepared to work with the home campus in assisting the student in completing coursework for as much credit as possible.

We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. The BCA toll free telephone number is 1-866-222-6188 and you may also contact Rachel Helwig, Assistant Director of Health & Safety and Program Services, who will assist you with all BCA health and safety issues. She can be reached at RHelwig@BCAStudyAbroad.org or called at 717-361-6610.

We hope that we have provided you with information to satisfy all your concerns as a parent and look forward to helping you and your child in the application process and beyond. Thank you.