Health, Safety & Emergencies


Before you Travel

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Any student who will be on medication regularly, has a chronic medical condition, or may need medical services or doctors while away, should make an appointment to see the Executive Director of the Center for International Programs. Please schedule this appointment before the end of the second week of the quarter preceding the study away experience so that appropriate arrangements can be made with the program away.

Medical Insurance

All students participating in study away are required to have valid Accident and Sickness Insurance. This covers doctor visits, prescriptions, medical tests, hospitalization and other related costs. For all first and second year students and all international students at Kalamazoo College are required to have this medical insurance or have a waiver because they are covered by another approved plan. For students who still need coverage while on study away, there is an insurance plan available through Kalamazoo College.

Travel Health Websites

Recommended by Kalamazoo College Student Health Center:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Lonely Planet


Students who take prescription medications should carry an adequate supply for the duration away in the original container with his/her name on it. Please carry a card, tag, or bracelet that identifies any physical condition that may require emergency care.

Students who may not be able to obtain enough medication to cover the duration of their study away program may have a health care provider give a summary of the conditions and treatments (including the medications prescribed) for the condition. Upon arrival to the study away program, the participant may schedule an appointment with a local physician and receive a local prescription that may be (re)filled at a local pharmacy. Participants are still encouraged to carry at least one month’s worth of medication.


Some students report becoming ill during their time away. At the very least many students will get the “travel cold.” Students are encouraged to visit the local doctor if they are sick for more than a few days. The Program staff will be able to provide students with a list of local doctors. Students should keep a copy of the receipt that includes the diagnosis in case symptoms return once the program ends.

In the case of accidents or injury, students should inform the Program Staff as soon as possible.

Mental and Emotional Health

Students are encouraged to be vigilant about their mental and emotional health while away. Some study away sites have resources available for on-site counseling. Students are encouraged to contact CIP staff during the orientation process if they have specific concerns about availability. The Counseling Center at Kalamazoo College may also assist in this process. Study away program staff have information available upon request about local doctors, clinics, and programs available to Kalamazoo students.

In cases of crisis, the counseling center here at the College is available to the participants via Skype, phone or email. Local contacts are another good option. If a study away participant is the victim of an assault and battery, sexual assault or rape, we encourage participants to inform the Program staff and the local authorities in addition to seeking help and counseling from a crisis center or other professional.

Sexual Health

Issues of sexuality can be complex in the home cultural environment, and much more so in one that is less familiar. While living in a culture that is unfamiliar, it is more challenging to evaluate situations and to assess risks for emotional distress, disease, and assault as a result of intentional or non-intentional sexual contact. Sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent everywhere in the world, and the HIV virus can lead to death. We strongly recommend that students educate themselves on safe sex practices, pack condoms from the U.S. when they are traveling, and be cautious about their sexual activity while away. If a participant has sexual contact without any form of protection, condom or dental dam, he/she should see a medical provider right away. Participants have an increased risk of STIs, including, but not limited too; HIV, Hepatitis B, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia. For further information regarding HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, please consult with Kalamazoo College’s Health Center or your physician.

Learning about the host city’s culture with regard to acceptable and safe sexual behavior, is one of the responsibilities of participants as they prepare for and experience study away. It is also very important that participants understand the local norms and patterns of relationships between genders. What are the local dating patterns? Is it the custom for females to have male friends (or vice versa) or is that considered unusual? If one accepts a drink or some other “gift”, is he/she tacitly consenting to sexual activity? In cases of crisis, the counseling center here at the College is available to the participants via Skype, phone or email. Local contacts are another good option. If a study away participant is the victim of an assault and battery, sexual assault or rape, we encourage participants to inform the Program staff and the local authorities in addition to seeking help and counseling from a crisis center or other professional.



Participants will have to learn some new “street smarts” that are suitable to the program location. We suggest that students spend the first couple of days on-site engaged in the orientation program
for the city. Learn which and/or when certain neighborhoods or districts should be avoided. Learn the transportation system, so one can get home. Learn how to ask for and understand directions.
Learn how to blend in–how to dress, how to act, how to walk, how to deal with looks or approaches by strangers. Watch, ask, and imitate the locals. Here are some general tips; ask your Program Staff for more particulars:

  • Be prepared to give-up some independence and freedom of expression; plan on living by the new city’s “rules.” What was okay to do in Kalamazoo may not be okay in the host city.
  • Participants should try to look as though they know where they are going, even when lost.
  • Confidence will deter potential muggers/pickpockets. Don’t dangle purses or cameras from your wrist. Backpacks and big purses can be targets; Don’t carry wallets in a back pocket. Don’t carry large amounts of cash.
  • Know the dangerous areas of a new community before making it a habit to walk alone.
  • Don’t walk or ride the bus alone at night–spend the money on a reputable taxi.
  • When staying in a hotel make sure it has a good security system – locks, keys, door person, etc.
  • Do not hitchhike–this is policy!
  • Always know or plan how to get home before heading out the door for the evening. Let someone know the location and expected time of return. When Kalamazoo College students are assaulted or robbed on the street, and it doesn’t happen often, it most frequently occurs late at night. Don’t travel alone–this is policy!
  • We strongly discourage students from “couch surfing” or using Craig’s list to find inexpensive places to stay. While this may be inexpensive, students are risking their personal well-being by staying in housing with strangers.
  • Do not give out personal information to unknown persons. Think twice about riding in a taxi alone. Whenever possible, call a reputable taxi service –find the number after arrival and carry it at all times.
  • Be alert when sightseeing; pay attention to the people and the environment.
  • Always have extra money to get back “home” in case of an emergency.
  • Don’t leave friends at bars or clubs alone, especially at night. Watch out for each other.
  • Be moderate with your consumption of alcohol. Being drunk makes participants an easier target for robbery, assault, etc. Listen to friends if you’ve been drinking and they think it’s time to go home.
  • Trust your instincts – if a situation feels wrong, trust that and get out – even if you might offend others.
Watch Out for Manipulative Strategies!

These are designed to generate uncharacteristic behavior or actions, and can put you at risk. Common manipulative strategies are:

  • Overly charming or being over-friendly for self-gain.
  • Unsolicited giving to create a feeling of indebtedness.
  • Unsolicited promises that can also be false.
  • Refusing to accept “No” for an answer.
  • Forced Teaming – Forming a false sense of bonding between the manipulator and the target in order to establish premature trust.
  • Typecasting – insulting someone because of their membership to a group such as ethnicity, race, nationality, etc. Designed to manipulate a potential target and put her/him on the defensive to prove its inaccuracy.
Countering Manipulation

The Counseling Center offers these thoughts to help students develop their own responses to manipulative strategies.

Trust yourself if you are feeling manipulated and respond based on that feeling. Second-guessing yourself could make you vulnerable.

Typically, it doesn’t work to argue or try to change the manipulator’s mind or to point out the manipulation. Taking a clearly assertive (firm) stand, “I’m not interested in talking about that/engaging in that activity/or having a relationship with you,” are all appropriate.

It’s very important, once you’ve decided on the message you want to send, that you are consistent. Straying from your message, even a little, will bring the manipulation back and make it more resistant to change.

Regarding Forced Teaming specifically: Trust your instincts – there is almost always an agenda with trust that comes very quickly.


Emergency Procedures and Contacts

True emergencies are actually quite rare. While losing luggage or tickets is inconvenient, they are not emergencies. Emergencies are situations in which there is an immediate threat to a student’s health and/or safety. Kalamazoo College has an emergency procedure in place for Kalamazoo programs. A participant’s first call should be to the Program staff of the program, pertaining to any life-threatening matters, of course.

Emergencies at home: people need to know how to get in touch with participants on site–especially if students are away from the program city or after the program has ended. Please inform the Program staff at the study away site if there has been a family emergency. Participants must have a leave of absence approved by the Program staff and the Executive Director of the Center for International Programs in order to be excused from classes to return home in a family emergency.

Note: you must return to your study away location and complete the academic program there to receive credit. The following are contact numbers for the Center for International Programs staff:

  • Center for International Programs (Voice) 269.337.7133
  • Center for International Programs (Fax) 269.337.7400
  • Dr. Margaret Wiedenhoeft, Executive Director (Cell) 269.267.5800
  • Mrs. Alayna Lewis, Assistant Director for International Students & Study Abroad in the Americas (Cell) 269.251.8876
  • Mr. Tony Nelson, Assistant Director of Student Engagement (Cell) 773.870.6825
  • Ms. Asia Bennett, Study Abroad and Exchange Student Advisor (Cell) 734.883.3064

If students cannot reach anyone in the Center for International Programs, they should phone the Campus Safety office at 269.337.7321; the Safety office will notify one of the staff. If you wish to contact the Center for International Programs via email, the address is:

Sexual Harassment

Kalamazoo College students studying away are bound by College policy regarding social behavior, sexual harassment, and the Honor System for their own actions. With regard to the actions of others, the Center for International Programs has worked to make our partners away aware of College policies regarding sexual harassment. We attempt to follow federal regulations regarding Title IX policies and reporting protocols. This means if a student feels that she or he or they have been the subject of sexual harassment during a study away program, the student should first report this to the Program staff or to the proper University official, typically to the Dean of Students. The student may also choose to report to a CIP staff member. Once receiving the report, either from the student or other staff member, CIP staff are required to report to the Title IX officer at Kalamazoo College. The host university may also investigate the charge according to their procedures. Students making a report of sexual harassment may be asked to provide details concerning the incident and the perpetrator(s). We will try to maintain confidentiality throughout the process and honor the reporting student’s request for follow up. If the harassment charge is against a Kalamazoo College student, we will make every effort to follow the procedures used on campus with adjustments for the distance, the rules, and the mores of the partner institution. To ensure the safety and well-being of others, Kalamazoo College reserves the right to suspend or terminate the accused student’s participation in the study away program.

The College is obligated to respond when a student on study away or a member of that student’s family reports to a Kalamazoo College staff member that the student has been the target of sexual harassment. A typical response by the College would include a discussion with the student as to what happened, followed by a discussion with appropriate officials at the host institution away about possible courses of action. Although every effort would be made to handle these matters confidentially, Kalamazoo College has no control over how the host institution may choose to handle the report of an incident of sexual harassment. Furthermore, the College’s concern for the students’ health, safety, and well-being while away may require that all details relating to the incident be communicated to the Program staff.


As part of the on-site orientation, we expect that participants will be given information about locating local contact numbers for agencies and organizations that deal with crisis issues such as assault, rape, suicide, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, depression, etc. If participants need help in one of these areas, we hope he/she will seek it out. In addition, the CIP urges participants to talk with a staff member at the program. These are highly personal issues and it is difficult to talk to anyone about them. The counseling center here at the College is available to the participants via Skype, phone or email. Local contacts are another good option. If a study away participant is the victim of an assault and battery, sexual assault or rape, we encourage participants to inform the local Program staff and the local authorities in addition to seeking help and counseling from a crisis center or other professional.

Responding to Physical Assault

Physical assault is a traumatic event that can occur in any environment, whether on K’s campus or in a new city. Study away participants may be more visible and thus more likely to attract interest, whether positive or negative. Maintaining personal safety can be complex in one’s own environment and much more so in one that is less familiar. It is more challenging to read situations and to assess risks to physical safety. Even though only a handful of students report being mugged or physically assaulted, it is a traumatic experience and we encourage participants to inform local Program staff when this occurs. On-site staff may assist in getting participants to the hospital and reporting the incident to the police.

Sexual Assault

Rape and sexual assault can happen to women and men anywhere in the world. In the United States, one in six women and one in 33 men will be the victim of a sexual assault in her/his/their lifetime according to the website RAINN. Unfortunately, once students leave campus, their risk of sexual assault is not lowered. Kalamazoo College and the Center for International Programs take this issue extremely seriously: the following section is not meant to scare participants, but rather to provide strategies to mitigate the risk of sexual assault as well as provide information about what to do after a sexual assault. Several factors that can place students at risk for sexual assault:

  • Use of alcohol or other drugs that impair judgment or being with someone who is using alcohol and is intoxicated
  • “Hooking up” with unfamiliar persons
  • Feeling pressured to engage in sexual activity or feeling like everyone else is doing it
  • Feeling lonely or depressed
  • Not communicating clearly about your wishes and expectations

The following factors can place students at risk for perpetrating sexual assault:

  • Use of alcohol or other drugs that impair judgment or being with someone who is using alcohol and is intoxicated
  • “Hooking up” with unfamiliar persons
  • Not communicating clearly about your wishes and expectations
  • Not seeking clear, unambiguous consent for specific activities
  • Ignoring “stop” signs during a sexual encounter
  • Assuming consent when none is given

These lists have been adapted from the Kalamazoo College sexual misconduct policy.

In addition to these factors, there are additional considerations when a student is outside their familiar cultural environment. Culture, gender, and local law shape personal interactions and the norms of consent in any given place.

While laws regarding sexual assault greatly differ by state, incidents between Kalamazoo College students are subject to the Kalamazoo College Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Responding to Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is a traumatic incident regardless of when or where it happens, but it can be particularly challenging if participants are in an unfamiliar city and away from their normal support network. Even if the participant knows she/he/they do not want to report to the police, a first step should be to seek medical attention. For students on study away programs, the CIP recommends reporting the incident to the local staff member. This person is responsible for handling emergencies as well as for being a source of information for the personal health and well-being for participants. S/he/they can help participants access medical treatment, emotional support, legal counsel, and other needs.

The local director or on-site staff is not obligated to report the incident to the CIP, but if s/he/they chooses to do so, there is a protocol for this response. It is typically the practice of the CIP to talk with the survivor directly to ensure the student has received the appropriate medical and counseling assistance available locally. CIP staff members must follow campus protocol and notify the Dean of Students. The CIP staff member will inform campus counselors, parents, or other campus personnel only with the consent of the survivor. If students wish to talk with someone who will maintain confidentiality, students may notify the campus Chaplain Liz Candido or ++ 269.337.7361) or a member of the Counseling Center (on-call phone is ++269.598.6907). The Counseling Center and the Chaplin are the only confidential resources available on campus.

Immediately following a sexual assault:

  • Get to a safe place.
  • Seek help from someone you trust.
  • Inform the on-site staff.
  • Avoid showering/bathing, brushing your teeth, or urinating (if possible) before you receive medical care. This will keep evidence intact should if the student chooses to make a police report at any time.
  • Seek medical attention
  • Write (or ask the on-site staff or a friend to help) a detailed report of the incident. As time passes, students may forget details that may be important should the student decide to press charges.

Listen to the on-site staff for legal, medical, and psychological information and support. Students are strongly encouraged to seek medical attention after a sexual assault. A doctor can not only collect evidence of the assault and also check for STIs, provide emergency contraception and other treatments, and treat any injuries. If a student chooses to make a report to the police, understand that sexual assault and rape laws vary greatly by state. The local program staff can help participants understand local laws and procedures.

As time passes, be patient with the process of recovery. Sexual assault is a very traumatic experience, and it takes time to recover. Each survivor experiences unique reactions to sexual assault, and the process of recovery often is not linear. Upon return to Kalamazoo, survivors may have unique challenges reintegrating to K. Continue to seek support from friends, and consider utilizing on- and off-campus resources such as the Counseling Center or the Kalamazoo YWCA.

Because many K students tend to participate in programs with other K students, participants may also find themselves supporting a friend who has been the victim of sexual assault. Friends of participants are encouraged to follow the “response to sexual assault” steps outlined previously. Remember an important role is to be a friend and to be supportive, not to determine what happened.


Alcoholics Anonymous World Services
TEL: 212.870.3400

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Over-eaters Anonymous
TEL: 505.891.2664

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
24/7 Online Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE (4673)

Centers for Disease Control
24/7 Hotline: 1.800.232.4636 (1.800.CDC.INFO)

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa
TEL: 630.577.1330