grint centre for education and culture

Orientation Handbook

Updated information how to get Russian visa and many other things you should know before your trip to Russia
Getting Russian Study Visa
Step 1. Check your Passport.

All students should have a passport valid for 18 (eighteen) months after the program end date. We encourage students to check the validity of their passports during the application period and apply for the new passport if necessary. Information this process can be found at U.S. Department of State website www.travel.state.gov

Step 2. Send us the document and information in order to receive the official Letter of Invitation – must for getting Russian visa.
All U.S. citizens going to Russia are required to get visa for entry into Russia. You will have to apply to get Study visa. The visa must be obtained prior to entering the Russian Federation. The visa is attached directly to the passport.

In order to apply for the Visa you will need Letter of Invitation. As soon as you are accepted into the program, please send to your study abroad advisor or us directly the scan of your passport front page, information on your postal address and the contact phone number.

This info is needed to prepare the Letter of Invitation and then to send it to you by express mail.

Step 3. Wait for the official letter of Invitation. It takes time…
Letter of Invitation is prepared by the Federal Migration Service (FMS) upon request from the inviting institution (Centre GRINT). The preparation process can be started 45 days prior to the student's entry to Russia. Usually it takes 14 days to receive the Letter of Invitation.

Student visa which you will receive is Single-entry and is good for 90 days. You will see this 90 days period in your visa in your passport. Even if you go for more than 3 month or for the whole year! Do not worry! The visas of students staying here longer (for semester or academic year) will be extended in Russia by the local office of the Federal Migration Service upon request from us.

Upon receiving the Invitation Letter from the FMS it will be sent to you (or Study abroad advisor from the Sponsor institution in the USA) by e-mail (scan) and by DHL. The Embassy or Consulate of the Russian Federation require the original of this document.

Usually you will get Letter of Invitation 30 days before the program start.

Step 4. Do not waste time waiting for Letter of Invitation. Check with the Russian Embassy or Consulate and choose the certified Visa Agency where you would send the document later.
Sometimes rules changes. It is important on this stage to get updated information regarding required documents. This list will include (on the base of the information at Invisa Logistic Services - visa agency, the list can slightly vary from one Agency to another) :

1. An Original Official Invitation (will be provided by us later).
2. Passport with at least 2 blank pages marked "Visas" and valid for at least 18 months after the end of your program.
3. A printed visa application filled out at visa.kdmid.ru, signed by the applicant;
4. A color photograph (check the size!) on a light background, with a clear view of the face, without dark glasses, or head coverings.
5. HIV Test Certificate done no longer than 90 days before applying is required (HIV test must be conducted via a blood sample);
6. The way of payment for the visa. Pease make sure you know where to send your documents and where to pick them up for travel to Russia.

If you are not a citizen of the United States, you must also provide the documents confirming the permission for the long-term to stay in the USA (like student or work visa, work permit, permanent residency (Green Card).

Step 5. Upon receiving the Letter of Invitation from us forward it with all other required documents to the chosen Visa Agency.

Make sure you know when and to where the passport with your visa will be delivered.

Visa and registration in Russia
Foreign nationals must register within seven business days of entering the Russian Federation and receive the document from the local office of Federal Migration Service. This registration service will be provided by Centre GRINT at no extra cost. In order to register foreign student we will need the passport with Russian visa and Migration card (received on the border when the student enters Russia). In other words you should not worry about the registration in Russia as it will be taken care by us.









Health Information
All program participants should have International medical insurance before their arrival to Russia.

Virtually all medications are available in Russia, but students in need of special meds (especially prescription drugs, etc.) should bring enough of them to last the duration of their stay in case they are not available here. In case you are bringing any prescribed meds, please, let us know in advance.

Daily Life in Russia
WEATHER

During the year, Moscow goes through a variety of weather changes, so our students get to experience all four seasons at their finest. Winter in Moscow is not as severe as some people might picture it, but still can be relatively cold, so everyone should be prepared. Spring is usually chilly and wet with all the melting snow. Summers are mild with the average temperature ranging from 23 to 27 C (~75 F), but it gets hotter at times. The beginning of fall is usually warm and sunny with the summer heat coming down. With the climate changes that have been happening over the last few years, it has become very difficult to say which month is the coldest and which one is the hottest in Moscow, the nature never stops surprising.

CLOTHING IN RUSSIA

Russian people like to dress up with no particular occasion, which is the main difference between the everyday looks of people in the two countries. It is very common to put on a lot of make-up, an expensive fur coat, shining leather shoes and go grocery shopping. Although, Russian desire to dress up should not stop American students from wearing whatever they want, no one is here to judge.

PACKING RECOMMENDATIONS

Depending on the season, you will need different clothing. Moscow winter is not as severe as some might think of it, but it does get really cold in January\February, so make sure you bring warm coats, shoes, hats and such. Spring and fall can be both warm and chilly/rainy, so keep that in mind while packing, and bring an umbrella.

Summer in Moscow is very mild and does get quite hot at times. The average temperature is about 75-82 F. Feel free to wear any kind of shoes, shirts and pants as you see fit for this weather, but keep in mind that if you forget to bring something to Russia, you can always buy it here at any of our huge malls.

Students are recommended to pack all their important items such as passports, insurance cards, electronics, credit/debit cards, and items of high monetary value in their carry-on. Also, in case of lost baggage, students are advised to pack a change of clothes and some toiletries in their carry-on as well.

You can always bring less stuff in case you're planning on getting overly excited with shopping in Moscow, but you can always buy another suitcase for that situation. Keep in mind, however, that most airlines charge additional fees for extra luggage.



FOOD

As soon as Americans try Russian food, they immediately taste the drastic difference. We understand that no description can deliver the true experience of any cuisine, but it wouldn't be wrong to say Russian traditional food might taste a bit bland for a Western palate. There is absolutely no heat whatsoever, so if you're a spice junkie – bring a bottle of your favorite hot sauce.

A number of ingredients are crucial for Russian cooking, as people here tend to give them much more credit than anywhere else. For instance, beets are essential for preparing borsch, a traditional Ukrainian\Russian soup. Herbs wise, we strongly doubt there's any other place where people put dill in literally every other dish. Mayo is one the most popular salad dressings along with sunflower oil.

Traditionally Russian lunch is a 3-course meal that consists of a soup, main dish and a beverage. Soups are essential for Russian cooking, it is quite hard to get by without them for too long. Some of the most famous are Shchi (cabbage soup), Borsch (beet soup) and Ukha (fish soup).

Some of the dishes might seem a little bit weird at first, even the way they look. For instance, "kholodets". This dish features shredded meat or fish frozen in meat broth. It is considered a delicacy by many, but might seem a little bit repellent for American. Same deal with caviar, especially the black variety. Some people describe the taste as "too salty\too fishy", while the others consider it a treat and are willing to pay insane amounts of money for it. Anyway, whatever your preferences are, we encourage you not be intimidated by anything and step into the unknown.

MONEY

The national currency in Russia is a Russian ruble; no other currency is accepted in the country. Feel free to exchange some money in America before coming here, but keep in mind the rate is not going to be as reasonable as here. Try not to exchange any money at airports since their rates are usually the worst.

The easiest way to get cash is with an ATM. Obviously we encourage our students to use as much Russian language as possible, but almost all ATMs support English as well. There is a number of crucial things about withdrawing cash in Russia using Americans cards. First, it is extremely important to inform your bank about the upcoming trip, so they don't get suspicious and cancel your cards. In that case it is usually quite difficult to regain access to them. Secondly, make sure you bring a credit and a debit card for the sake of confidence. You can usually pay with both of them, but you can't use a credit card for ATMs most of the time since the majority of American credit cards don't have pin codes\passwords that are required. Also, if you have chance – get cards with electronic chips in them, that way you can be sure they'll be accepted almost everywhere.

Personal spending habits and preferences will determine just how much money one should carry on a daily basis. However, we don't recommend having more cash than you are going to spend on that particular day. Keep in mind, you can pay with a card almost everywhere.

For the latest exchange rates and conversion tables, students should consult the following web sites:
www.oanda.com
www.xe.com

ADAPTORS AND CONVERTERS

Not only is the voltage for electronics different in Russia than in the USA, but the physical outlets are different as well. Adaptors are use to physically fit your plug into the outlet without changes in current. A converter, however, can increase or decrease the voltage for the current that passes between your device and the outlet. Having at least one adaptor is an absolute must when travelling to Russia. Most major electronics can be used at either 120V (USA) or 220V (Russia). Students should check every device they are planning to use while abroad to determine if a converter is needed.

LEISURE TIME IN MOSCOW

As any big city, Moscow offers literally thousands of ways to spend your free time. The number of museums, theatres, exhibitions, movie theatres, galleries and art spaces is countless. Please, keep in mind that most foreign movies are dubbed in Russian, so if you want to watch, say, the original version of a new American movie, check out movie theatres like "35 mm" and such.

Most theatres and concerts require buying tickets in advance; it can be easily done with a credit\debit card using websites like ponominalu.ru, ticketland.ru, bigbilet.ru etc.

Information about the events that are worth your time can be found at afisha.ru and similar websites. Check out websites like the-village.ru for restaurants reviews. Also, people in Russia do not use Yelp.

If you are interested in any sort of activities including something not so common (like rock climbing, for instance) – just ask Grint staff and we will most likely find something for you.

RELIGION

Russia is primarily an Orthodox country with churches, cathedrals and chapels scattered all over the country, many of which date from the Middle Ages. Being a multicultural state, Russia allows for complete religious freedom. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish and other services are available in Moscow.

SPORTS

Russians go crazy about sports, it's one of the most essential things in most people's lives. The most popular kinds are football (soccer) and hockey, although boxing, volleyball, basketball and some others are popular as well. Depending on the season you can watch our national/local teams play, the tickets are very easy to get and fairly priced.

As for the sports facilities on campus, there are lots of ways to exercise. We have a gym and a swimming pool that you can access with a single pass that costs about 2500 rubles/month. On campus there are also: a running track, a basketball court, various crossbars etc. Also, when the weather is nice, you can always run on campus.

COMMUNICATION

We strongly encourage American students to check in advance if their phones are locked for their carriers. If they are and if they can't be unlocked, then a student usually buys a cheap (about 1000 rubles) phone and a SIM card with a plan (about 500 rubles). That provides with about 400 minutes of calls and countless text messages for a month. If a phone is unlocked, a student buys just a SIM card with a plan that has a certain amount of data on it. That is always preferable, because data gives an opportunity to use maps and other useful apps that require Internet access.

The best way to call your parents\relatives in the US is Skype. Of course, you can use your Russian phone number, but that way you will spend all your money almost immediately.

Packages usually take about 3 weeks to ship both ways. Letters are usually delivered to the school doorstep, whereas packages have to be picked up from the local post office located about 15 minutes away from our campus.

DRUGS

Grint Center for Education and Culture upholds Russian law in regard to drugs. If students are suspected of illegal drug use, the center will not be able to help them in any way and they will be asked to leave the country/program immediately The strictness of these laws and the severity of the sentence given to those breaking the laws, is well-known. Students who want precise information on the laws governing use of drugs in Russia are advised to contact the American Embassy in Moscow.

MAIL

It is recommended that all students receive their mail at the Grint office.. Mail should be addressed as follows and should be sent as "air mail":

Student's Name
Russia, Moscow, 111395, Yunosty str., 5/1, block 6 , of. 35

Please, do not state your dorm building and room number in the address, as it will increase the chance of your package getting lost. You will most like have to pick it up from the post office located in the campus area, our student coordinator will gladly show it to you and help with any possible formalities.



DO's and DONT's in Russia
We have all heard that "When in Rome do as the Romans do". That advice is equally appropriate when visiting the Russian Federation so it is important to know a little about what the do's and don'ts that Russians will expect of you. This paper describes some of them. In it, I draw on more than a decade of continuous travel between the US and Russia and the suggestions I make are illustrated and confirmed by the many American and Russian students I have been privileged to have in my classes.

Of particular interest to anyone who plans to go to Russia would be some ideas of American students whom I taught at the Grint Center of Education in Moscow. These were students majoring in International Affairs, Russian Literature or the Russian Language, who came to Moscow from different US universities. They were much more prepared to come to Russia to live for a semester of study abroad at the Grint Center than regular American tourists who visit Russia for several days or read major American newspapers dealing with Foreign affairs.

While comparing Russia and the US during the course, the students, well prepared, studied a lot and not only from books. Having an opportunity to be "in the field," they could experience Russian life (not only in Moscow) and make their own observations which inevitably led them to develop their own stereotypes. Although students traveled to different places during a semester, their main port to Russia was Moscow, and, just as every American knows that New York is not all America, Moscow is not all Russia. Traveling to Moscow requires determination, flexibility, an open mind, and plenty of patience. The capital of Russia is not as safe as it was back in the days of the Soviets but, a trip to Moscow presents not more risk than traveling in a major city in the US; there are many things to learn in this world class metropolis.

During the course, I asked my students to write recommendation letters to those American students who would be coming to Russia after them. All of the students' ideas are interesting and for this article I have selected items that I could put in the context of "what to do and not to do if you go to study in Moscow". These are just tidbits of information that my American students, having lived in Russia for some time, think that other students should know in advance. I hope you find them valuable.

Note that when traveling abroad you should naturally check with the government's periodically posted advisements concerning Russia in general. However, that simply cannot tell a student everything that he or she needs to know.

DO's:

BASICS:

• Bring US dollars, but only in new or relatively new bills or they won't be accepted for exchange. It is better to have bills in denominations of more than $20.You can change them in most banks, just look for the sign outside the building and watch the rates against the ruble. It is a good idea to bring an ATM/Debit card to withdraw extra amounts of cash, just be cautious of the ATM you use.

• Respect the metro. The incredible subway system in Moscow can truly be an inexpensive and convenient blessing. However, the metro can also be the set of a pickpocket of fight. Do not flash money in the metro. Keep your metro pass separate. Don't speak loudly or make a fool of yourself on the metro. It is considered rude, and it will just make Russians think less of Americans.

• Watch out for your documents. Some will say always carry your passport and visa. Others will disagree. Speak to your host institution on the subject. But regardless, try to get an official copy of your passport and visa and always show that before showing the original. Be sure you have Xeroxes of your passport and Xeroxes - take several. An official "Studenchesky Bilyet" or student card, will often suffice with the local enforcement. When going out, leave your passport and any cards (credit, insurance, ID, etc.) that you won't need in a safe place. If you are robbed while out on the street you will have not lost everything.

• Take some passport/size photos with you - these can be useful for getting a propusk, etc.

• Always have a back up. Try to have a back up plan for everything. Have extra money hidden on you and in your room for emergencies; bribes are a reality. Have a back up of local and international cards. That way you can always make a phone call. If you are at a bar late, save a little cash. In case you miss the last subway (it works till 1am), you will need to take a taxi. Always have important telephone numbers with you. You never know when you will have an emergency.

• America uses 110, Russia 220+. If you plan on packing electronic components, bring the necessary adaptor as most homes have no need of them. Hair dryers need at least 1600 wattage converters.

• In the right situation do not be shy. In class, in the dorm, and in other safe social situations do not be afraid of making mistakes while trying out your Russian tongue. Most Russians are just happy that you are trying and will help as much as possible. Try to make Russian friends at school, through your family, and during inter-program excursions. Part of being here is learning how Russians behave between themselves. The more you talk with native speakers, the more you will force yourself to learn. You will learn a lot just by listening to the way they speak, in addition to how they speak. Be open to meeting all the Russians you can. Most Russians are truly warm and hospitable despite their normal cold and pessimistic attitudes on the street.

• When in doubt, ask. Very often Americans assume that if something is wrong, someone will let you know. Russians often assume you know what they want. This creates a discrepancy. Ask about house rules when you arrive. If you do not know how to do something, simply ask someone. Additionally, Russians show politeness by being vague and beating around the bush. If you are politely insistent, eventually, they will figure out that you really don't know and will enlighten you.

• Always use "vi" with Russians whom you do not know, even if they are the same age. Wait for the Russians to initiate using "ti" with you.


Behavior (the unwritten codes):


• Boys should be aware that in Russia, men still pay the bill on dates.

If you are wearing gloves, take them off when you shake hands.

• Shoes: bear in mind that you will be walking a lot. I mean a lot! Make sure that when you buy shoes, they are built for comfort. That is not all; most Russians only wear dark colors of shoes. Men almost always wear black. If you have space, bring your own house shoes. When you visit a typical home, you will be asked to remove your shoes and wear house shoes. So buy shoes that can be easily taken off and on, and have some nice shoes handy.

• Clothes: Pack dressier clothes than you normally would. Russian students get really dressed up for class (expect to see young men in full suits walking around your campus). Russians, especially women, pay attention to their appearance both at the market and at the club. Looking too casual identifies you as a tourist. Bring a long, black coat if you are traveling to Moscow in winter. It will keep you warmer than a hip-length parka, and you will blend in.

• Take tissues and liquid soap with you if you are expecting to use a bathroom somewhere out. Most public restrooms are not equipped with these basic items.

• Bring a gift if visiting someone's apartment; chocolates or flowers (an odd number over 2 flowers and not yellow) are a good suggestion. (Even number of flowers is good at funerals only.)

• Ask Russians to take you shopping. People at the markets raise the prices when they see foreigners.

• Know that most young people have studied English and can help you if you get in a bind.

• Be polite to the people who you see everyday like security guards, etc. A little gift can grant you many privileges.

• Have some tea and sweets on hand. You never know when your Russian friends may pop in unexpectedly. Tea and sweets are a tradition to have for guests.

• Be hospitable: your friends will be offended if you do not invite them to be your guests. Try to see Russians at home and when invited expect to have a several course meal and drinks.

• Date Russians - it's a pleasant cultural experience. Your speaking skills will improve.


DON'TS:


• Do not assume that everybody in Russia is ethnically Russian. There are more than 100 ethnic groups in Russia. When talking to
Russians it is appropriate to ask about their "nationality" and their customs and traditions different from the Russian.

• Don't take a lot of your money in Traveler's Checks. It can be a pain to find a place to cash them, and when you do, they will take at least 10% of what it is worth. You can literally lose hundreds of dollars just through commission.

• Don't use ATM's in the metro or on the street. There are many scandals with cards and pin numbers being stolen with ATM's at these locations. Use the ones in the lobbies of hotels that cater to western businessmen where the ATM's are usually guarded and uncorrupted.

• Don't take a taxi alone at night. Avoid a car if it has anyone besides a driver. Know where you are going and sound sure of yourself when negotiating a price with the driver.

• Don't be afraid to decline vodka. You won't offend anyone. Just have a religious or health excuse ready. If you do drink with Russians, know that the bottle is usually drunk until it is empty.

• Don't be afraid to try new food, customs, words or ask for help.

• Don't expect people to smile at you. It is not customary in Russia, especially in big cities, to talk or smile at strangers, so don't interpret this behavior as coldness or unfriendliness.

• Don't expect everyone you meet with to be on time. Russians have different idea of timing and it is clear that in general time is a much cherished value among Americans.

• Don't walk around alone at night.

• Don't expect to eat different food in the cafeteria.

• Don't stay in the dorm a lot. Your time in Russia will fly a lot faster than you think.

• Don't expect American standards in public places like restrooms.

• Do not put your feet on the tables. This will support Russian stereotypes about Americans being "uncultural".

• Do not wear caps in the class rooms. This is unaccepted behavior at schools and any professor or teacher will be offended.

• Do not eat in classrooms - that is unaccepted behavior.

• Do not expect to pay a visit to a friend "for a half an hour". If you are invited to someone's house and sit down to lunch or dinner this is a lengthy process.

• Do not hesitate to open your soul to Russians. You will be considered a real friend. Russians don't have a developed bank system yet. They don't know about Americans living on loans. They will find you to be very rich when they learn that your parents own a house, several cars and you are a student of a university. Be open talking about your finances. This will be very educational for them.

• don't be scared by anybody's warning! Just realize that this is not the US! You are studying abroad and have therefore already elevated yourself to the minority of students. Take full advantage of the situation and learn by having fun.

Moscow has numerous coffee shops, concert halls, dance halls, theaters and other forms of entertainment. If you are willing to look, you will always find something interesting to do. You can always ask someone in your host family or one of your new Russian friends to lead the way!

My students agreed to let me publish ideas and statements they made for the sake of future Americans who will come to study in Russia. I express my gratitude and appreciation of these students who were able to understand and love Russia, especially: Michael Johnson, Rachel Purkett, Nick Butler, Jane Janosky, Latta Anthony, Melissa Mc Crimmon, Stephanie Curbo, Wade Stormer, and many others who were my students in Moscow at the Grint Institute.

Please feel free to send us your comments what should be added or excluded. We are always happy for your feedback! Email: info@grint.ru

The author, Olga Zatsepina, PH.D, is an Associate Professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University (Faculty of Foreign Languages) and has been teaching an intercultural communication course "Cultural Diversity of the Modern World" for Russian and American students for the last 9 years at different institutions of Moscow and New York. (www.culturelinks.net).

Safety and responsibility in Study Abroad
The following information has been adapted from the NAFSA website (
http://www.nafsa.org/resourcelibrary/default.aspx?id=16949)

Because the health and safety of study abroad participants are primary concerns, these statements of good practice have been developed to provide guidance to institutions, participants (including faculty and staff), and parents/guardians/families. These statements are intended to be aspirational in nature.

They address issues that merit attention and thoughtful consideration by everyone involved with study abroad. They are intentionally general; they are not intended to account for all the many variations in study abroad programs and actual health, safety, and security cases that will inevitably occur. In dealing with any specific situation, those responsible must also rely upon their collective experience and judgment while considering their specific circumstances.

1. Responsibilities of Program Sponsors:

The term "sponsors" refers to all the entities that together develop, offer, and administer study abroad programs. Sponsors include sending institutions, host institutions, program administrators, and placement organizations.

The use of letters is provided for ease of reference only and does not imply priority. Program sponsors should:

A. Conduct periodic assessments of health and safety conditions for their programs, and

develop and maintain emergency preparedness processes and a crisis response plan.

B. Provide health and safety information for prospective participants so that they and their

parents/guardians/families can make informed decisions concerning preparation,

participation, and behavior while on the program.

C. Provide information concerning aspects of home campus services and conditions that

cannot be replicated at overseas locations.

D. Provide orientation to participants prior to the program and as needed on site, which

includes information on safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious

conditions in the host country. In addition to dealing with health and safety issues, the

orientation should address potential health and safety risks, and appropriate emergency response measures.

E. Consider health and safety issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual's

participation in a study abroad program.

F. Determining criteria for an individual's removal from an overseas program taking into

account participant behavior, health, and safety factors.



G. Require that participants be insured. Either provide health and travel accident (emergency

evacuation, repatriation) insurance to participants or provide information about how to obtain

such coverage.

H. Conduct inquiries regarding the potential health, safety, and security risks of the local

environment of the program, including program-sponsored accommodation, events,

excursions, and other activities, prior to the program. Monitor possible changes in country

conditions. Provide information about changes and advise

participants and their parents/guardians/families as needed.

I. Conduct appropriate inquiry regarding available medical and professional services. Provide

information about these services for participants and their parents/guardians/families, and

help participants obtain the services they may need.

J. Develop codes of conduct for their programs; communicate codes of conduct and the

consequences of noncompliance to participants. Take appropriate action when aware that

participants are in violation.

K. In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant health and safety

circumstances, maintain good communication among all program sponsors and others who

need to know.

L. In the participant screening process, consider factors such as disciplinary history that may

impact on the safety of the individual or the group.

M. Provide information for participants and their parents/guardians/families regarding when

and where the sponsor's responsibility ends and the range of aspects of participants' overseas

experiences that are beyond the sponsor's control.

In particular, program sponsors generally:

A. Cannot guarantee or assure the safety and/or security of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad environments.

B. Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of participants.

C. Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous, or unwise activities.

D. Cannot assure that U.S. standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings, or provide or pay for legal representation for participants.

E. Cannot assume responsibility for actions or for events that are not part of the program, nor for those that are beyond the control of the sponsor and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.

F. Cannot assure that home-country cultural values and norms will apply in the host country.

2. Responsibilities of Participants:

In study abroad, as in other settings, participants can have a major impact on their own health and safety through the decisions they make before and during their program and by their day-to-day choices and behaviors.

Participants should:

A. Assume responsibility for all the elements necessary for their personal preparation for the program and participate fully in orientations.

B. Read and carefully consider all materials issued by the sponsor that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in the host country(ies).

C. Conduct their own research on the country(ies) they plan to visit with particular emphasis on health and safety concerns, as well as the social, cultural, and political situations.

D. Consider their physical and mental health, and other personal circumstances when applying for or accepting a place in a program, and make available to the sponsor accurate and complete physical and mental health information and any other personal data that is necessary in planning for a safe and healthy study abroad experience.

E. Obtain and maintain appropriate insurance coverage and abide by any conditions imposed by the carriers.

F. Inform parents/guardians/families and any others who may need to know about their participation in the study abroad program, provide them with emergency contact information, and keep them informed of their whereabouts and activities.

G. Understand and comply with the terms of participation, codes of conduct, and emergency procedures of the program.

H. Be aware of local conditions and customs that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices and decisions. Promptly express any health or safety concerns to the program staff or other appropriate individuals before and/or during the program.

I. Accept responsibility for their own decisions and actions.

J. Obey host-country laws.

K. Behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well-being of others, and encourage others to behave in a similar manner.

L. Avoid illegal drugs and excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol.

M. Follow the program policies for keeping program staff informed of their whereabouts and well-being.

N. Become familiar with the procedures for obtaining emergency health and legal system services in the host county.

3. Recommendations to Parents/Guardians/Families:

In study abroad, as in other settings, parents, guardians, and families can play an important role in the health and safety of participants by helping them make decisions and by influencing their behavior overseas.

Parents/guardians/families should:

A. Be informed about and involved in the decision of the participant to enroll in a particular program.

B. Obtain and carefully evaluate participant program materials, as well as related health, safety, and security information.

C. Discuss with the participant any of his/her travel plans and activities that may be independent of the study abroad program.

D. Engage the participant in a thorough discussion of safety and behavior issues, insurance needs, and emergency procedures related to living abroad.

E. Be responsive to requests from the program sponsor for information regarding the participant.

F. Keep in touch with the participant.

G. Be aware that the participant rather than the program may most appropriately provide some information.