Staying Safe Abroad

The AIFS Abroad Team continues to work with our onsite staff, insurance, and global risk management resources, and partner universities abroad to implement and modify a flexible plan which reflects the ever-changing realities of running a program in a pandemic. We have learned a lot since the onset COVID-19 allowing us to successfully have students on an international program. We continue to gather information from multiple sources below and will continue to make sound and timely decisions.

Our summer 2021 and beyond planning for each of our programs take into account factors such as:

  • The current level of U.S. State Department travel advisory for each country
  • Each individual country’s current entry status and where necessary their quarantine rules
  • World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control guidance
  • Current levels of COVID-19 transmission within that country / region
  • Local government rules regarding social distancing, the use of PPE, and gatherings
  • Each on-location partner university’s plan for the delivery of course onsite and their ability to switch to a virtual delivery model should the need arise
  • Housing options in each site and related COVID-19 planning
  • The delivery of support services including orientation, social and cultural programming

We will also continue to update our Policies and Updates page so you can quickly and easily see information about 2021 programming, including our cancelation and withdrawal policies. As an organization, we strive to be clear and constant with our communication so that students, parents, and our university colleagues feel confident in AIFS/GE programming.

Policies and Updates for 2021 Programs

AIFS Abroad Response to COVID-19

AIFS Abroad delivers programs in many locations around the globe. In all of these locations we will be working closely with our local representatives, local authorities, consular partners and university partners to make sure we are following the most up to date guidelines and procedures for COVID-19. Below you'll find answers to some key questions for our health and safety review and practices.

1) Is self-isolation or testing required by the governments of any of your host countries? If so, how will you support students during a self-isolation period, or how will you ensure that they are tested?

Countries requiring self-isolation/proof of negative test is an ever-changing list.

Ensuring that students are tested before departure will be done by comprehensive pre-departure advising and in collaboration with our students who have a due-diligence to ensure they have done everything necessary to be eligible to travel. As COVID protocols continue to be developed by airlines and governments we will be amending our policies and advising our students accordingly.

Should students be required by host country's mandate to quarantine upon arrival, then that will be a mandatory requirement to our program. Failure to adhere to quarantine protocols will result in expulsion from the program. AIFS Abroad will work with a variety of housing providers to ensure the health and well-being of our participants will be looked after. This could be from daily check-ins, meal delivery, etc.

2) How will you operate your housing during COVID-19?

AIFS Abroad uses a variety of housing options for students around the world. This could be student residences, apartments, hotels, and homestays. Please indicate which types of student accommodation your organization will be using in 2021:

We are focusing our accommodation to be single occupancy but in some locations, this is not possible. In locations where we use Student Residences / Apartment buildings, we will be following their visitor restriction policies.

All host families receive additional training regarding COVID protocols for their local area. If someone in the house tests positive for COVID-19 then the appropriate officials will be contacted and the correct quarantine steps put in place. If the person is very ill then, of course, they will go straight to the hospital. If they are well enough to stay at home they will be quarantined as well as other family members as required by the authorities. If needed we have access to additional accommodation so students can quarantine in private rooms if needed.

3) Please describe how student housing and dining would be managed if a student tested positive for COVID-19 and had to self-isolate.

Students testing positive for COVID would be subject to immediate quarantine in their accommodation or in separate accommodation if required.

Meals/groceries would be arranged to be delivered in a safe and secure manner.

4) What COVID-specific protocols have you put in place for academic spaces and what happens to my academic program if on-location delivery is suspended?

We work closely with our partner universities in each location who in turn are following all local guidelines so that students can safely attend class. These guidelines include practices such as caps on class size to allow for social distancing, the spacing of desks to comply with current requirements, cleaning of classrooms regularly and high traffic areas, access to hand sanitizer at entrances, implementing one-way systems where practical, and enforcing mask-wearing where obligatory. In our own facilities, we will follow the same guidelines as required locally. These may change as local circumstances dictate.

If face-to-face classes need to be suspended for any reason we will be able to continue with a virtual delivery model allowing participants to finish the academic portion of the program (thereby not losing progress towards degree completion).

5) What social distancing protocols do you have and will you be providing PPD or sanitizing supplies?

Much of our physical distancing protocols are being developed according to the governmental guidelines in each country and with our institutional and employer partners. This takes into account how many students are allowed in a classroom, how many individuals constitute a “pod” for social events/outings, how many participants can be in accommodations, how many individuals are allowed at a specific host company, etc.

Students should come prepared with enough masks to safely get through the first few weeks of their program. After students become familiar with their surroundings they will be able to communicate with on-site staff to organize additional PPE / sanitizing supplies as needed.

6) How are you addressing the “proof of negative test” as it relates to entering into the host country or return to the US?

We are constantly monitoring the entry regulations for our countries which are fluid and change often. In all cases, we would defer to local regulations. These are legal requirements, not imposed by AIFS. Some of our countries have been requesting the negative test result as an entry requirement for some time although the U.S. only recently posted the request itself, so we have been monitoring and will communicate all requirements to our students.

7) Will AIFS require participants to get a vaccine?

AIFS Abroad will be strongly recommending vaccinations for our Summer 2021 participants and requiring them for our Fall 2021 participants and beyond. We will continue to monitor the information from our host countries and advise participants as entry protocol changes.

Vaccinations

As vaccinations continue around the world, evidence collected by a variety of health organizations indicates that fully vaccinated people are less likely to be infected without showing symptoms and therefore potentially less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others.

In an effort to keep our participants, staff, and host communities safe, AIFS Abroad will be strongly recommending vaccinations for our Summer 2021 participants and requiring them for all Fall 2021 participants and beyond. We will continue to monitor the information from our host countries and advise participants as entry protocols change. Recent news suggests that some countries may be opening to fully vaccinated individuals to travel as tourists this summer, removing the need for quarantine on arrival, and requiring proof of vaccination for entry.

Safety Abroad

We understand that in an increasingly complex world it is important to be aware and prepared for the risks and rewards of traveling abroad. Global Experiences is committed to the safety of our students while participating on one of our programs and has developed tested systems to help manage a wide range of scenarios in each of our program locations. In 2014 Global Experiences introduced our "Blue Book" health and safety training manual that was developed in partnership with several trusted university partners, including Arizona State University. This book and scenario based training is required by all GE staff and provides clear situational based best practices to help ensure the best outcomes for all stakeholders.

As a member in the internationally recognized organization, NAFSA Association for International Educators, Global Experiences complies with NAFSA’s Resources for Health and Safety in Education Abroad. In addition, we understand that moving to a new city or country is an exciting challenge that takes adaptation to be successful. For this reason, we offer many of our events during the early stages of the program to increase contact with staff, encourage socialization and bonding as a group, and build familiarity with the host city.

Health and Safety always starts with being prepared and so all our programs include 24/7 local emergency support on location, comprehensive travel and medical insurance, and intensive pre-departure training to help participants be ready to the challenge of living in a new location. There are many types of situations that can arise while interning abroad and our team has over 15 years worth of experience to help provide quick and experienced support to each of our participants as needed, whether that be finding the right medical care or navigating security concerns. Our program locations are managed by our experienced US based team based in Annapolis, Maryland, that is constantly monitoring any global issues that may impact the safety of our students on locations. It is our head office that also keeps our university partners and parents informed should issues arise during a program.

The information we act upon is based on the recommendations from the U.S. Department of State’s travel warnings, local law enforcement in our overseas destinations, NAFSA, NACE and the World Health Organization.

Safety Tips

  • Emergency Contacts – Each intern is required have an emergency contact listed on their application whom Global Experiences can notify in case of emergencies. It is equally as important that each intern keep their contact information updated and have the on-site Location Coordinator’s contact information on-hand.
  • Stay Updated – We encourage our participants to read the local and world news to stay informed about potential safety concerns and travel alerts in their host country. Location Coordinators keep interns updated on any information that may affect their welfare.
  • Keep Copies of Travel Documents – We advise participants to make a copy of their passport and keep it on their person while leaving their hard copy passport in a safe place in their accommodations. Interns should also keep travel and medical insurance information with them.
  • Be Aware – We encourage participants to travel in pairs or in groups at night and to familiarize themselves with a variety of ways to travel around their new city, including public transport, taxi's and Uber and walking along well traveled routes. 
  • Be Smart – Interns are given extensive pre-departure information about their host city and safety procedures, but it is up to each individual to make smart choices such as learning local laws and customs, telling others where they are going, avoiding walking alone at night, and keeping valuable items in safe places.

Standards of Behavior and Personal Responsibility


All Global Experiences participants are over the age of 18 and are legally responsible for their own behavior while abroad. We regard the opportunity to live in a new city as a privilege that also comes with the responsibility of being a good representative of your home country, your university and yourself. To ensure the personal safety of all participants on our programs Global Experiences has set forth standards of behavior that we expect interns to uphold while participating in our programs, failure to adhere to these standards may result in removal from the program. These can be found in our terms and conditions which all participants sign as a requirement of their application.

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