Staying Safe Abroad

Over the past months the AIFS and Global Experiences health and safety task force has been working with our onsite staff, insurance and global risk management resources and partner universities abroad to develop a flexible plan which reflects ever-changing conditions with a view to programming for Spring 2021 and beyond. As many of us have learned there is not one go-to source of information. Gathering information from the multiple sources below we feel will allow us to make sound and timely decisions.

Our reopening planning for each of our programs takes 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

GE / AIFS Response to COVID-19

AIFS and GE offer 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) How will participants receive information regarding COVID-19 policies pre-departure?

Participants on our programs receive detailed pre-departure information and work with our experienced team as they plan for their time abroad to ensure that they are well prepared for their study abroad or intern experience and make informed decisions.  This includes the latest COVID-19 information for their chosen destination.

2) How will COVID-19 protocols impact orientations?

Content contained in the Orientation specific to COVID-19:

  • On arrival, participants take part in a detailed orientation program with their local staff. This information covers issues such as safety and security, how to access healthcare services including counseling, updates on COVID-19 regulations as well as general program and location information. 
  • Staff also stress the importance of students taking responsibility for their own health and welfare during these briefings and in the provided materials. The importance of good hygiene, rest, and good nutrition as well as following all current public health advice, avoiding crowded areas, social distancing, wearing of PPE, etc. are covered. 
  • AIFS/GE have amended their student code of conduct to include wording regarding COVID-19, appropriate behavior, and following local regulations and guidelines.

Delivery of Orientations on-location:

  • All orientations will take place in spaces large enough to allow social distancing or even outside if the location allows or
  • Will occur virtually allowing students to participate from their accommodation

3) How will COVID-19 protocols impact accommodation?

All program fees include housing. This can be an apartment, student residence, or homestay depending on the location. We are working closely with all of our housing providers to gather information as to what their COVID-19 planning is for Spring 2021. This will include measures such as: 

  • Deep cleaning accommodation prior to arrival 
  • Plans for self-isolation if required 
  • Limits on occupancy numbers 
  • Roommate agreements and information on successful accommodation sharing 
  • Homestay agreements 
  • Use of PPE in common areas 
  • Options to upgrade to a single room for a fee where available (some locations are already single occupancy accommodation as standard) 
  • Additional training and orientations for homestay hosts 
  • Review of homestays to avoid using hosts that fall into the category of vulnerable people or key workers.

4) How do AIFS and GE offer on-site support?

All programs have experienced local support staff who receive training on policies and procedures, health and safety resources, medical and emergency protocols.  Staff are also available 24/7 through a dedicated emergency phone line.  

Onsite staff collaborates with other colleges and universities through local and regional associations and academic networks to share best practices on a variety of issues including health and safety. 

Local medical support: 

All students have CISI medical insurance included in their program fee (see section on insurance).  CISI insurance covers testing for COVID-19 and any subsequent treatment if required. Our local staff have strong contacts with the local medical community and English-speaking medical professionals if needed.

5) What should I know about academic facilities and courses?

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, 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. 

Online options: 

If face-to-face classes need to be suspended for any reason we will be able to continue with a virtual delivery model so that students can successfully complete their studies.

6) What should I know about internships?

If your program is internship based or has an internship component, you will need to pay attention to all in-country health and legal considerations. Guidance on social distancing, use of PPE, and other precautions will be outlined by your employer and will be necessary for you to follow. 

GE will be placing students with employers who are spending most of the workweek in the office as this maximizes the internship experience. However, circumstances may dictate that the student be asked to work virtually. If this occurs the student and on-location GE staff member will determine the length of time this is a viable option, what a hybrid schedule could look like, and come up with a plan for internship success.

It is very important that the student and employer work together to ensure the safety of all in the company environment. Violation of COVID preventative procedures set out by the employer will be considered violations of GE’s code of conduct.

7) What should I know about cultural activities and excursions?

All programs offer a cultural calendar of weekly activities and events. They may include both typical tourist attractions and lesser-known visits which take advantage of the expert knowledge of our local staff and give students a more authentic and insightful view of their program location.     

We will review all activities to make sure that they can be conducted with social distancing in mind and adapted if required, such as a cooking class being a smaller group and no sharing of food or equipment allowed. Strong consideration will be given to having outdoor-based activities. If using private transportation buses will be deep cleaned before use and hand sanitizer will be available, and if using public transport the use of PPE as appropriate will be enforced.  Local recommendations will be followed such as pre-booking, reduced group sizes, wearing of PPE, etc.   

For overnight excursions, housing options will be chosen according to suitability and visits reviewed.

Excursions outside the host country may be suspended in certain situations depending on local conditions and entry clearance. An alternative in-country excursion will then be offered.

8) What will local transportation be like?

Some students will be able to access their classrooms/internship and accommodation on foot but for many, they will need to take public transportation.  As part of the orientation program, local staff will give students advice on the transportation options open to them and guidance on using PPE if necessary.

9) What are other resources I should access?

AIFS staff also worked with our VP of Diversity and Alumni Relations to deliver ‘Navigating Uncertainty: Resources for Thoughtfully Processing Your Time Abroad’ which was developed to help students unpack the full experience they had and provide resources as they continue their return. This program was selected as the winner of the Innovation in Alumni Engagement category for the 2020 GoAbroad .com innovation Awards and this guide and companion video can be found on the welcome back section of our alumni website.

AIFS has also developed a series of webinars focusing on health and safety, diversity, alumni engagement, sessions with our Resident Directors and support services for our university partners. Please use this link to register for upcoming sessions and to view the subjects we have covered.

10) Does the insurance included in the GE program cover COVID-19?

All interns enrolled in the GE program are covered by our partner Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI.) They have posted a series of COVID-19 related FAQs on their page.

Interns may request a copy of the insurance policy at any time from their GE Program Advisor.

Safety Update: Coronavirus

Effective January 4, Global Experiences made the decision to close all Spring 2021 on-location programs. Alternatively, we are able to offer a virtual, remote-based, online alternative through our GE Virtuoso Virtual International Internships program.

Summer 2021 programs are running on-site as planned.

For questions on our cancelation policy, please visit the Polices and Updates page.

If you have questions regarding your program, policies in place, or program updates, please call 877-432-2762, directly email your Admissions Counselor / Program Advisor, or

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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