Pre-Departure and On-Site Orientations

As the Program Director, you are responsible for the content and facilitation of the pre-departure orientation for your program. A representative of the OIE will be present at the orientation to provide additional support and information regarding billing and registration, travel safety and HTH (URI supplemental insurance).

Below are suggested topics for you to cover during your pre-departure orientation:


  • Academic expectations and workload (amount of course before, during and after program).
  • Are there books that need to be purchased for the course?
  • What work (readings, response papers) needs to be completed prior to departure, if any.
  • Describe the layout of a typical day (hours in class, excursions, free time, etc).

Local Conditions

  • Address what participants can expect from the local environment:
    • Local environmental conditions
    • Potential safety risks
    • Local customs and cultural and culinary differences
    • Discuss destination country’s laws and group expectations regarding alcohol and other drug use
  • Outline your expectations regarding student behavior during and outside of organized program activities. This is of particular importance as your students may have their own agenda when participating in your program.


  • Suggest a packing list for the program. Left on their own, students may over-pack or travel with the wrong gear.
  • Instructions regarding airport pick-up on arrival day and transportation to airport on departure day.
  • Provide each participant with your contact information and travel itinerary (airline, flight number, date/time scheduled to arrive) if the group is not traveling together.
  • Provide each participant with the ultimate destination for the group and explicit directions on how to get there (in English and in the local language) if a participant does not make his or her flight.
  • Encourage students to carry a copy of the first page of their passport, separate from their passport.

Health and Safety

  • Encourage participants to visit the Center for Disease Control website,, for travel medical advice.
  • Discuss inoculations that may be required for your destination.
  • Provide each participant with HTH coverage information.

Note: The Office of International Education will register all staff and program participants with the U.S. Embassy at least 7 days prior to departure.

In-Program Protocol

During the Study Abroad Program, all Program Directors must:

Communicate with the OIE

  • Notify OIE promptly of any concerns, inappropriate student behavior or emergencies, and document in writing the steps taken to respond.
  • Notify OIE of any unexpected itinerary changes.
  • Upon arrival in country, notify OIE that all participants have arrived safely; halfway through the program, check-in to apprise them of status.
  • Keep apprised of local news and events.
  • In the event of any adverse event (natural disaster, terror attack) that does or does not directly affect the group, but could generate international media coverage, e-mail and/or call the OIE, to inform them of participants’ status.
  • Submit an incident report if an event occurs resulting in significant injury or crime, or if instructed by the Director of OIE (Appendix C).

Student Behavior

  • Be alert to participant fatigue, digestive ailments, dehydration, culture shock, jet lag, and symptoms of other illnesses; procure appropriate medical attention when necessary.
  • Note any risky student behavior, and discuss with student as appropriate, noting potential consequences; document conversations.

Safety Preparedness

  • Designate a meeting place- and a backup meeting place if the first is inaccessible- in the event of a large-scale emergency. A written address, phone number and directions should be in the local language as well as in English.
  • Address what a participant should do if he/she has separated from the group.
  • Have the local emergency phone numbers and nearest US consulate information.
  • Design evacuation plans for each location visited.
  • Carry a roster that includes the following for every participant: Participant name, passport number, emergency contact name and phone number, birth date, participant health insurance information, health and allergy information, and medications.
  • Carry the HTH cards at all times.
  • Have a first aid kit on hand.
  • Know the location of the nearest immediate emergency medical service and the phone numbers for emergency medical service and police at each stop in the trip itinerary

Cultural Awareness

  • Upon arrival in country, and in each new location that presents potentially different safety concerns, hold a group meeting to:
    • Review country- or region-specific health, safety and security concerns
    • Review general safety measures (from pre-departure orientation)
    • Review medical and counseling sites
    • Review students’ responsibilities regarding their own personal safety and health
    • Review important cross-cultural issues that may impact health, safety or security
  • Upon arrival in country, encourage students to contact their parents or other family members to let them know they’ve arrived


Winter J Term: May 1, 2016
Spring Break: May 1, 2016
Summer Term: May 1, 2016
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