LET’S TALK ABOUT SAFETY:
Studying and interning abroad are both exciting experiences that push the boundaries of what students think they’re capable of, while developing confidence along their journey. Yet within this exhilarating and uncharted territory, it’s always comforting to know that with PINC International, we provide our students with guidance throughout the entire process. Our top priority is making sure our students are knowledgeable of the resources available to them before and after the program, while also providing support to our students in any way we can.
First things first, it’s important to understand that safety and precaution starts before students even step one foot onto the plane to Spain:
Our goal is to avoid any stress or confusion when it comes to preparing to travel abroad. We are always available through email, chat, or text message to answer any questions that arise during the planning process. For a smooth transition into our programs, as soon as the deposit is finalized we immediately add students to a WhatsApp group with other members of the program. There, students have the opportunity to introduce themselves, connect with fellow classmates, and have a safe space for communication. We also host a pre-departure orientation between students and directors of the program to ensure money and credit cards are safeguarded, and address how to stay safe and informed during their abroad program. In addition, we automatically enroll each participant in the STEP Program.
STEP, also known as the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), is a free service provided for by the U.S. Department of State-Bureau of Consular Affairs, that notifies U.S. citizens traveling abroad the most current safety and security information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Within STEP, students stay informed on the latest updates from the country’s Travel Advisory and receive alerts regarding the safety and security of travelers, courtesy of the U.S. Embassy. Even more importantly, when enrolled within STEP, the information students provide to the program enables the U.S. embassy or consulate to immediately contact students in the case of an emergency situation. Furthermore, while during an emergency situation, STEP is able to provide family and friends back home important information on a student’s whereabouts if there are any difficulties in reaching the student.
Upon arriving onto Spanish soil, PINC coordinators are automatically by the students’ side to warmly welcome them into their new “home.” Most importantly, before departing from the airport, we make sure that each student has touched base with their families back home, before heading to the students’ residence. Our residences are centrally located in Barcelona and Madrid, with constant foot traffic, regular police patrols, and plenty of tourist attractions. Students are given their own privacy with personal rooms and a lock and key.
As an introduction to the program, group orientation is mandatory upon arrival, where PINC Coordinators brief students on how to stay safe, informed, and aware of their external surroundings at all times. Bags, purses, and even pockets are encouraged to be under constant surveillance, zipped, secured, and within vision. As the most common crime within Madrid and Barcelona is pick-pocketing, PINC Coordinators make sure to keep students informed and alert. Above all, aside from the purses, iPhones, and wallets, what is paramount is the safety of our students, and in order to maintain an adventurous, exciting, unforgettable experience, students and coordinators must work together to create a fun and secure environment.
Always with the safety of our students in mind, we make sure to keep in close contact with the U.S. Embassy located in Madrid. The student residence is deliberately situated minutes away by taxi from the embassy in case of an emergency. The contact information of the PINC Program Coordinators, the Embassy of the United States, and medical services are automatically shared and saved on our students’ phones, in the welcome pack, and in our app.
To ensure the successful transition, protection, and satisfaction of our students, PINC Program Coordinators are based in each city and are available to the needs of our students throughout the entire experience. At PINC International, we not only understand the excitement of our abroad programs but the uncertainty of being abroad. We make sure our students are as acclimated to the change as possible by providing multiple events and activities between staff and students during the early stages of the program as a means to encourage socialization, team-building, and familiarization with the host city.
PINC International boasts over ten years of experience in providing safe, enjoyable, and memorable abroad programs. With our extensive experience, we are knowledgeable in providing comprehensive resources and well-informed decisions regarding the well-being of our students and staff. Our expansive support extends to 24/7 local emergency support on location, comprehensive travel and medical insurance, and the constant surveillance from our team, based in New York City, monitoring global issues that may impact the safety of our students. Information is based upon the updates and recommendations of the U.S. Department of State’s travel warnings, local law enforcement, NAFSA, NACE and the World Health Organization. PINC International LLC complies with NAFSA’s Resources for Health and Safety in Education Abroad.
Emergency Contacts: Our students are required have their contact information updated before the program and to have at least two emergency contacts provided during the program. With this information, should a situation arise, PINC International can easily and efficiently notify their emergency contacts as soon as possible. Furthermore, students must acquire the contact information of PINC Coordinators as well as the contact information of the Embassy of the United States, PINC Program Coordinators, and Spanish medical services for emergency pre-caution.
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.
Print Copies of Travel Documents: We advise participants to make copies of their passport and keep it on hand and to leave their hard copy passport in a safe place within their accommodations. We also encourage students to provide a copy of their travel documents to an adult back home. Interns should also keep travel and medical insurance information with them at all times.
Stay Alert: We encourage participants to travel in pairs or in groups at night and to familiarize themselves with the streets and local means of transportation within the host city.
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.
Useful Links: Health & Safety
- US State Department: Travel Warnings and more
- US Embassies Abroad
- US State Department Tips for Students Traveling Abroad