Frequently Asked Questions
Are the countries and locations where GSE take students safe?
High schools - always private transportation, in form of bus or van to and from sites.
Universities - private transportation to and from airports and for long distance travel. Public transportation may be used for short distance trips within site location.
Global Student Embassy has built a vast network of in-country contacts in all of our partner locations and communities. We stay in dialogue with these partners regularly and are constantly receiving the most up-to-date information about our destinations and how it affects our groups and programs. We do everything we can to keep students safe, but students are also responsible for their own safety by following our policies, guidelines, and advice.
Do students need a visa for traveling?
US passport holders do not need a visa to enter Ecuador or Guatemala. However, the passport expiration date must be at least 6 months later than the date of entry into the country. If the passport is not valid for at least 6 months afterwards, the student may not be allowed to enter the country.
Do students need to carry a copy of their vaccination records with them?
Yes, your student should carry their vaccination record with them at all times. This information will also be submitted to our on-site team, and will be accesible my staff in case of emergency.
What vaccinations does my student need?
Families are encouraged to make this decision according to their comfort level. As we are not medical professionals, we are unable to provide any advice on vaccinations. However, we do recommend checking the Center for Disease Control’s website on the destination country, and visiting a travel doctor if you’d like more specific medical advice.
What if my student cannot pay the full price of the trip?
That is a great question! We have many students who cannot personally fund their entire international trip. For this reason, and because we want as many students as possible to be able to realize their goal of traveling with us, we offer scholarship opportunities and workshops to help students fundraise.
We recognize fundraising as an essential skill in organizing and advocacy, and value the opportunity to mentor our students in developing these skill sets. Please contact your local Community Educator about our nomination process for receiving a scholarship.
Should my student bring food with them?
We provide three meals a day for the students, however, many of the workdays involve long hours or challenging labor. Students are encouraged to bring additional snacks if desired.
What meals will be provided?
Once in country, all meals are provided. The food consists of local dishes prepared by our providers, who have all passed a thorough vetting process by our in-country staff. Vegetarian, vegan and other dietary restrictions can be accommodated if this information is provided on the medical form.
Should my student bring money with them on their trip?
Everything that your student needs will be provided once students are in country - students may want to bring funds in order to purchase snacks and beverages at the airport. It is also a good idea to bring some extra pocket money in case they want to buy gifts, memorabilia, or other items (such as toiletries) while in-country.
I can’t speak Spanish, is that a problem?
No. All of our exchange staff are fluent in English and Spanish. We encourage learning a few greetings in Spanish, and for students who are currently studying Spanish, our trips are a great way to practice the language.
Where will students be sleeping?
Students will be primarily staying at hostels, sharing a room with other trip participants. Some trips might also include camping days or homestays. Talk to your Community Educator for more information about your specific trip, and any necessary items to pack.
Will my student have email/phone access while on the GSE trip?
Our programs offer students the opportunity to be away from home and explore their independence. Students will be asked to give their cell phones to GSE staff once they reach the country, where they will be kept in a safe place for the remainder of the student’s time in-country. Guardians will receive daily email summaries written by the students and distributed by their trip leaders to stay informed about their students whereabouts and experience.
We will not provide the Wifi password for students. In the event of an emergency or health concern, a local staff member will contact the primary guardian entered on the registration form. Emergency contacts will be contacted as a secondary measure in the case that any/all guardians are unavailable.
In the case that there is an urgent matter in which a traveling student needs to be contacted, please contact: 510-326-4422.
What is GSE’s policy on drugs and alcohol?
For all participants, GSE has a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs. Alcohol is also strongly prohibited on high school trips. Our programs are focused on community service and building relationships, and students are prohibited from seeking out or using intoxicants. Students will be kept by the side of a chaperone in the event that these rules are broken, and may be sent home at their family’s expense.
(Please see the release waiver for more info on this subject). Alcohol use on college trips takes place in a responsible manner. Failure to abide by the expectations of your exchange coordinator may result in dismissal from the program.
What about clean drinking water?
Clean drinking water is available to students 100% of the time. Students are expected to bring canteens or water bottles to refill throughout the trip.
What type of insurance is provided by Global Student Embassy?
Global Student Embassy has an international health and liability policy that covers all participants, but does not have a policy about international travel insurance (insuring belongings and cancellations of trips). Therefore, the addition of any international travel insurance is a decision for each individual family to make.
Many homeowners and renters policies will also cover you for lost/stolen items during your travels. However, they can have high deductibles and a variety of clauses that can make this more troublesome than you’d prefer. You can access the details of this plan, and upgrade specific parts of it by using the insurance portal of our provider: http://coretravelinsurance.com/.
Note: GSE recommends participants purchase trip cancellation insurance. Trip cancellation/interruption insurance protects you against losing money due to a last minute emergency, whether medical, natural disaster or a death in the family. It is best to purchase coverage that has the fewest exclusions, and if possible allows for coverage for “cancel for any reason.” Sometimes more extensive coverage is available only if you purchase with 14 days of your first deposit to GSE, so purchase as early as possible. We cannot recommend a specific policy, but you can shop on sites like squaremouth.com. Coverage cost an average of $50-100.
What if I get sick during the trip?
Every participant of the exchange trip is required to complete a thorough medical questionnaire before traveling with GSE, including dietary needs and restrictions. This information is given to all chaperones and international staff to ensure students have the healthiest, safest experience possible.
Different environmental factors exist when traveling abroad and our bodies may not be used to the challenges posed by daily life in a new country. While a certain amount of travelers’ diarrhea is to be expected, our leaders have the travel experience and medical training required to determine when an illness is potentially severe versus an expected travel sickness. All international staff are Wilderness Advanced First Aid certified, and have comprehensive first-aid kits on them at all times.
Should a student ever need to go to the doctor, a staff member will accompany him/her/them to make sure he/she/they asks all the relevant questions and gets the best medical care possible. It is important that you notify GSE staff of ANY medications you are taking regularly, or before you begin taking a new medication before and during the exchange.