In order to make the most of your time abroad you want to make sure you are staying healthy! It is best to make a doctor's appointment before you leave so that you can talk to your doctor about the area you will be travelling to and any of your specific health concerns. This is a good opportunity to discuss how you will obtain prescription medications while abroad and whether or not you need any vaccinations before you go. Often times, a doctor's note is required as part of a student visa application as well. Make sure you look into this before your appointment and bring any forms that may need to be signed.
Regarding prescription medicines, you should decide whether you will be purchasing medication abroad or bringing enough medication to last the duration of the program. Please note that medicines and vitamins cannot be mailed internationally; they will be held up in customs. Medicines should be stored in a drug store bottle with a label showing the drug's name, its generic name, the dosage of the drug, and instructions for use.
Even under optimal conditions, adjusting to life in a different culture can be a stressful transition. On occasion, this stress may trigger or aggravate more serious emotional conditions. Adjusting to another culture is higher risk for a student who is currently under treatment for depression/anxiety, an eating disorder, or any other serious medical or mental health condition. In these cases study abroad should be postponed or planned very carefully in conjunction with our staff and other healthcare professionals.
Typical reactions to cultural transitions may include homesickness, boredom or fatigue, physical complaints, feelings of depression or helplessness, and/or hostility toward the host culture. However, these reactions are usually short-lived when students are encouraged to test new problem-solving methods that enhance their sense of mastery in dealing with a new culture.
Above all, trust your instincts. If, after an initial transition period of two or three weeks, you are experiencing unusual or prolonged distress, you should consult with counseling services overseas and contact our office for additional resources.
Petty larceny is an issue for all travelers. Pickpockets in popular tourist destinations often single out foreigners as easy targets. We recommend body pouches as the safest way to carry passports and currency. While studying abroad (in any city), keeping your residence doors and windows locked at all times is also a necessary safety precaution.
Students should make copies of all important documents (including the first page of your passport, your visa, and your credit, ATM, and insurance cards) and:
- Leave one set at home with a family member
- Keep one set in a separate location while traveling independently (e.g. in a backpack or luggage).
Health & Safety Resources
Excellent, comprehensive information on safe travel is available through the State Department's website. The U.S. State Department posts current travel warnings, public announcements, and consular information sheets for any country on this website. We recommend that all students read this information and do personal research on safety in the country where their study abroad program is located.
U.S. State Department: Travel Tips for Students
Consular Affairs Publications: Your Trip Abroad, A Safe Trip Abroad, Tips for Americans Residing Abroad