Ensuring that you have a healthy experience abroad depends both on advance preparation and common sense while abroad. As part of your pre-departure research, check the website for the Centers for Disease Control for comments on health issues specific to your program location, including current information on disease outbreaks and immunization requirements. You should also discuss studying abroad with your health-care provider(s). They should be apprised of where you are going and for how long, and you can talk with them at the same time about any prescriptions you are currently taking. The TLU campus nurse can also give some general information.
Students participating in a study abroad program through TLU are automatically covered by the TLU's international travel insurance, administered by Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators (EIIA). This insurance offers reimbursable coverage for major medical care, as well as coverage for medical evacuation, emergency family travel, repatriation, and security evacuation coverage. There is no additional charge for this insurance, and students are provided with details on coverage as part of the pre-departure orientation.
Some programs require students to purchase additional health insurance through them; others require or provide an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which provides some health coverage. Regardless of program requirements, you should make sure you understand precisely what your policy covers (and, more importantly, what it doesn’t).
If you are interested in purchasing additional travel insurance, the U.S. State Department provides a list of names of travel insurance companies.
Medications and Prescriptions
If you take prescription medications regularly, consult with your physician before you depart. You should, if practical, bring a supply to last throughout your time abroad -- and leave them in their original prescription containers. You should also bring a copy of your written prescription and possibly a letter from your physician describing the condition being treated and offering additional information on the medication and dosages. Ask that the letter use generic rather than brand names. Carry both the medication and any documentation, such as the written prescription and physician’s letter, with you in your carry-on luggage and be prepared to present them to customs officials if asked. Do not plan to have family or friends ship medicines or vitamins to you while you are abroad. At best, they may be held up in customs; but many countries have much more stringent drug laws, so shipping medications may lead to legal trouble.
The stresses that sometimes come with study abroad can exacerbate or lead to recurrence of anxiety, depression, and/or eating disorders. If you are currently on prescription medication for these or similar conditions, now is not the time to go off your medication. If you are diabetic or have another medical condition that requires the use of a syringe, look into bringing a supply of disposable syringes, which may not be available in your host country. Note: Some countries, however, restrict the importation of syringes -- as well as of certain medications and contraceptives. Before departure, research the policies of your host country as they pertain to any medications you take regularly.
If you are prescribed narcotic or other habit-forming medication, discuss this with the program provider prior to your departure. Plan to bring a physician’s letter with you, and register the prescription information with the local U.S. Embassy at your destination.
Use of non-prescription narcotic substances is strictly prohibited and can be cause for dismissal from your program. Moreover, you will be subject to local laws governing and penalties for the use, transportation, and/or possession of controlled substances. International drug penalties are generally more severe than those in the United States. In some countries, simple acquisition of prohibited drugs, including marijuana and other controlled substances, can result in heavy fines, deportation, and prison sentences ranging from months to years -- and in some countries, these acts are considered a capital offense. Don’t risk it.
Take an extra pair of eyeglasses and/or contact lenses if you wear them, and bring a copy of the prescription, as well. If you wear contacts, consider bringing extra contact lens solution. It’s better to be prepared then to not be able to see or have to pay a large amount to get new glasses/ contact lens.
Get your biannual check-up and take care of any pains or problems. It is much better to have any dental procedures done prior to leaving with your primary dentist and with your current insurance.
Make a Plan
Speak with your family and your healthcare professionals about warning signs and steps to talk if you have been treated in the past for a condition that may recur. It is helpful to alert the program resident staff abroad of any possible instances that may occur regarding your health.
Speak with your family about what you should do in the event of the death of a grandparent, favorite aunt, etc. –especially if someone is ill at the time of your departure. It is best to make decisions about returning for a funeral or other arrangements ahead of time and not when you are many miles away and during an emotional time.
- About Study Abroad
- Study Abroad Programs
- Preparing for Study Abroad
- Returning from Abroad
September 23, 2016
Part of the college experience is the opportunity to study abroad. For some students, the idea of leaving home to go half way across the world is terrifying, but not for TLU exchange student Masaki Higashi.Read More