Study abroad is an enriching and exciting experience, but changes in culture, food, language, and academic expectations can also be challenging. Those challenges can create or exacerbate both mental stress and physical symptoms. It is crucial to plan ahead to safeguard your health while traveling, and to be prepared for the stresses of adapting to a new situation. All students should be prepared to confront stresses such as jet lag, culture shock, and differences in nutritional and health conditions. If you have special needs (on-going medical condition, counseling, a learning or physical disability), discussing them with your doctor, counselor, or the study abroad advisor, as well as your program provider, is the best way to make sure you are choosing the program that can meet your needs and provide a positive study abroad experience.
Here are some basic tips for preparing for a healthier and less stressful period of study abroad. You can find more detailed and country-specific recommendations through the links at the bottom of this page.
Almost all programs require a physical examination, and many visas do as well. You can have a physical examination free of charge at the Health Center. If you require lab tests, these can be done at the Health Center and billed to your insurance.
Confirm that your routine immunizations are up-to-date when you have your physical exam. A Hepatitis A vaccination is also recommended for all travelers going abroad. You can make an appointment at the Health Center for this vaccination.
If you are traveling anywhere outside Western Europe, you will most likely need additional vaccinations. The Centers for Disease Control, your program provider, and the Health Center can help you figure out what immunizations you need. Diann Lynch, the travel nurse at the Health Center, can also tell you how much your immunizations will cost.
As soon as you apply to a program that will require immunizations, contact Ms. Lynch at the Health Center (315 859-4111) to schedule an appointment. Most immunizations must be completed at least a month prior to travel, and some require several shots over a one-month period. Be sure to make an appointment early enough to complete all your immunizations in a timely fashion! This is also the time to ask about any special medications required for your destination, such as anti-malarial drugs.
If you are unable to utilize the Health Center, you can also call 798-5747 for an appointment at the Oneida County Health Travel Clinic located in Utica, or use the Travel Health Clinic Locator to find a clinic near your home.
All your required immunizations should be recorded in your "yellow book," and you should carry that document with you.
Plan ahead and complete any medical checkups that would be scheduled while you are away. This includes dental, vision, and gynecological examinations. Be sure to obtain a copy of any important records (blood type, continuing prescriptions, vision prescriptions, x-rays) you might need for medical care abroad, and carry them with you. Also carry contact information such as phone and fax numbers for your health care providers at home.
Consult your insurance agent to make sure that you have appropriate medical insurance and any other travel insurance you wish to purchase. Be sure that you have coverage for medical evacuation, in the rare case that you would have to be flown back to the U.S. (or to a different country) for medical treatment. Also, check to make sure that your policy covers any continuing treatment you may need for newly acquired medical conditions after you return home.
You may wish to carry a small kit with bandages, antibiotic cream, aspirin or other non-prescription pain reliever, anti-diarrheal medicine, sun screen, insect repellent, and antihistamines.
Take a back up pair of glasses and/or contact lenses! You should also carry a written prescription for the lenses. In many countries, contact lens solutions will be quite expensive if available, and you may not be able to find the type you need. Carry extra with you.
Take enough of any regular prescriptions to cover the time you will be away. This includes any regular prescriptions you use and also special travel medications, such as anti-malarial drugs. Carry prescription drugs in their original containers. Carry written copies of the prescriptions, including the drug's generic name. Pack the containers and the written prescriptions in different places.