- Remember to take care of yourself while abroad! Neglecting your health has the potential to negatively impact your studies—as well as your overall experience. Follow through with the plans you and your physician at home made for you if you are on medication. Remember to get enough sleep and exercise, eat nutritiously, and avoid risky behavior. In addition, it will be critical that you are attentive to your emotional needs as studying abroad can trigger feelings of loneliness and homesickness.
- Visit your physician before you leave for a check-up and talk about your upcoming study abroad experience during the consultation.
- Once abroad, if you are ill or injured, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a list of local physicians and medical facilities. At your request, consular officers will help you contact family or friends. If necessary, a consul can assist in the transfer of funds from family or friends in the U.S.
- Payment of hospital and other medical expenses is your responsibility. Depending on your health insurance, you may have to pay a fee upfront and then claim a reimbursement from your health insurance provider. A claim has to be reported immediately following treatment. Check with your insurance carrier for details.
- In case of an emergency, you need to go to a local physician, clinic or hospital without delay. You also need to call the following numbers:
- Worldwide Assistance (call collect): 202-659-7777
- IIT Health Insurance Plan: (877) 480-4161(Aetna)
- Dental care will not be covered by most health insurance policies while you are abroad. So make sure you have a check-up at your dentist before you leave the country.
- If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you should also have a check-up for an up-to-date prescription.
- You should bring enough of any current prescription medication and vitamins to last throughout your stay. For each prescription, including eyeglass prescriptions, carry a photocopy of the written prescription or a letter from your physician stating that you are required to take the medication, in case you get stopped at customs.
- If your prescriptions included controlled substances, you may need to notify officials at the U.S. Embassy in the host country. Information can be found online through the U.S. Department of State’s website (under Country Travel Information by Region) at http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/english.html.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes guidelines for immunizations and other health precautions for travelers. Visit www.cdc.gov/travel for more information. You can also consult with a travel specialist for more detailed assessments in addition to consulting with a medical physician.
- Check with your health clinic or doctor to be sure you have had all necessary vaccinations, not only for the country in which you will be studying but also any countries to which you plan to travel.
Other Health Precautions
- If you have a medical condition that is not easily identifiable (i.e. diabetes, epilepsy, severe allergies), you should wear a medic-alert bracelet while you are abroad. If you have a medical problem that could be aggravated by conditions abroad (i.e., asthma), consider carefully how you will deal with the problem abroad and discuss it with your physician before you leave home.
- Find out if non-bottled water is considered safe to drink in the countries to which you will be traveling. Purify unsafe water before you drink it. Make sure water bottles come sealed when you buy them. Remember that ice can also be unsafe, as well as the water you use to brush your teeth. And don’t open your mouth in the shower!
- Avoid injections and blood transfusions, as well as tattoos and piercings while abroad if AIDS is a concern in the region of your host country—and use protection if you chose to be sexually active.