Health Safety Info
Study Abroad Health and Safety for the Student Traveler
When you study abroad, health and safety should be a top priority for you. It’s important to take precautions and use common sense throughout your daily activities and as you explore new places. Prepare yourself and prevent your dream trip from turning into a nightmare.
Staying Healthy While Away
Taking care of yourself starts by eating right, exercising, getting plenty of rest, and keeping drug and alcohol use to a minimum – regardless of the host country’s laws.
In addition, the following ‘study abroad public health checklist’ can help you ensure a healthy trip abroad:
- Check with the CDC – When you travel abroad you should always check with the U.S. Center for Disease Control beforehand to learn about study abroad public health concerns including regional diseases. Know how they’re transmitted, preventative measures to take, and of course, symptoms and treatments. Additionally, research the types of shots, immunizations, and x-rays you need to enter the country.
- Check with Your School – Your host school will be able to provide you with a list of medical documents and study abroad health requirements you’ll need to enroll. This may include additional tests, records, and forms above your locations study abroad public health requirements, so be sure to check.
- Visit Your Doctor and Dentist – Once you find out what tests and shots you’ll need, have a complete physical done by your doctor. And since oral health is so closely related to your overall health, be sure to have a complete dental examination too.
- Refill Your Prescriptions – When you travel, be sure to take a full supply of any prescription medicines with you. Before you go, check the country’s laws to make sure a legal U.S. drug isn’t an illegal substance there and always keep medications in their original containers with the prescription information clearly visible. It’s also a good idea to have a doctor’s note describing the exact medication, strength, and dosage.
Safety Abroad Means Being Street Smart
Safety abroad involves common sense and heeding the same types of advice your parents may have given you over the years.
Travel in groups and never go off alone at night. Never go anywhere with strangers. Don’t take food or drinks from anyone you don’t know. Keep your possessions close to you and don’t wear flashy jewelry or flaunt expensive items.
Criminals, including men, women, children and the elderly, prey on unsuspecting tourists, so listen to your gut, and heed the following safety abroad tips:
- Get Informed – Know everything that you can about the areas you’re visiting. Start by scanning the U.S. State Department’s website for travel advisories, warnings, and additional safety abroad tips.
- Keep Emergency Contacts Handy – Keep a list with you at all times that includes numbers for the local U.S. consulate or embassy, your school and study abroad program, your roommates or host family, and other local friends.
- Know the Area – Learn about the areas and cities surrounding your school. Know where the police stations are, and how to ask for help in the native tongue. Be familiar with common routes to and from your campus.
- Know the Law – Prevent possible legal altercations by being aware of your host country’s laws. You might be surprised to find out that some countries outlaw such seemingly benign behavior as jaywalking and chewing gum.
- Know the Customs – If it’s customary to cover your head and face with a scarf, then do it. If it’s rude, or even criminal, to show your knees, leave your mini skirts and shorts at home.
- Don’t Look Like a Tourist – Don’t even think about stringing a camera around your neck, and if you’re lost, try not to look it. Instead, go to a private area to discreetly consult a map. If you realize that asking for directions is your only option, look for a policeman or another authority figure to help you.
- Be Smart About Public Transportation – If a taxi or bus isn’t clearly marked with official language, don’t get in. And although it may be tempting to save money, especially when traveling on a student budget plan, never share a taxi with someone you don’t know.
- Ask Before You Snap – Be careful who and what you photograph. Many times natives take offense to having their photographs taken by foreigners and may accost you.
When you study abroad health and safety depend on your best judgment. Use your head and have the time of your life.