When you're planning to study abroad, it's very important to consider the potential health issues you could encounter as a visiting student.
The Center for Global Education's Student Study Abroad Safety Handbook suggests that you take time to learn about precautions you can take to avoid illnesses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes travel advisories on its website for countries around the world. And the U.S. Department of State provides information on its Students Abroad website.
The U.S. Department of State also encourages all international travelers to enroll their trips with the U.S. Department of State so they can receive alerts about potential health hazards. Enrolling will also allow your host country's U.S. Embassy to find you if there is an emergency.
It's easier to stay well if you're in good physical condition at the start of your trip.
- Make sure you receive any necessary inoculations before you leave the U.S. World Health Organization offers recommendations for getting vaccinations.
- If you take medications, make sure to bring an adequate supply. You can contact the U.S. Embassy or your student travel program to find out the rules for bringing prescription medications into the country you're planning to visit.
- The CDC advises travelers that drugs sold in low-to-middle-income countries may be counterfeit and have poor quality or toxic ingredients due to the lack of resources to effectively monitor and enforce drug quality standards. Avoid taking them without first consulting a health professional.
- Because the quality of health care abroad may not meet the standards you're accustomed to, many colleges, such as Colorado State University, encourage students to have a physical examination, a dental check-up, and an eye exam before they leave.
- Furthermore, exercising regularly can help you maintain your health and fitness while you're abroad.
Not sure what else to take with you? Check out this ultimate study abroad packing list.
Be Cautious About What You Eat and Drink
Two common ways to become ill while abroad are eating and drinking contaminated food and beverages. Make sure you can determine whether the local water is safe to drink. If you plan to drink bottled water, always check to make sure each bottle's seal is intact. Remember that ice can be a source of bacteria.
If you suffer from food poisoning or diarrhea while abroad, drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. Be sure to see a doctor if your condition worsens.
In addition to monitoring what you eat and drink, it's important to be aware of diseases that can be transmitted by insects. Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that causes flu-like symptoms. According to the American Mosquito Control Association, more than one million people worldwide die from mosquito-borne diseases each year.
Get an International Health Insurance Plan
When you study abroad, it's important to consider international student health insurance, since injuries and illnesses can happen anywhere.
Most domestic insurance policies won't cover you while you're outside the U.S., so you could be fully responsible for any financial payments resulting from a sickness or injury. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you could pay more than $100,000 for a medical evacuation without international health insurance.
That’s why the U.S. Department of State recommends that you “ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas – and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation.” If it doesn’t, an international student health insurance plan like StudentSecure could reduce your personal expenses if you were to face an unexpected injury or illness throughout the course of your international studies.
StudentSecure provides medical coverage to full-time students and scholars while they're abroad. It meets or exceeds most government and visa requirements, including J-1 visa requirements, as well as meeting the requirements of many programs and schools.
StudentSecure offers four levels of coverage – Elite, Select, Budget, and Smart – with maximum health benefits ranging from $200,000 to $5,000,000. All levels of coverage include emergency medical evacuation coverage and provide the option of saving money by paying your full premium in advance.
Always Be Prepared
International study provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn while gaining a cultural understanding of the world. You'll have a better experience abroad if you're knowledgeable about potential health issues and take the proper precautions before and during your trip.