Your Health Abroad
In order to stay healthy during your study abroad experience, it is best to be aware, and prepare before you go. These steps prior to departure and while you're abroad may help you stay healthy, allowing you to make the most of your experience. Exciting as studying abroad is, your physical, mental and emotional health can be affected when adjusting to your new environment, and health care can be quite different abroad. Consider ahead of time whether you have health needs that could become problematic if you do not have access to specific services and medicines. Being aware of these issues can help you plan for a healthy experience abroad.
Prior to Departure
Schedule a Routine Checkup
A visit to your family physician, dentist and any additional doctors who may be providing you care currently will ensure that you are in good health before you leave and may prevent health concerns while abroad.
Consider Pre-existing Conditions
Please disclose to your program any current or past medical conditions, chronic illnesses, learning disabilities, or eating or other psychological disorders. Even if you have overcome these issues, being in a new and challenging environment can often cause reoccurrences. It is important for the appropriate program staff to be aware of your conditions.
If you do have an ongoing medical issue, talk to your health care professional as well as your study abroad advisor to assure that both you and they are aware of what you will need in order to stay healthy during your time abroad. If you require medication, make sure you've planned for access while abroad. Make copies of any important health records and know how to contact your physician or therapist from abroad, if necessary.
Plan for Prescriptions
If you take prescription medications regularly, bring a supply to last throughout your time abroad. In other countries, some medications cannot be distributed in large quantities, and others can be difficult to travel with. Carry prescription medications and copies of the prescription itself in your carry-on luggage. Additionally, medications abroad may not be the same as those in the United States, may be marketed differently, or are only available in different doses. It is probably wise to have a letter from your home physician or pharmacist describing the conditions being treated, your medications and their generic names, and their dosages. You may also write down the active ingredient for any medications you may eventually need to obtain while abroad.
Verify Immunization Requirements
Occasionally, immunizations may be required to enter the country or specific regions of the country. It is important to determine the requirements of your host country well before you leave. Discuss this with your doctor or a local travel clinic. All travelers should be up-to-date on basic immunizations (tetanus, polio, diphtheria, etc.). If you will be traveling to a developing country, specific vaccines are frequently recommended. Anti-malarial medicine is required if you go to malarial areas. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest local updates. International travel clinics also keep up-to-date on immunization requirements.
Health & Travel Insurance
All Rice students are required to have a comprehensive international sickness and accident insurance policy while abroad, and must meet the Rice requirement for health insurance before, during and after the program.
If you become ill or are injured while abroad, contact your program director, or International SOS, for information and advice on doctors and pharmacies in your host country. The local U.S. Embassy and Consulate should also have lists of English speaking doctors in your area. In many countries, especially those with socialized healthcare systems, doctor’s visits are only for emergencies; for common ailments, pharmacists are very knowledgeable and can help you find the appropriate medication.
If you are unable to reach your program director, call the International SOS Alarm Center at 215-942-8226 (collect calls accepted).
Again, as recommended prior to departure, please share with appropriate program staff any current or past medical conditions, including learning disabilities, chronic illnesses, or eating or other psychological disorders. Even if you have overcome these issues, being in a new and challenging environment can often cause reoccurrences. It is important for the program staff to be aware of your conditions.