Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Study Abroad Information

Health Concerns for Studies or Travel Abroad

Contact the Health & Counseling Center to schedule your study abroad physical. These physicals are available to all enrolled students at no cost. We recommend scheduling this appointment at least 2 months prior to travel. You must bring your Study Abroad Physical Form along with a complete immunization record in order to receive clearance. Most vaccinations and medications can be prescribed at this visit, however, specialized vaccinations may require an outside referral to a travel clinic such as Passport Health, Providence St. Vincent's Traveler's Clinic, or The Portland Clinic.

Know your resources

We encourage you to discuss overseas health resources with the Studies Abroad Office. The US Department of State has a useful website for students planning an overseas experience. Included in this website are details and embassy contact information listed by country. You can use the contact information to obtain a list of health resources available in your area of stay. All students are encouraged to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program which is a free service that allows U.S. citizens traveling or living abroad to receive the latest security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

After Hours services offered by the Health & Counseling Center will be also continue to be available to students studying abroad.

Be properly vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control has a user-friendly website that breaks down immunization and other health recommendations by country. Do not assume that since vaccine status may be considered up to date in the U.S. that you are protected for overseas travel. Certain vaccines and other health recommendations may be appropriate depending on the locations or types of activities involved. Obtain your complete immunization information, share and discuss the recommendations with your health-care provider or a travel clinic.

Travel and Mental Health

Travel is enjoyable, but there is no doubt that it can be stressful.  Travel stress, mood changes, anxiety and other mental health concerns can unexpectedly affect you and potentially disrupt your trip. Research has indicated that college students may overestimate their ability to adapt to different cultures, which may contribute to initial adjustment difficulties. Your mental and physical health prior to, and during, a trip determines how well you will cope with travel stress. Consider the following:

  • Tiredness, lack of sleep
  • Major life events occurring prior to travel such as a birth, death, wedding, divorce, moving, or serious illness
  • Difficult home or professional life; experiencing recent emotional exhaustion or financial strain
  • Being lonely and away from friends and family members
  • Prior history of depression and anxiety
  • Having pre-existing psychiatric, behavioral, neurological disorders; memory or cognitive deficits
  • Dependence on, or misuse, of psychoactive substances
  • Using medications that have psychiatric or neurological side effects (some antiretrovirals and antimalarials)
  • Type and length of travel; adventure, business, leisure, emergency aid work, missions
  • Travel destination; traveling to politically unstable or war-torn areas, returning to a place where psychological trauma occurred

The Health & Counseling Center encourages students with mental health concerns to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors prior to international travel.

Students with Chronic Medical Conditions

It is recommended you discuss your overseas study and travel plans with your specialist or primary care provider before you finalize your travel abroad plans. In particular, give thought to access to necessary medications. Develop an action plan should any emergencies arise. This action plan should include information treating providers abroad may need, including contact information of treating providers in this country. It may be advisable to include a letter from your current treating provider(s) detailing the specifics of your current condition, including relevant lab tests, etc. We encourage you to share this information with the Studies Abroad Office if you think they should be aware of your condition should an emergency arise. It is advisable to keep your specific medical documentation with your passport while traveling.

Students with Disabilities

Discuss your plans for studies abroad as soon as possible. Office staff can help you determine how present accommodations may apply in your time abroad. In addition, the Department of State has information on traveling with a disability.

LGBTQ Students

You can enhance the safety and comfort of your travel experience by considering how the laws, culture, and social norms of your destination may affect your experience. Resources are available through the Department of State, The Trevor Project, and International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association.

Traveling with Medication

If you regularly take prescription or over the counter medications, we strongly encourage you to talk with your health care provider prior to your departure to make sure that you have enough medication for the entire time you are abroad.

Some prescription and over-the-counter medications are difficult or impossible to obtain in the country in which you are studying. If you do not take a full supply of prescription medication with you, a doctor in the country you are studying will need to examine you in order to obtain a new prescription. A prescription from the U.S. will not be honored abroad and you may or may not be able to obtain the same or comparable medicine(s). It is always better to bring a full supply of prescription and/or over- the- counter medication with you abroad rather than try and obtain medicine(s) while you are abroad. Please check with you Healthcare Provider, pharmacist and/or Insurance carrier to assist in this process. 

Some students take medications to assist with their learning difficulties. Please be aware that some of these medications are illegal and/or unavailable abroad. If you take Adderall, Concerta, Vyvanse, Metadate, Ritalin, or other similar medications for ADD or ADHD, you should be aware that you may not be able to get more medications abroad without seeing a psychiatrist or general practitioner abroad. Some of these medications are not available in other countries. As such, it is highly advisable that you come with a full supply of all your medication(s). Please do not ship any of these medications abroad. Any shipped medications are typically discovered in customs and may cause significant issues for you in their country and/or you could be criminally charged. 

Transport prescription medication in your carry-on bag. When transporting any prescription medicine, please remember to bring it in its original pharmacy bottle/container along with a letter from you healthcare provider explaining its use. Customs officers may search belongings. Keeping your full supply of medicine with you in your carry-on bag (not placing it in checked baggage) will ensure an easier experience in customs and reduce the possibility of your medicine being confiscated. 

Enrollment verification letter. Some insurance companies will not allow you to obtain more than a 30 day supply of certain prescription medications. If you are having difficulty obtaining enough medication for your entire time abroad, please contact your insurance company and determine if an enrollment verification letter would allow them to override their policy.