Study Abroad 101: Staying Healthy

Most young people don’t think about getting sick or injured during college or while studying abroad, however, some students find out too late that medical issues can be costly, take away from their studies, or even ruin a study abroad experience – many of our amazing Orange County college tutors have studied abroad.


Students are encouraged to see the world and become a global citizen through international learning opportunities while also preparing for any possible health issues so they can enjoy their international experience to its fullest (READ: “Why You Should Study Abroad”).

1. Student health insurance

Students who currently study at a US University are required to maintain health insurance. Some students will receive insurance through their parents or a government sponsored program while other students may be able to purchase health insurance through the university itself. Regardless of the type of insurance, study abroad students are highly encouraged to purchase travel health insurance if they are going to be studying internationally. Generally speaking, travel health insurance for a young, healthy person doesn’t cost too much if they’re only going to be away for a few weeks over the summer. However, if the student is going away for a full semester or year, they should consider various financial options for keeping themselves healthy while abroad.

2. Health care in different countries

Some countries will provide temporary health care for students who are studying full-time. The quality and extent of healthcare varies by country. Some countries will provide full-service health insurance and care well others will provide very basic care such as antibiotics for a cold or flu infection. These issues are something that students should look at prior to choosing the university and country they will study in (READ: “7 Reasons to Study Abroad in the UK”).

3. Health care before you go

Depending on the country, some health care issues may need to be handled prior to leaving the United States. Some areas of the world require vaccinations that Americans wouldn’t normally get while other areas may be very similar to life in the United States. Additionally, some countries will not allow students to stay in their country long-term if their medical records are not up-to-date. This is something that should be confirmed ahead of time so that doctor’s appointments can be made if necessary.

4. What happens if you get sick abroad?

Students who become sick abroad should check with the doctor on campus or a local doctor’s office to receive any immediate care they need. It’s important that the local doctor knows about any pre-existing medical conditions or allergies to medications. Students who are studying abroad should also have a list of emergency contacts both locally and back at home. For the most part, students will provide the names of the local advisor or university representative as well as their parents or another relative back in the United States.

5. Maintaining health while abroad

One of the best ways to avoid health issues while abroad is to maintain a healthy lifestyle as a preventative measure. As with any international travel to or from the United States, students are advised to adjust to the new food and water slowly and maintain a balanced diet as well as get eight hours of sleep each night. It’s tempting to want to see the entire country and travel every minute outside of the classroom, but rest, relaxation and light exercise can help students maintain a healthy routine so they can enjoy the majority of their study abroad experience (READ: “7 Tips For Studying While Traveling”).

In Short

Although there are many practical things to be worked out prior to living in another country, international learning is such a wonderful experience and one that should be fun, educational, eye-opening, and healthy for students whether they are abroad for a month or a full year.

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