Health Preparation

Nabonita Hoq in Peru

Preparing prior to departure and taking care of yourself while abroad are both extremely important in having a rewarding time abroad. Keeping yourself healthy should be a top priority.

Before you leave, you should:

  • Check in with your program around documents they require. They should advise if you need any specific vaccinations and the legality of various medications. Being as open as possible with your program allows them to best support you and any medical needs you have.
  • Get physical and dental checkups to make sure everything is in order.
  • Make a plan to access medication while abroad. Will your doctor give you enough to take for the entire semester? Will you need to fill a prescription from abroad? Please work with your program in advance of departure to plan for this. Office of Study Abroad staff are happy to help!
  • Have your doctor write out any standard prescriptions which you use with both brand and generic names (in case the brand name is not recognized internationally). 
  • Pack any prescriptions in clearly marked bottles and have the prescription with you in case a customs officer requests it.
  • Check on the legality of bringing your medicine into your host country. Your program can help you with this!
  • Your routine and any necessary immunizations should be up-to-date before you travel. Speak with your program and doctor to determine which immunizations you need.

Tips for Health Preparation

  • Don't leave things to the last minute, especially when it comes to health! Get your checkups and immunizations well before your departure.

  • Have prescriptions with both brand and generic names for all medications you may need abroad.

    • Try to bring enough medication to last for your entire stay abroad because they may not be available in your host country. Or work with your program on how to obtain additional medication, if necessary. Speak with your program about this prior to departure; waiting until you are there risks not being able to get your medication on time or at all.

    • Make sure all medications are clearly labeled before going through customs.

  • Check the CDC website and work with your doctor to make sure you have all your immunizations before you go abroad! The Center for Disease Control will also provide updates and precautions on current diseases or outbreaks abroad.

  • You can receive immunizations from your physician or a Travel Clinic.

  • If you feel you may have a medical problem that is not easily recognized (such as diabetes, allergic reactions to antibiotics or bee stings, heart conditions or epilepsy) you should consider obtaining a Medic Alert ID tag.

  • Learn how to say any medical issues in the local language or have the translation written for you on a card you carry.

  • Consider packing your favorite over the counter medications because they might not be available in your host country, especially common cold medicines.