Part 2: Health Abroad
In this lesson, you will learn about:
• International Health Insurance
• Jet lag
• Tips to stay healthy
• What to do if you get sick
Taking care of your health is one of the most important things to prepare for when
you’re living abroad – and is often times overlooked until illness or injury occurs.
Nothing can take the fun out of your study abroad experience like a nagging cold or
an unplanned trip to the emergency room. Fortunately, if there’s a medical issue
that can come up while you’re studying abroad, we’ve probably seen it, and we can
tell you all you need to know about having a healthy and happy study abroad
experience, as well as dealing with any issues you might have as they arise.
Health Insurance: We’ve Got You Covered
All students traveling abroad are automatically enrolled in a comprehensive
international health insurance plan through CISI (Cultural Insurance Services
International), a company that specializes in international health care for
students, at no additional charge. This insurance is mandatory, and will cover
any and all health needs you might have while you’re abroad. Here are some
features of the plan:
• Automatically provided to all students going abroad
• 100% of all medical, mental and emergency dental healthcare costs are covered.
• Acts as your primary health insurance anywhere in the world outside of the US
• Will assist you with making doctor appointments and locating pharmacies/hospitals
• If you have to bring medication with you, you can contact CISI beforehand to determine:
– What the medication is called in that country
– Whether or not it is legal and available in that country
• Resting as much as you can on the plane. When the pilot announces the
local time when you land reset your mind along with your watch to that
• If you arrive at your destination before a “normal” bedtime and feel groggy
don’t respond to the urge to take a long afternoon nap. Jetlag hates
fresh air, daylight and exercise! Upon arrival you should force yourself
into a “normal” sleeping pattern and get on track with local time.
• It can take a few days to get over the
effects of jet lag, so don’t panic if it
doesn’t go away immediately!
Health Abroad: Jet Lag
If you haven’t done this type of traveling before, you’ll soon find out that long
international flights can wreak havoc on your internal clock, making the first
few days after your arrival tiring. It’s natural. It stinks. Jetlag occurs when
you travel over multiple times zones in a short period of time and the
body’s clock is out of sync with the destination time. But there are some
things you can do to help:
Overcoming jet lag doesn’t mean you can stop worrying about sleep; in order to function
effectively, your body needs a regular schedule. That’s why it’s crucial that you sleep a
consistent amount of time every night! Many students report feeling more tired than
usual while abroad due to a more active lifestyle. Of course, when you stay out ‘til the wee
hours of the morning, you never catch up on sleep and you won’t enjoy the rest of the
experience if you are always tired. Don’t be a night owl!
Health Abroad: Sleeping
*Not only will getting plenty of sleep make you feel
better and perform better in class, it will also make it
easier to see and do all the awesome activities you
have on your checklist! When studying abroad,
walking is a key mode of transportation for students.
If you are tired you will not enjoy the many sites there
are to see!
• Find out how to make a doctor’s appointment abroad BEFORE you need to!
• Bring your own prescribed (and over-the-counter) medications in the original
containers: Do NOT rely on finding the right prescription once you arrive!
• Bring copies of your prescriptions too, especially for contacts and
• Carry your ID, Student ID and your Health Insurance card (this will
be emailed to you shortly before you depart)
• The on-site staff can help you make a doctor’s appointment. If
necessary, CISI insurance can also help you with make a doctor’s
appointment, finding the correct prescriptions abroad, and any other
health issues you might have (for example, if you’re on a weekend trip).
Health Abroad: Tips
When getting ready to study abroad, it helps to remember the scout’s
motto: always be prepared! This is doubly true when it comes to your
health, so take the following precautions:
Health Abroad: The Pharmacy
• In Europe, pharmacies can be a good place
to go when you’re not feeling well. The
pharmacists are trained to provide non-
emergency medical advice, distribute some
medications that would require a doctor’s visit
and a prescription in the U.S., and will tell you
if your condition is serious enough to warrant
seeing a doctor (or going to the hospital).
• PLUS they are easily accessible (though not
generally open 24 hours) and can be found all
over. In many European countries, just look
for the green neon cross.
• For non-European countries, this rule may
not apply. Check with your on-site exchange
program staff or contact the Office of Global
Studies if you have any questions about
medical services abroad.
Just because you’re abroad, doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit – or get fit!
Exercising abroad isn’t impossible – it just takes
a little bit more initiative on your part!
• Bring work-out DVDs with you, learn yoga/pilates
• Walk around and explore! Go take a long walk
as often as you can
• Find a jogging buddy – there are plenty
of scenic places to run in each of our
• Bring a Resistance Band with you
• Please note there are no gyms on our campuses abroad.
Health Abroad: Exercise Tips
Health Abroad: Nutrition
MANGIA! MANGE! COME! (But remember, eating abroad
will be a lot different than it is at home!)
Be aware of your specific dietary
needs, especially with new cuisine
and foreign language menus. Eat
new foods in moderation and give
your stomach time to adjust to
• Try a new dish every week
• You probably can’t “get it to go”
• Enjoy the dining experience
• Avoid American fast food joints
• Check out the local markets
• Be cautious of eating from roadside
• Drink plenty of water
Health Abroad: What would YOU do?
Here’s a “what would you do” scenario that we’d like you to consider in
the unfortunate event something similar happens to you.
It’s a few days into your program, and you find yourself very ill.
What would you do? (Our recommendations are on the next slide…)
Health Abroad: What would YOU do?
1. Don’t wait until the last minute to get care!
• If, for example, you wait until Friday or the weekend to get medical assistance you will more than
likely have to go to the emergency room. Depending on what your issue is, this will be a lengthy
process that no one wants to go through while sick. We will also have to get your parents
involved as we are required to contact your parents if you go to the emergency room for any
reason. Getting the care you need as soon as possible will help avoid headaches for everyone
invested in your wellbeing.
2. Contact on-site staff, program leaders, or the insurance company for advice and
• The on-site staff and/or faculty/program leaders can help you make a doctor’s appointment,
locate the nearest pharmacy, and provide useful tips and/or resources for navigating the
healthcare system in another country.
• If you’re not comfortable contacting the on-site staff or program leaders or are travelling on your
own, you can contact the insurance company and they will assist you with making an
appointment or locating a pharmacy/hospital.
3. Take care of yourself and get some rest.
• The last thing you want to do while abroad is stay in bed while the rest of your friends
are having fun. But not giving your body time to rest at the onset of sickness will
just make your condition worse, potentially make other students ill and prolong
the amount of time you feel ill. Let your body rest for the time it needs and you’ll
be up and running in no time!