Study Abroad, as with any major life change, (regardless of length of time, location, etc.) has the potential to heighten pre-existing medical, mental health or personal issues or contribute to new ones. Local culture, custom and practices may not have/provide the support systems you might be accustomed to in the U.S.
It is your responsibility to consider how you will manage your health and wellness while you are abroad. For example, you may need to consider your dietary restrictions, allergies, medications, need for immunizations, etc.
When you are selecting an overseas program or preparing for your departure, here are some things you should consider regarding your health and wellness:
- Medications (Over-the-counter vs. Prescription, Refills, etc.): Are my current medications legal in the countries I’m traveling to? Will I be able to bring enough to cover my full stay or get something similar/equivalent in country?
- Allergies (Peanuts, shellfish, bee stings, etc.): Will I be exposed to potential serious allergens? How will I work to reduce my chances of or treat an exposure?
- Meal Restrictions (Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, etc.): Will I be able to identify and obtain alternative meal substitutions? How will I communicate my meal needs in the host culture?
- Mental health (ex. Stress, Depression, Anxiety, etc.): How is my mental health condition viewed in the host culture? What kinds of resources and support will I have available to help me manage?
- Physical health and mobility (Asthma, Diabetes, Walking aids, etc.): What kind of environment will I be living and studying in and what kind of activities will I be participating in that might be affected by my physical health and mobility? What sort of adjustments or support would I need to participate successfully?
- Sexual health (Public Displays of Affection, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, etc.): What are the values and customs regarding romantic relationships in my host culture? What sexual health risks should I be aware of and how do I protect myself?
- Drugs/Alcohol: (Tainted drinks, synthetic drugs, drinking age, etc.) What are the values and customs regarding drugs and alcohol in my host culture? What health and legal risks should I be aware of?
- Learning disabilities (Dyslexia, ADHD, tutoring, etc.): How are my learning disabilities perceived in the host culture? What sort of accommodations or support would I need to participate successfully?
- Environment of Program (Climate, Altitude, etc.): How will the weather and terrain of my host country affect my health and wellness?
- Interpersonal relationships (Roommate issues, significant other back home, homesickness, etc.): Will you be studying, living and traveling with the same small group or will you be completely alone on your program? How might you cope with these situations and what communication resources will you need to be successful?
Below is a list of RIT health and wellness related resources available on campus which may assist you before, during and after your experience abroad.
- Academic Support Center
- NTID Counseling and Academic Advising Services
- Office for Diversity and Inclusion
- Multicultural Center for Academic Success
- Counseling and Psychological Services
- Student Health Center
- Center for Women and Gender
- Center for Religious Life
- Q Center
- Disability Services Office
- Access Services Office
International Health Insurance
Most domestic health insurance policies don’t provide coverage outside your home country and may limit their coverage to a certain geographic area. RIT requires all students studying abroad to have international health insurance. The vast majority of students never have to use it, but it is good to have just in case. Students going abroad on an RIT study abroad program will be provided international health insurance. Read more
Country Specific Health Information
- World Health Organization - the United Nations' health summary from each country
- Center for Disease Control - get a recommendation of what vaccines you may need depending on the country, what health/disease risks may be present and how to protect yourself
- State Department - Travelers’ Health - information from the U.S. State Department on vaccines, prescriptions, insurance, and finding medical help abroad
General Traveler Health
- Center for Global Education - Health & Safety - information on basic health and safety for students abroad
- Traveling with Medication - provides some guidelines to follow
- Traveling with Medication - another helpful article
- Food Allergies while Traveling - purchase professionally translated cards to carry while traveling
- Preparation for Traveling with Mental Health Conditions - resource guide from Mobility International
- Center of Global Education – Adjustments and Culture Shock
- How to Deal with Culture Shock - traveler's tips for surviving culture shock
Studying abroad will expose you to all kinds of new and exciting experiences. Though this is a time of broadening your horizons, it is important that you exercise caution in order to be as safe as possible while overseas. Before traveling you should become familiar with local laws, how to avoid travel scams, and understand RIT's emergency response plan.
- RIT's International Emergency Response Information
- Register for the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) (must be a U.S. Citizen) - receive important safety information about your travel destination
- How To Prepare & Deal With An Emergency Abroad - article from GoAbroad.com
- Emergency Phone Numbers Abroad - resource to find the 911 equivalent in your host country
- Fire Safety Abroad - fire safety standards may vary in other countries - this guide will outline some fire safety tips when traveling abroad
- Center of Global Education - Strategies to Reduce Risk - avoid being a crime target when you're abroad
- How to Spot Tourist Scams - keep an eye out for these scams when traveling abroad