Wellness "U": A Study Abroad Pre-Departure Health Checklist

Wellness "U":  A Study Abroad Pre-Departure Health Checklist

Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience.  Students report taking university courses at different countries exposes them to unique and robust cultures.

If you’re a student planning to study abroad, here are some important things to do before you depart.

  1. Health exam
    First, make sure you are in good health.  Schedule a check-up with your doctor a couple months before you leave. 

    This is also the perfect time to get any vaccines, if needed. Depending on where you are traveling to, check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s   website on travelers' health.

  2. Prescription drugs
    If you are taking any prescription medications, follow this advice:
    1. Bring enough of your medicine to last your entire stay (for airport security, medicine needs to be in the original containers).
    2. Bring written prescriptions and a letter from your doctor explaining why you need the drugs.
    3. Ask your physician to write down the generic names of the drugs you are taking because U.S. brand names may not be the same in the country you are staying in.
    4. Make sure the drugs you are taking are allowed in that country. You can do this by contacting the country’s embassy.

      This may seem like a lot of information, but you’ll want to have this figured out before you leave.

  3. Health insurance
    You may not want to think about the possibility of getting sick or hurt when you are traveling,but you need to have a game plan in case you do. One of the first things to do is find out if your health benefits travel with you. If you have coverage through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, you may have access to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Global® Core program   which gives you access to doctors and hospitals around the world.

    You can also look into buying a supplemental health plan either through your university/program or through our offering called GeoBlue  a Blue Cross and Blue Shield offering. Depending on the plan you select, GeoBlue may cover preventive, specialty, inpatient/outpatient, and urgent care all around the world. GeoBlue can also assist with medical evacuations in the event you need help returning back to the U.S. This is very important if you are seriously injured, because you’ll need to use a medical transport rather than an airline to get you home. Medical transport is very expensive.

  4. Copies of documents
    Make photocopies of your ID and other important information in case of an emergency or if your wallet, purse or luggage gets lost or stolen. Make copies of your:
    1. Driver’s license
    2. Passport
    3. Insurance card
    4. Visa (if needed)
    5. Credit cards
    6. Letter of acceptance and contact information for the program
    7. Flight details

Leave one set of copies with your family at home, and bring the second set with you (be sure to store it separately from the originals).

This list should help you prepare for a healthy and safe semester abroad.

Where will the world take you? Login or register to share your travel experience in the comments below.

Sources:Traveler’s Health  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020; GEOBlue Travel Medical & International Health Insurance  2020; GeoBlue https://www.geobluetravelinsurance.com 

Originally published July 20, 2015; Revised 2020

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