Check Up Time: Visit Your Doctor Before Studying Abroad

No matter where you study abroad or how long you’ll be there, it’s important to get a health check-up before you leave. Scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician and any other health professionals you see on a regular basis will help you stay healthy during study abroad, even if you don’t have any major health concerns. Since you’re going to be away from your regular providers, make sure you consider the following essential healthcare needs for the weeks to month you’ll be in your host country. 

Students gather during an internship session at a local hospital in Costa Rica.

Review prescriptions 

You don’t want to be abroad without medication, do you? Check with your Program Advisor and CISI insurance contact about how much medication you can take with you and plan accordingly. If you can, bring what you need to get you through your study abroad. Otherwise, do some research on how to get your medication in your host city and how much it will cost. Trust us, you really don’t want to wait until you need your medication to figure this out!   

USAC Chiang Mai students learn how to cook Thai cuisine.

Address any undiagnosed conditions or concerns 

If something about your health is bothering you, don’t put it off until you return home. Let your doctor know your concerns and discuss your healthcare. Don’t set yourself up to stress about your health throughout your study abroad if you can avoid it.  

Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock and Mental Health During COVID-19
A student meditates in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Talk about your mental health 

A healthy lifestyle includes frequently checking in on your own mental well-being. If you haven’t been assessing your well-being, now is a great time to start, and loop your doctor in on how you’re doing. If you both determine you should speak with a mental health professional, it’s better to connect with someone before your departure date. 

While abroad, your on-site staff will be able to connect you to a mental health professional; however, you may feel better having attended a session or two in your hometown.  

If you’re not experiencing any mental health problems, it’s still a good idea to discuss common challenges associated with culture shock to help you prepare for your study abroad.  

Anna smiles behind a mask while riding the London Eye.

Make a care plan 

Setting up a self-care plan with your doctor can help you manage mental or physical health conditions, new or existing, during your study abroad. Talk through some of these common student concerns and scenarios to help you prepare. 

  • Experiencing anxiety abroad 
  • Running out of medication while travelling 
  • Experiencing pre-existing condition flare ups 
  • Struggling with culture shock 
  • Falling ill away from home 

Keep any important information, such as Rx numbers and dosages or your mental health professional’s phone number, in a journal or phone app for easy access. Even if you think your health is in tip-top shape, it’s a good idea to check in before leaving. You won’t regret it! 

The staff at HealthNet in Khon Kaen, Thailand that offer international health internships for students
USAC students and staff gather in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

Last but not least, don’t hesitate to contact your support team at USAC before or during your study abroad — they’re available to help you stay healthy and safe while abroad. This includes your Program Advisor, Health and Safety team, and your on-site staff. Your team can help you navigate many challenges, from translating your symptoms to a pharmacist and helping you file an insurance claim, to talking through the ups and downs of culture shock and life abroad, and so much more. Reaching out to your team as soon as you need assistance will provide them with ample time to help you find a solution to any problem you are facing. 

Want to explore more health and safety resources? Visit our website before and during your study abroad.