HEALTH AND SAFETY
Your health and safety during your study abroad experience will depend in large part on the choices you make and precautions that you take prior, during and following your time overseas. Before your departure, make sure that you are in good health; get any immunizations that are required and learn as much as you can about the health and safety conditions in your host country. Then adjust your behavior so that you can take precautions to protect your health and safety. An excellent resource is the Center for Disease Control website.
Be sure to have a physical and dental check-up before you go, especially if you will be gone at a time when you would normally schedule these appointments and/or you will be studying in a developing country. This will give you an opportunity to talk with your health care professionals about any general health precautions you need to take or pre-existing conditions you may have. Students that have complicated travel itineraries (e.g. travel to rural areas of developing countries) or have medical problems that will need to be managed while abroad are especially advised to consult a healthcare provider who specializes in travel medicine.
If you take prescription medicine regularly or expect to take any while abroad, you should try and take a sufficient supply along for your entire stay abroad. Check with your insurance provider before departure to ensure that you are able to order multiple supplies of your prescription at once. Be sure to keep all prescription medications in the original bottles to facilitate clearance through customs and have a copy of the written prescription with the drug's generic not U.S. brand name.
If you cannot take the medication with you, then you need to make arrangements prior to your departure. Some countries restrict importation or supply of certain medications that are commonly prescribed in the U.S.; so check with the consulate, embassy or the study abroad program. If you take such a controlled medication, it will help to bring a copy of your medical records and a letter from your doctor stating the specific ingredients of the drugs in the compound as well as the amount and length of time you will be taking the medication.
GLASSES OR CONTACT LENSES
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, take an extra pair with you and the original prescription. Contact wearers may want to consider taking extra bottles of solution as costs for these items overseas can be quite steep.
Check with the Center for Disease Control for the recommended immunizations for the country in which you will be studying.
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE/AIDS/HIV
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (including gonorrhea, genital warts, and herpes) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrom (AIDS) are significant problems around the world. While the easiest mode of HIV transmission is through blood contact with a HIV-infected person, the most common mode of transmission is through sexual intercourse. Since AIDS knows no geographic boundaries, avoiding infection relies on appropriate preventive behaviors. The best advice to avoid exposure to the AIDS virus is to abstain from sexual activity. If you choose to be sexually active while overseas, health professionals recommend the proper use of latex condoms. Information concerning HIV and AIDS prevalence in different countries may be found at the Center for Disease Control website .
Since illegal drugs or narcotics may be more available overseas than in the U.S., many people assume that their use is condoned and that drug laws and their enforcement in other countries are more lenient than in the U.S. These assumptions are not true. In most countries, prosecution for the possession, sale and use of drugs and narcotics by foreigners as well as locals is severe. Aid from the U.S. embassy will be limited to providing a list of local attorneys and contacting a family member in the U.S.; then, the offender is on his or her own. Do not use illegal drugs or narcotics overseas. If you attend a gathering where people are using drugs, leave.
Be prepared for minor health problems with a home medical kit. This should include: