Health Tips Abroad
We recommend students take the following steps to stay as healthy as possible while abroad.*
Read international health insurance information
All students traveling on UW-Stout sponsored study abroad programs are covered by the mandatory health insurance policy through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). The cost is included in the study abroad program fee. Students who wish to extend their travel before or after their study abroad program dates can purchase additional coverage directly through CISI. Read the CISI Policy Brochure for detailed coverage information.
Get a medical examination before departure
Before a study abroad experience, students should have a general physical completed by their primary care provider, especially if they are taking prescription medication or are in regular treatment. The UW-Stout Student Health Center can perform physicals, as well as administer or write prescriptions for vaccines and/or medications that are recommended for traveling abroad. This examination is especially important for those who have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma.
It is the students’ responsibility to ensure that their routine immunizations are up-to-date, to ask their healthcare provider if there are recommended and/or required immunizations or medications for the country(ies) they will visit, and to review educational resources relevant to their personal health and safety. We encourage students to check with their physician or UW-Stout Health Services to see if there are any recommended vaccinations or if they have questions regarding their medications abroad. A great resource for travelers' health is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Meeting with a physician 4-6 weeks before departure can ensure that students have the necessary vaccinations, medicines, and safety information.
Disclose and plan for health conditions and disabilities
It is important for students to disclose any health conditions as well as past or current treatment or medications on the Medical and Disability Self-Assessment Form in the study abroad post-acceptance process. If students have a health condition, we strongly encourage them to develop a medical management plan with their physician, Health Services or the Counseling Center because changes in air quality, elevation, diet, climate and geography/topography, as well as stress factors related to culture and language, can exacerbate symptoms.
OIE is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, and education for individuals with disabilities. We encourage individuals with disabilities to contact Disability Services as soon as possible to discuss accommodation needs and options. Some accommodations may require a minimum notice of six months.
Read about travel stress and shock
Travel stress or “culture shock” is a normal developmental phase of adjustment to a new cultural environment. It occurs when one’s values and typical ways of viewing the world clash with the values and viewpoints of the new culture. Be familiar with the symptoms of cultural adjustment in order to identify problem signs and seek help if needed. Sometimes students find that the stress of adjusting to another country can make it more difficult to manage a mental health problem that was well managed in the U.S. Other students may experience an onset of a mental health issue for the first time while abroad. If students find that problems are becoming more severe rather than getting better, they should ask for help immediately.
Be familiar with local health services
Know how to access health services, both for non-emergency routine care and emergencies. If it is necessary to seek medical treatment while abroad, make sure to request and keep any medical records and receipts for the treatment, as they may be needed to submit for insurance reimbursement.
Do not use drugs and use good judgment if consuming alcohol
Alcohol and drug use carry serious health, cultural and legal risks for all travelers. Drugs are illegal in most countries of the world, with very severe penalties. Alcohol may be legal in the host country, but it is still important to consume it safely. In addition to these issues, alcohol and drug use can lead to disciplinary actions with the Dean of Students Office. Please review and be aware of the University of Wisconsin System Administrative Code/Policies, UWS Chapter 17:
UWS Chapter 17—Non-academic Misconduct (illegal drug use and alcohol, dangerous conduct or violation of university rules and criminal law).
Stay healthy - mentally and physically
An important part of maintaining health while abroad is eating and drinking properly – stay hydrated in particular! Remember that in addition to the cultural and emotional adjustments students will be making, students’ bodies will be adjusting to a new climate, new time zone, new food, etc. and eating right, exercising and getting rest will help ease that adjustment.
Engage in healthy relationships
The “rules” of dating vary from culture to culture. It is important that students consider their behavior and inform themselves as best as possible about how dating and relationships generally function in the host culture. In addition, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent everywhere in the world. To protect themselves, students should not have unprotected sex. We encourage students to be cautious about their sexual activity while abroad.
*For information related to our office's response to COVID-19, and our continuing efforts related to study abroad and the epidemic, please visit the Office of International Education's COVID-19 Updates page.