Staying Healthy Abroad

It is important for you to stay healthy while you travel! The Office of International Education (OIE) provides all students with information on resources and country-specific advice either in online requirements or in mandatory orientation meetings.

In addition, a health questionnaire that asks about medical conditions, accommodations, allergies, and dietary constraints is required of all students to help OIE staff and faculty leaders keep students safe and healthy abroad.

Personal Health Questionnaire

To inventory what concerns you have or try to prevent issues occurring while abroad, please take a look at the categories below. Take note of which ones concern you and think about what steps you need to take or resources you need in order to avoid problems and to make your study abroad experience the best it can be.

Please talk to the OIE, your physician, or the campus health center for advice and additional resources.

  • Ability/disability issues
  • Alcohol and/or drug use and abuse
  • Allergies
  • Contraceptives
  • Dental care
  • Dietary concerns
  • Exercise
  • Emergency resources

  • Gender-specific health care
  • Health advisories
  • LGBTQ health questions
  • Mental health and culture shock
  • Medication/supplies
  • Sexuality
  • Sleep patterns
  • Smoking
  • Vision prescriptions

Tips to Stay Healthy

Below are a few tips for you to try and stay healthy while abroad:

Monitor Your Health

When you travel, you encounter different climates, foods, water, and bacteria than you are used to and many people who go abroad have more ailments than usual. These are usually minor (colds, sore throat, gastrointestinal issues) and with general medication can last only a few days.

TIPS
  • Drink Water! Keep hydrated- make sure to get bottled water, not tap unless it's safe to do so. Many hotels and host families will have big containers of water to fill up reusable bottles as well.
  • Rest! Make sure to get enough sleep and don't exhaust yourself.
  • Eat! Try to eat healthy food (be wary of street food, wash all veggies & fruit thoroughly) and at regular intervals. Try to match the eating time patterns of your host country.

    If you have specific dietary concerns, make sure you talk to your coordinator and research your options abroad (as well as talk to others with similar concerns!). Learn a culturally sensitive way to handle social situations where you are served a meal that doesn’t meet your diet requirements.

  • Battle Jet Lag! You will be tired after long flights, try to sleep on the plane if you can and follow the natural day/night pattern of your new location.
  • Exercise! Inevitably you will walk more abroad than you usually do at home. Be prepared, wear good shoes, and get those steps in!

    If you already exercise regularly, find a place to safely continue your routine abroad (or try something new!)

Mental Health

Study abroad is a significant experience (and an exciting one!) As with all major life events, your abroad experience may worsen or precipitate mental health conditions. If you experience adjustment difficulties or feel that your emotions are affected (or notice this in another student), make sure to seek advice from your family, program coordinator, mental health professional, or primary care physician.

Sexual Health

Take measures to protect yourself against STDs/STIs (including HIV) while abroad by practicing safe sex. Always use condoms or other protection and approach new partners with at least as much caution as you would at home.

Alcohol & Drugs

If you decide to drink alcohol abroad, do so in moderation. Intoxication can result in poor academic performance, higher risk behavior, and/or regretted sexual activity. In many serious accidents and deaths involving students overseas, excessive alcohol consumption plays a role. Don't become a statistic.

In addition to the health risks of using drugs, as a foreigner you may be targeted by the most unscrupulous of all the suppliers. If drugs or their contaminants make you sick, you will also find it much more difficult to get medical care abroad (not to mention the legal consequences!)

Resources

UWGB Counseling and Health Center

Center for Disease Control (CDC) Traveler Site

StudentsAbroad.com Basic Health & Safety

U.S. Department of State

World Health Organization