Your well-being is the most important factor to consider while you are abroad. It is important to evaluate your health needs as you research programs and destinations of interest to you. Investigate the host culture and the climate in the area of the program you are considering keeping in mind any conditions such as asthma and allergies. Even if a health issue is currently under control, the stresses and/or new environment abroad may exacerbate the condition or make symptoms reappear. To help prepare for your travel, there are several different things to keep in mind such as meeting with your physician, insurance abroad, what to do in case of an emergency, and other health factors.
You must be covered by comprehensive international health and accident insurance for the duration of your program abroad. You must also maintain US domestic health insurance while you are abroad. Most study abroad providers require that you enroll in the program’s international health insurance plan, so you should check with your program to find out whether this applies to you. Hopkins provides international health insurance coverage for students participating on the Hopkins Departmental Programs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides general traveler health guidance, as well as destination specific information on its website. This includes tips on what to pack, information about vaccines and medications, and travel notices about current health issues related to specific countries.
Consult with your health care providers (e.g. physicians, counselors, insurance providers, travel clinics) to ensure that you are medically prepared for your time abroad. Johns Hopkins strongly encourages students to disclose any medical or mental health concerns to their program providers early in order to find local resources. Here is a checklist of things to consider before leaving to study abroad:
- Update childhood vaccinations
- Consult your physician, a travel clinic, or the Centers for Disease Control regarding recommended vaccinations for your study abroad destination and any potential travel destinations
- If you take any regular medications, consult with your physician and insurance company about how to provide an adequate supply for the duration of the program
- If you have any pre-existing medical conditions that will require treatment while abroad, confirm with your study abroad program that adequate treatment will be available on site
- If you have sensitivity to certain climates, conditions (such as asthma, allergies), investigate the conditions in the area of the program
- If you have dietary restrictions or food allergies, inquire about whether they will be problematic or difficult to accommodate within the host culture
- If you have physical or learning disabilities, investigate whether the host country or university can offer accommodations
- If you have mental health concerns that could require treatment abroad, consult with your treating doctor or counselor about preparing for the experience and with your program about the availability of counseling services in English in your host country