According to the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) family guide, most study abroad professionals believe that study in a foreign country is no more dangerous than study in the United States. However, no study abroad program, no matter how professional, experienced, or responsible, can guarantee the health and safety of participants. Just as in the United States, a student's safety depends on them exercising mature and responsible behavior and making good decisions.
The U.S. Department of State provides useful and timely information regarding national and international emergencies, consular information sheets, travel advisories and warnings, and general travel tips. Additionally, they host a site specifically for student traveling abroad.
General health tips to keep in mind before your student studies abroad include:
- Verify that immunizations are up to date and will remain so for the entire time spent abroad. A country-by-country list of required and recommended immunizations can be found at the Center for Disease Control Travel Website.
- Confirm that your student is in a state of good physical and mental health before leaving; be sure all health care providers (ie., doctor, psychologist/psychiatrist, other specialist) have been made aware of the travel plans so that he/she can advise appropriately.
- If prescription medicine is required while abroad, be sure a sufficient supply is secured for the entire stay, or a plan is in place for how to refill the prescription abroad. Medication should always be packed in a carry-on and a copy of the prescription should be carried when traveling. Due to complicated customs regulations, you should not mail prescription drugs, vitamins, or any other type of medication to your student while they are abroad.
- If your student requires (or prefers) certain toiletry items, consider purchasing them in the U.S. and bringing enough along to last the length of the time abroad. U.S. brands may not be available; or, if they are, they may be prohibitively expensive. Feminine hygiene products may be very different, or entirely unavailable, depending on your student's location.
- If your student requires ongoing specialized physical or mental health care while abroad, encourage him or her to disclose these needs to SAIC Study Abroad before leaving.