Education Abroad
Preparing to Depart

Staying Healthy Abroad

  • Adapted from CIEE's Knowledge series of informational brochures

    Before You Go

    Assess and Address Your State of Mind

    Going abroad is not an end-all, cure-all for problems back home. In fact, it can often exacerbate those issues. The uncertainty and emotional stress associated with going abroad can compound existing problems, sometimes spurring manageable problems into crises. It is, therefore, necessary that you address any concerns with physical or mental health prior to going abroad. Be honest with yourself and others in this process, as it will be vital in your success abroad.

    Identify Your Health Needs

    It is your responsibility to disclose health requirements or concerns to Seattle University and/or your program provider prior to departing so proper accommodations and safety measures can be put in place. All SU-Sponsored participants must complete a health evaluation in the pre-departure process, but all students, regardless of their program, should consider doing the same. You should visit your physician (or the SU Health Center), your dentist, and any other health professionals you see regularly to ensure you leave healthy.

    Know Before You Go

    There are many health-related things you’ll need to know about your host country, from the quality of water to laws governing the import of medications. You should consult:

    • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention to determine necessary vaccinations, potential health risks, and recommended precautionary measures.
    • An Education Abroad Advisor if you have special health needs, including students with disabilities or who require special accommodation. Please also consult the Disability section of our webpage for more information.
    • The U.S. Department of State International Travel Information page on your host country. 
    • The Local Health Department in your host country or your Physician to determine if your medications and medical supplies are available overseas. If not, it is critical you carry an ample supply with you in addition to copies of your prescriptions.

    While Abroad

    It’s Different, Prepare for Some Adjustment Time:

    Expect jet lag- and a little culture shock. It’s likely your body will undergo some shocks, emotional and physical, as you adjust to your new diet, new lifestyle, and new home. When you first arrive, it is essential you continue taking any medications you were taking prior to departing. Drinking plenty of water, eating well, and exercising can also help in the adjustment process. Realize that feeling anxious, uncomfortable, impatient, or confused are to be expected, as are emotional highs and lows. Time generally solves these problems, but if they persist, consult with the Education Abroad Office, a close friend, or seek help from a counselor or doctor.

    Voice Your Concerns and Needs

    It is important to voice your health needs while overseas. When you arrive, ensure that your program provider/director knows of any special health condition or needed accommodations. They may be of assistance in locating doctors, on-campus support systems, or university personnel who can help you. If health issues arise during your time abroad, make sure to voice your concerns to people in your host country who you feel safe talking with and who may be able to direct you to resources to assist you.

    After Returning

    Coming home is an exciting and challenging time, much like going abroad. Many U.S. students undergo what is called “reverse culture shock” as they readjust to their life back home.

    Self-Evaluate & Moderate Your Expectations

    You’ll have discovered a lot of new things while studying abroad. Realize how those new experiences may have changed you. Also realize that your family and friends back home did not have the same experience nor did they undergo the same changes you did. Be prepared to realistically face issues that arise in your relationships and your daily life.

    Stay Engaged

    Visit the Returnee page to see ways to stay engaged after you return. And remember that your journey of transformation, growth, and excitement does not end when you land in the United States- find creative ways to continue to be engaged and explore within your own community.