It is important to invest some time well before departure familiarizing yourself with special health issues related to your country/continent of destination, or caring for yourself in the light of a personal health condition. Understanding the basics of your medical insurance coverage while abroad is essential . Likewise, becoming informed about safety abroad is important. Your pre-departure and on-site orientations will seek to provide important information and guidance on these issues, but invest some personal time becoming informed.
Health and wellness start before you go abroad. It is important to research the country in which you will be studying to be aware of any health concerns that may be present and actions you can take to avoid putting yourself at risk. Likewise, you should be aware of your own mental and physical health in order to take proper care of yourself and to stay well abroad.
You should complete all individual appointments well in advance of your departure date, including immunizations and assessment of special health problems. You also need to take care of doctor or dental check-ups that would fall within the time overseas. It is important that you know and take with you any of the following information that applies: blood type, eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions, prescriptions for medications being taken (written in generic terms), and a doctor's statement about any special health problems.
Pre-existing Medical Conditions
Students with any pre-existing medical conditions, physical or mental, should inform the Office of Study Abroad and their program provider so we can assist you in making arrangements for appropriate medical attention or special needs. You should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs.
If you are currently taking medications:
- Be sure to take enough for the duration of your stay. You may not be able to find the same medication overseas. Pack medication in your carry-on bag, rather than your checked baggage.
- Keep an original copy of the doctor's prescription with your passport.
- Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Students should check with the foreign embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics.
- It is advised that you take your own syringes if you require regular injections.
- If you have a special medical condition, it is a good idea to buy a medical alert bracelet.
- If you just can't live without certain specific, over-the-counter medications, ointments, etc., be sure to take enough to last your entire trip.
Some vaccinations may be required to enter certain countries. Other vaccinations may be suggested, but not required. Check with your local county health department for suggested and required vaccinations to enter countries where you may be traveling. The Allegheny County Health Department can be reached at (412) 578-8060. You can also find listings of required and suggested vaccinations, general information on health concerns in all parts of the world, travel medicine clinics, and providers at the following websites:
- The Center for Disease Control
- International Society of Travel Medicine
- Travel Health Online
- World Health Organization
All students studying abroad are required to obtain the College's international health insurance which is administered through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). The Office of Study Abroad will assist with this process. As of fall 2014 the cost of this insurance is $39 per each month you are abroad. For full insurance coverage details (including claim form, brochure and enrollment instructions), please contact the Office of Study Abroad.
Even though you will be obtaining international health insurance, please keep in mind that it is recommended that your home medical insurance coverage should always remain in place while abroad.