Health While Abroad

The health and well being of all University travelers abroad is of the utmost importance to the University of Minnesota. While the information below is written specifically for students, all University travelers may find the information and tools provided helpful in making informed decisions to manage their health while abroad.

Find more health abroad resources at Travel Resources: Health.

Prescription Medications

The University recommends that all students have a routine check-up with your primary care physician before you go abroad to discuss your continuation of care plan, including prescription medications.

  • Students should bring enough of their prescription medication for the duration of their program in original bottles with the prescription (translated into the local language, if possible) in your carry on luggage. If your U.S. health insurance only allows a few months of prescription to be filled at a time and this isn't enough for your program abroad, it is often helpful to call the insurance company and ask for an exception. A copy of your acceptance or confirmation from your education abroad office will often assist with your request.
  • Some prescription medications available in the U.S. are illegal in other countries, including common medications for the treatment of ADHD and anxiety/depression. Check the U.S. Department of State Consular Information Sheets for the country(s) you intend to visit or consult your international health insurance company. If your medication is legal, ask your health-care provider to write a letter on office stationery stating the medication has been prescribed for you and for what purpose. If it is not legal, you should work with your health-care provider to prescribe an alternative, legal medication several months prior to departure.
  • If you have a medical condition that is not easily identified (diabetes, epilepsy, severe allergies), obtain and wear a medic alert bracelet while you are abroad and consider translation. Inform your education abroad office, traveling companions, and onsite staff so that they can be prepared in case of an emergency. Be sure to discuss a plan with your health-care provider before you leave home.

Mental Health

Many students find that the additional stress of living in an unfamiliar culture and environment can trigger mental health issues, even if the student has no history of such conditions. If you have past mental health conditions or think you may while abroad, you are encouraged to visit with mental or physical health specialists you see regularly to discuss managing your treatment while abroad. University Counseling and Consulting Services can also assist you in planning for and preparing for your study abroad experience.

Don’t underestimate the impact that cultural adjustment or being in a foreign environment can have on your mental health. Being away from support networks, such as family and friends, can also be more stressful than expected. Ups and downs are normal during study abroad, so it is good to pay special attention to your health. The Center for Global Education has developed a great resource for maintaining good mental health while abroad.

If you have questions regarding medical resources and mental health professionals onsite so you can continue any care while abroad, contact your Education Abroad Office. If you are not traveling through an Education Abroad Office, contact Kevin Dostal Dauer at dauer001@umn.edu.

Travel Clinic

All students should visit a local travel clinic, in addition to meeting with their primary care physician and any relevant mental health professionals, prior to departure. A travel clinic specialist is trained to consider your health history, current medications, drug allergies, required immunizations, and travel plans when recommending shots and other medications.

Find a travel clinic and make an appointment as soon as possible so that you can get a scheduled appointment in time to complete any recommended immunization series. Many travel clinics often book far in advance (especially around the holidays), and some immunizations need to be started months in advance of your departure. Thus, you should call to make your appointment at least three months before your travel date.

For UMTC Campus students, student services fees cover consults at Boynton Health Services International Travel Clinic; however, prescriptions and immunizations are an additional cost. Students can also contact their private U.S. health insurance provider to identify a travel clinic and fully understand their insurance coverage. The Minnesota Department of Health also provides a list of international travel health clinics serving Minnesota residents.

Additionally, the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) provides a listing of its member clinics by state. For more information about ISTM or a listing of clinics and doctors in your area, contact ISTM by phone at 770.736.7060 or email at bcbistm@aol.com.

International Health Insurance

All students and faculty or staff traveling abroad for University purposes or on University business are required to carry University-approved international travel, health, and security insurance. For more information, visit the International Insurance page. Contact Kevin Dostal Dauer at dauer001@umn.edu with questions.

Health Information Form

All students participating on programs through one of the University’s Education Abroad Offices are required to complete a Health Information Form either for the University or the program provider. The purpose of the form is to help students make informed decisions to manage their health abroad and to assist the education abroad office staff, program leader (if applicable), and any onsite staff to make any necessary preparations and be advised of any health issues. The information will only be shared as necessary and with appropriate professionals to ensure students’ well being. Students are encouraged to complete the form completely and honestly. If you have already completed the form and would like to share additional health information, please contact your education abroad office staff member.

Note: Information collected on the University’s Health Information Form does NOT affect your admission into the program.

Students not traveling through an education abroad office will not complete a health form through the University but may be asked to do so by their independently chosen program sponsor.