North Central College - Naperville, IL

Physical & Mental Health

Suggestions to Staying Healthy Abroad

Program Specific, Medications, Insurance, Daily Health, & Mental Health

Be Happy Be Healthy


Program & Country Specific

• Check with the Centers for Disease Control what vaccinations, medications, and pre-departure health recommedations are required/suggested before you leave for your host country. CDC website:   Determining and getting required and recommended immunizations or medications is your (the student's) responsibility.

• Know how to say any allergies you may have in your host language. It is a good idea to also know how to say these allergies in other languages if you are traveling to different countries or regions while abroad.

• Familiarize youself with possible natural, environmental dangers that you are not used to. For example, strong water currents and undertows, hot and strong sunshine, plants, insects, and animals.



• Pack anti-diarrhea medication. It is normal to experience stomach discomfort for the first 1-3 weeks you are in your host country. Food is prepared differently and different spices are used everywhere in the world. Give your body time to adjust before assuming it's an emergency.

• Pack insect repellant contacting DEET and long-sleeved cloting to avoid insect bites.

• Have any and all medications (prescribed and over the counter) in their original container with letters from each prescribing clinician and the Office of International Programs at North Central College. Should you need a letter or have questions regarding this, please contact Kimberly Larsson ( or Whitney Ewing ( They can be reach by phone at:  (630) 637-5289 and (630) 637-5899.

• Should you need/have letters for prescribing medication, keep these in your carry-on luggage with you, as they are considered important documents. Leave copies of these letters at home with your emergency contact(s) should they need access to this information.

• Calculate the amount of medication you will need to avoid running out while you're abroad. Should you need to extend you prescription, contact your insurance provider and prescribing clinician about authorizing a prescription that covers for several months or your duration abroad.

• Determing the generic names of your prescription(s) so that an equivalent version of the drug can be located in your host country in case of an emergency.

• Detemine your host country's regulation for your medication(s). This is your (the student's) responsibility. Should you have any questions, please contact Kimberly Larsson at

• If you have diabetes, find out your airline and host country's regulations on needles and travel. Should you required proof or a letter to travel with needles or specific medication, you will need to speak with your prescribing clinician and insurance provider.

• Do your research beforehand and prepare your own list of important numbers and contact information of your home health clinicians. Should you need to contact them while abroad for any reason, you already have their contact information for easy access.

• Visit your family doctor and any clinicians you see for one last check-up before you leave.

• Before you depart for your program abroad, have a check-up with your dentist in case there is something that could be a cause for concern shortly into your program.



• Familiarize yourself with your EIIA health insurance (i.e. primary insurance through NCC) and your personal insurance (i.e. secondary insurance through your work or family). What do these policies cover while you're abroad? How do you file a claim should you need to? Do your emergency contacts know your policies? More information on your EIIA coverage, the policy, and filing a claim can be found under "Insurance" in the left-hand navigation bar.

• Register with the U.S. Department of State's S.M.A.R.T. Traveler program. You can sign-up online and is used in case an emergency (e.g. health, natural disaster) occurs at home in the States or abroad. You can learn more and sign-up here:


Daily Health & Wellness

In addition to all information and suggestions listed above

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Avoid touching animals.

• Only drink bottled or boiled water (developing countries).

• Avoid ice in drinks and foods washed in water (developing countries).

• Avoid food from street vendors (developing countries).

• Only eat fruits and vegetables that can be peeled or that have been boiled (developing countries).

• Do not swim in fresh water (developing countries).


Mental Health

• Stay active! Chances are you will be walking a lot more abroad than here in the States. Staying active will keep you physically and mentally positive and healthy while abroad.

• Light homesickness and culture shock is normal. Know yourself and watch out for your friends. If you or they are showing extreme signs of culture shock or withdrawal from friends, academics, and events, notify the OIP staff at NCC or staff member at your host institution. Sometimes talking to someone or having a professional follow up with your friend can help anyone get through a touch time.

• If you have any pre-existing mental health issues, know that studying abroad will bring about transitions and obstacles for you personally, academically, and emotionally. Have a response or 'game plan' organized with your mental health clinician(s) and family, should you need additional support while you're abroad. To make sure you are thoroughly covered, contact Kimberly Larsson ( or Whitney Ewing ( Kimberly and Whitney can work with your program's international staff overseas to get you information on support you can rely on while you're studying abroad.

• Keep a journal or blog while studying and traveling abroad. Not only is this a good way to keep family and friends updated on your adventures abroad, this can also be very therapeutic. You will have both good and bad days abroad, just like you have good and bad days here in the U.S.! Feel free to jot down those feelings and frustrations.

• Keep in touch with family and friends back home. Skype and smartphone applications like Viber and WhatsApp are great to keep in touch with family and friends, who know you well, back home. While maintaining communication with friends and family at home is important, don't let them distract you from taking advantage of the many opportunities to make new friends and have once-in-a-lifetime adventures overseas. It may be awhile before you go back abroad!




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