Get Well

Thinking about studying abroad?

by Shweta Shreyarthi, blogger

(Courtesy of

We’ve all heard that studying abroad can be one of the most memorable experiences a college student can have.  When else will you have a chance to pack up your bags and move to the country of your choice?

But maybe it’s not as easy as it sounds.  You’re not just packing up your bags and leaving the country; there are certain precautions you have to take no matter where you’re going.

  • Get all the necessary vaccines: Some countries require more vaccines than others. Check with a site like to learn more about what you need for your trip.
  • Meet with a health professional to discuss risks: When you’re meeting with them, make sure to ask questions about any concerns you might have.
  • Make a travel health kit: Throw items like sunscreen, insect repellant, antibacterial, and any necessary medications in some sort of container and carry it with you whenever possible. You never know when you’ll be stranded and need it.
  • Research clinics and hospitals in the surrounding area: Know where to go if an emergency arises. The government also keeps a list of doctors and hospitals that are available to Americans abroad.

It’s best to follow these precautions if you want to be safe; nothing is worse than being sick abroad and having no medicine or clue where the closest doctor’s office is located.  By taking the time to do this, you can prevent many illnesses.

Another issue that often comes up that can make or break your trip is the prevalence of diseases in a lot of popular study-abroad countries.

Popular places to go for SU study-abroad program include China, Italy, England, Spain, Chile, Turkey and France.  Check out recent epidemics that have been floating around these countries!

  • China: The bird flu, (make sure to be careful if visiting a bird or poultry market, and don’t consume uncooked/undercooked products coming from birds, whether it be meat or eggs); Malaria (take the antimalarial drug, always use bug spray, and try to cover up as much skin as possible, use bed nets); Measles (get the readily-available vaccine)
  • Italy: TBE (transmitted through tics so when you go outside, spray some insect repellant with the ingredient DEET, wear long-sleeves and check for tics after being outdoors)
  • England: Hepatitis B (get the vaccine); rabies (get the vaccine if you will be an area with bats, if you’re going to work with any sort of wildlife, it’s best to get the Rabies shot)
  • Spain: Leishmaniasis (so you should avoid insects because they’re the carriers of this disease)
  • Chile: Typhoid (drink bottled water and avoid buying edible treats from street vendors; this disease occurs through contaminated food and water)
  • Turkey: Malaria and Dengue (spread through insect bites, so like a lot of these illnesses, avoid bugs!)
  • France: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob: (transmitted through exposure to horse meat)

It’s a lot to take in!  Anywhere you go, you’re going to be taking a risk, but knowing what to watch out for will put you in much better shape!  So pack up, and enjoy what the rest of the world has to offer!

But it doesn’t just end here— the CDC recommends keeping tabs on your health when you get back into the states.  If anything seems out of sync or you just want to be sure, appointments can be made with infectious disease doctors or travel medicine doctors to make sure you’re fine!