Staying Healthy While Studying or Interning Abroad
When I went abroad, I had many questions about health abroad. What if I got sick? How would I find an English-speaking doctor? Would insurance cover it? What is medical care abroad really like?
It is good to ask these questions when considering going abroad! Your health is nothing to mess around with. And while you might be worried that studying abroad might affect your health, most students come to find out that living in Europe, with respect to health care, is very similar (and some may even say better!) to the health care you receive in the USA!
By getting your questions answered before you go abroad, you’ll feel much more prepared and confident in having an amazing experience. While you should discuss any individual questions, you may have with your selected program and doctor, below are some tips that everyone can follow to maintain health abroad:
- Get a physical, see a dentist, and obtain any prescriptions you may need while abroad before you leave. In other words, don’t forget the basics! (And if you were wondering, there are usually ways to get enough of your prescriptions to last the full semester. Or, some students bring refill instructions and have a doctor in their new country give a local prescription!)
- While you’ll want to try the new and exciting foods available in your host country, make sure you are still choosing to eat food that is healthy and provides all the nutrients your body needs! This is important at home and equally important abroad.
- Take a vitamin C supplement. This is based on my personal experience. Vitamin C supports the body’s immune system, so as you prepare yourself for the new experience abroad, don’t forget to prepare your body as well! Of course, if you have any concerns about adding vitamin C or any other supplements to your diet, be sure to speak with your doctor first!
- Drink plenty of water. Ensuring you stay hydrated, especially during the beginning of your experience (and on the plane!), will help your body in its adjustment to your new surroundings. Be sure to check if the tap water is safe to drink, and if it isn’t, drink bottled water. (Hint: In most places in Europe, the tap water is fine to drink!)
- Get plenty of exercise. Staying active isn’t only important for your body, but it’s a great way to relieve some stress. Many gyms offer short term memberships and/or student rates!
- Don’t ignore your feelings. Moving to a new culture means you’ll get to experience lots of new and different emotions! If you have a bad day or just need to take some ‘me time’ to better adjust to your new host country, by all means do it! This is okay! Everyone handles new situations differently, and everyone has good and bad days at home too! Just because you go abroad does not mean you should stop taking care of yourself. Your on-site coordinators have spent time abroad as well, and they know the amazing emotional roller coaster you are on. Don’t be afraid to talk to them and/or other students on your program. And of course, if you would ever feel like you need professional help, your study abroad program is there to help connect you to an English-speaking counselor!
- Keep a packet of tissues and some hand sanitizer with you in your purse or bag. You’ll never know when these two items will be a lifesaver!
- Get enough rest. Once you arrive, try to adjust to the new time schedule and ensure you are sleeping enough. While it’s often tempting to take every extra minute to go see some place new, it is not advisable right away. Sleep is important for your body to maintain itself, so try to stick to some sort of sleep schedule throughout your program.
- Enroll in international health insurance. EZC Study Abroad provides health insurance for all program participants while abroad. Having insurance to cover unexpected illnesses or accidents is simply necessary. Investigate your program’s insurance, and if you feel you need more coverage, buy it before you leave!
In the end, nothing beats asking your questions and discussing any concerns you may have with your program. Have a question? Ask us at info at ezcstudyabroad dot com or ask us to arrange a phone call with you to answer your questions!