Know Your Health Status

Living and learning in a different country and environment places additional demands on your mind and body. The emotional effects of adjusting to a new environment and culture can sometimes lead to confusion, anxiety, and discouragement. As a result, you may experience mood shifts that can be stressful. Be sure to take proper care of yourself with the same rest, relaxation, and activities that typically work for you at home, such as reading or exercising and keeping to a regular sleep schedule, to help you best adjust to your new surroundings abroad.

Self-Disclosure of Health Conditions
Students are encouraged to disclose any medical or mental health condition they are experiencing. Self-disclosure of ongoing conditions to your GEO advisor and on the health evaluation form will not influence your acceptance to your desired program.

It is important for GEO staff to know about ongoing medical conditions so that any accommodations that might be necessary can be arranged or so that staff can work with you to best prepare yourself for your time abroad. You are also encouraged to disclose allergies, accommodation needs, food preferences, and mental health or medical conditions to your faculty leader or staff when you arrive at your program location.

If you have a medical condition that could be aggravated by traveling to a different environment (such as asthma in a high altitude city or heat sensitivity in a desert climate), carefully consider how this may affect your experience on the program, as not all environments or program conditions may be suitable for all people.

Health Evaluations
When completing your health evaluation as part of your preparation to study abroad, make sure that you accurately disclose your health status and allergies, disabilities, mental health needs, dietary requirements, and medical needs so that appropriate arrangements can be made in advance of your departure. If you have a medical condition, you should also inform your study abroad program staff so that they can be prepared in case of an emergency.

Other important considerations to take into account when completing your health evaluation requirements include:

  • If the environmental conditions or physical requirements of your program may aggravate an existing condition, you should consider how you will take care of yourself and discuss it with your doctor during your health consultation.
  • Schedule medical appointments with your doctor well in advance to ensure that you are in good health before you leave and to complete all necessary immunizations. Request copies of important records and prescriptions for medications to take with you.
  • If you expect you will need medical care while abroad, take a letter from your primary physician at home, providing details of your medical conditions, care, and specific needs.  GEO can also assist with arranging treatment while abroad.
  • Keep medications in their original containers when traveling and crossing borders. It is recommended that you also travel with a letter from your doctor confirming your prescriptions.

If you have questions about required or recommended immunizations, vaccinations, or preventative care for your host country, the Center for Disease Control website can provide the needed information.

Additional Resources
World Health Organization International Travel and Health