Medical Needs and Accommodations

Medical Care Abroad  
At some point during your time abroad, you may become ill. It may be something simple, and related to changes in food and water, insufficient sleep, or stress of travel. It is essential that you give yourself time to adapt. Jet lag, a new language, exotic foods, registration, beginning classes, and even changes in the weather can take their toll. Use the same stress-relief techniques you use at home—exercise, meditation, reading, etc. Prolonged periods of stress can be quite harmful and hinder your adjustment and health.

Learn how to get medical help, whether routine or emergency, before the need arises. The on-site program staff will help students contact an appropriate physician or other services when attention is required.

If you are currently using professional help to deal with emotional or mental health concerns, talk about your plans to study abroad with your care provider before making the final decision to go. The challenges of adjusting to a new environment coupled with the absence of a familiar support system may exacerbate existing problems. Above all, if you think you are in need of assistance while on the program, let your on-site staff and GEO know as soon as possible. Should you need professional services abroad, your program staff can help to make arrangements for services that may be covered under the program insurance.

If you need to purchase medication while abroad, local pharmacies should be available. However, if you need a specific prescription medication, you may not be able to find it at a local pharmacy, or you may need a prescription from a local doctor. If you are taking prescription medication, the best solution is to make sure you bring an adequate supply of the prescribed medication that you will need for the duration of the program. Bring prescription medicine in its original containers. It may also be helpful to bring along an additional prescription written in the host country’s native language should you lose your medicine and need to replace it. Also, It is recommended that you bring your own basic medicines for headaches, colds, coughs, stomach aches, hay fever, diarrhea, and so on.

You should plan to bring an adequate supply of all prescription medications with you from home. Pack all medicines in your carry-on luggage and in original pharmacy containers (with Rx labels). Make sure you have made all of the necessary prescription arrangements with your primary physician before traveling abroad. Also, be aware that it is illegal in most cases to send prescription medication through the mail. In the event that you run out of your prescribed medications while abroad, your family/friends will not be able to send you an additional supply through the mail.     

Please note that some countries have restrictions and regulations on medications that differ from the U.S. Some medications that are allowed in the U.S. may be illegal in other countries. Make sure to research whether specific medications that you use in the U.S. are allowed in your host country. The following links have some guidance on traveling with medications abroad:

OSAC- Traveling with Medication

NYT- How to Make Sure You Travel With Medication Legally
Accessibility and Accommodations
Communicate with GEO staff well before the program starts if you need specific medical services or accommodations made during your program. Planning and clear communication are the best strategies towards being successful while abroad. For example, if you have a documented disability, communicate with your GEO advisor and your Accessible Education advisor in order to identify specific needs. GEO staff can then then follow up by researching and confirming whether specific accommodations can be arranged at a given program location.