Health Abroad

Health Abroad

Being abroad will often disrupt your normal routines.  As soon as you arrive, you will have to adjust to the time zone, the food, the sleeping arrangements, the people, you name it! This can be stressful adjustment for you, both physically and mentally. It is important that before you leave, you consult your physician and other health care providers for advice on how to maintain a healthy life style while abroad, especially if you have any medical or psychological conditions.

Students with Disabilities or Special Needs

If you have a physical/mental condition, illness or limitation, please contact us immediately to let us know the nature of your condition.  Even if you are sure you have your condition under control, it is best to alert us so that we can take any precautions necessary to ensure your safety and well-being.  Sacred Heart does not discriminate against students with disabilities or special needs and encourages participation in a study abroad program.  Disclosing to us will have no effect on your acceptance but will rather help us to be better able to help you find a program or accommodate a program to your needs.

You are encouraged to contact  the Jandrisevits Learning Center and our Special Services staff as early as possible at (203) 365-4730 so that they can work with you and the OSA to identify appropriate program options and necessary on-site supports.  Working with facilities abroad can take time and can often be frustrating, so the further in advance that we know of your condition, the better able we will be to serve you.  If you wait too long to make us aware of any special needs, we may not be able to accommodate you.

Mental Health

Traveling abroad can be stressful.  You will be out of your comfort zone without your friends and family’s constant support.  This can often be a challenge for students.  If you are currently seeing a therapist our counciselor, we highly recommend talkng to him or her about how you can continue your sessions or plan an alternative counseling while you are abroad. We strongly encourage students, who are currently receiving or are interested in receiving counseling to contact contact the SHU Wellness Center for assistance. 

Physical Health

If you any chronic conditions, make sure to ask your physician for advice on how to manage your condition while abroad. You can always contact the SHU Wellness Center for assistance. 

We recommend that you share any relevant medical information with one overseas contact, especially in the case that your condition is difficult to detect in an emergency (i.e. diabetes, asthma or a drug or food allergy) You are also advised to wear a medical bracelet, written in English and the language of your host country.

Vaccinations and Prescriptions

You are required to have all vaccinations up-to date and to have had all destination-required immunizations completed before your departure. 

If possible, you should bring enough medication for your entire time abroad. If this is not possible, consult your doctor on how to obtain your medication while abroad. You should keep all medications in their original containers. You should also bring copies of the prescriptions with the generic name and a signed note from the prescribing physician.

Be sure to research your medication before you go abroad to learn if it is available and legal in your host country. Remember the laws of your host country apply during your time abroad.  For information regarding the translations of prescription drugs and their availability overseas, please consult the HTH website.  HTH staff can assist you with any questions you may have regarding importing medication, or the availability of specific medications in your host country.

Remember to also bring a copy of your eyeglasses prescription, enough contacts lens and contact solution for the entire program and a pair of eyeglasses. If you only wear eyeglasses, bring an extra pair in case of loss or damage.


HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). AIDS is a disease that causes a weakening of the immune system. HIV can be spread through infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions. If you are sexually active, use a condom to avoid contracting HIV or any other Sexually Transmitted Infection. In countries where HIV is a concern, avoid getting any piercings or tattoos. If you become sick or injured while abroad, try to avoid a blood transfusion or any injections until you return home. If it is necessary to your health, try to ensure that needles are properly sterilized and that the blood has been screened.

Some countries require a HIV test for entry. Even if your country does not require an HIV test, if you have any reason to believe that you could be infected, you should be tested.. For information on HIV testing counseling please visit the Wellness Center web page. 

Avian Influenza ("Bird Flu")

 The Avian Influenza commonly referred to as Bird Flu, is spread amongst birds; however, in a few cases humans have become infected.  It is most directly contracted to humans by contact with infected poultry, or by indirect contacted with surfaces that have been contaminated by the feces of infected poultry.  Cases of the Avian Influenza are spread throughout parts of Asia.  While abroad, it is best to avoid direct contact with live or dead poultry.  For more information, please refer to the WHO website.

H1N1Influenza ("Swine Flu")

H1N1 Influenza is commonly referred to as Swine Flu. Like the seasonal flu, H1N1 is spread directly through coughing, sneezing and talking to an infected person; it is spread indirectly through touching a surface that an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth or nose. Symptoms range from mild to severe. In the most severe cases, H1N1 can lead to hospitalization or death.

Upon arrival at the airport some countries screen travelers for H1N1. You may be detained at the airport if you have a fever or other flu-like symptoms. If you are sick, postpone your flight in order to protect yourself and your fellow passengers.  For information on prevention and treatment of H1N1, please refer to the CDC website.


Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne disease. It can be contracted when the infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. Its symptoms include but are not limited to weakness, weight loss, fever, night sweats, cough, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood. Without treatment an infected patient will die. TB treatment can be successful if completed within 6-12 months of infection. Without a completed treatment, TB may become drug resistant. Multidrug-Resistant (MDR) or Extensive-Drug Resistant (XDR) are relatively rare.

You should be careful particularly if you are traveling to a place with high risk of TB (these areas include crowded hospitals, prisons, and homeless shelters). The Center for Disease Control suggests that if you are traveling to a place with a high risk of TB you should get a tuberculin skin test (TST) before departure and again, 8-10 weeks upon returning to the US. For more information please refer to the CDC website.

Study Abroad Health Care Kit

 We advise you to bring a supply of basic health care items abroad. Items in your wellness kit can include:

  • Allergy medicine 
  • Antacids (Rolaids, etc.)
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antifungal cream (for women prone to yeast infections)
  • Aspirin or acetaminophen
  • Birth control supplies (condoms, spermicide, etc.)
  • Contact lens solution
  • Decongestant (pills or syrup)
  • Motion sickness medicine (Dramamine)
  • Insect repellent (with DEET)
  • Moist towelettes, sunscreen
  • Throat lozenges
  • Vitamins

Country Specific Health Concerns

It is important to update yourself on any health concerns in your host country. Educate yourself on health issues and diseases that may be prevalent in your host country in order to better protect yourself and to have a better understanding of some of the common inflictions in your host country.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is an excellent source of information. You can find the most updated information on country specific information on diseases, water precautions and required/recommended vaccinations. For more information, please refer to the CDC website.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also offers extensive information on health conditions and prevalent diseases in each country. For more information.  For more information, please refer to the WHO website.