While You're Abroad

The Office of International Programs

While You're Abroad

Adjusting to a New Culture

The process of encountering and adapting to a new cultural environment can be alternately exciting and challenging. No two students adapt at the same pace or in the same manner; Knowing that challenges related to cultural adjustment will not last forever is comforting, and it is important to have certain supports in place to minimize their impact:

  • Don’t isolate yourself. Explore your host city, don’t just stay in your housing.
  • Keep in touch with friends back home but also reach out to people in your host country.
  • Recognize your limits and allow yourself to take time for self-care.
  • Remember to eat and get enough sleep. Jetlag and exhaustion can impact mood.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, be mindful of your use.
  • Expect to feel upset, nervous, frustrated at times and recognize ways to cope. You will face similar challenges abroad as you do here – journaling to track how long these feelings last can be very useful.
  • Remember, culture shock is natural. Low points may not necessarily be your condition worsening or may not be related to your diagnosis at all.

Safety Abroad

Make yourself familiar with the safety conditions of your host country and any other countries you plan to visit. Most large cities as well a remote areas, in the U.S. and abroad, suffer from common crimes. The Travel Safety Information for Students Abroad prepared by the Department of State has resources that you might also find useful.

Transportation & Travel

Getting Around

Driving conditions, customs, and etiquette vary around the world. Traffic related accidents are the leading cause of student injuries while abroad. As most countries have safe and reliable modes of public transportation, we strongly discourage you from driving while abroad.

Only use taxis from a company recommended by a trusted local or sanctioned as an official company. For ridesharing apps, use only the most recognized rideshare companies in a specific region.

Personal Travel

Whether traveling on a program or independently, you need to take personal responsibility for your academics and your own health and safety. Participants are to maintain the following travel expectations:

  • Travel plans should not interfere with the timely completion of coursework, assignments, and exams for your academic program.
  • You are expected to attend all the classes you are registered for.
  • Your on-site staff should be informed of your travel plans including how to contact you in case of an emergency.
  • If you are unavoidably delayed in returning to your program site, contact on-site staff.
  • Keep your family and/or emergency contact back home updated on your travel plans.

Mental Health Abroad

We are committed to supporting study abroad for all students. This support includes students who are managing various mental health concerns. Just as cultures differ, so does the degree of access to counseling and mental health services in the many countries and communities a student might consider for their study abroad experience. Certain medications that are legal in the United States may be illegal in other countries. Many students have successfully studied abroad with existing mental health conditions.

Because of the importance of your mental health while adjusting to a new place, school, and distance from everything you know, we have a page dedicated to your mental well-being while you are abroad.

Pre-Departure Planning

Before you go abroad, there are several steps you can take to make sure your experience is as successful as possible.

  • Meet with your mental health care provider here in the United States. Discuss whether now is an appropriate time to study abroad; talk about ways to plan for culture shock. Identify what kind of accommodations you may need and how you plan to get medication/treatment while abroad. Talk over methods for keeping in touch with your provider if possible. Discuss an emergency plan in case of any crisis that could occur while abroad.
  • Talk to your support system that you have at home. Plan how you will be able to get in touch with friends and family while abroad.
  • Research cultural practices and mental health in your host country. You may also wish to do this before you select your program. Just like in some places here in the United States, stigma may still exist around mental health and people may have different perspectives regarding mental health.
  • Research your host country in general to prepare for what culture shock you may experience while abroad.
  • Review this website about medication and international travel if applicable. Remember some medications that are legal in the U.S. are not legal in other countries and you may not be able to take them in country or have them sent to you.
  • Contact your insurance company to get enough of your medication for your entire time abroad. You should not plan on getting prescriptions filled while abroad or having the medication mailed to you.

Protect Your Health

Missing a unique cultural experience because you’re stuck in bed with a travel related illness or injury is probably not part of your plan for a great experience. Prepare for a safe and healthy experience by following the CDC travel and health recommendations. Recommendations are available by destination or topic at the CDC website.

The CDC provides various recommendations such as:

  • Eat well, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. An important part of maintaining your health is eating and drinking properly to stay hydrated.
  • Try not to take risks with your health and safety. Respect your host location and its people by following local laws and customs.
  • Do not use illegal drugs and use good judgement if you consume alcohol.
  • Use sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection and take precautions to prevent mosquito and other bug bites.
  • Practice good hygiene by regularly washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and staying home if you are feeling ill.

OnCall International Insurance Overview

It is important for you to review and understand your OnCall International insurance plan and all exclusions to your coverage. Your insurance coverage is in effect for the duration of your program and applies if you travel to other locations during that time.

OnCall coverage can be used for emergencies, accidents, illnesses that occur while abroad as well as assistance with mental health issues.

Once you are officially enrolled in your OnCall coverage by our office, you will receive an email from OnCall with a link and download instructions for the OnSolve app.

Some countries require that foreign students participating in study abroad programs purchase local health insurance in that country. You are responsible for purchasing this insurance if it is a requirement for the country where you will be studying. Students participating on these programs are still required to have OnCall coverage.

Any injuries sustained while taking part in certain high-risk activities (including bungee jumping, mountain climbing, parasailing, motorcycle racing, scuba diving, skiing, and sky diving etc.) are not covered by OnCall.

Payment for Health Services

Doctors and hospitals outside of the U.S. often expect immediate cash payment for health services. You may need to pay up front for medical expenses and send a claim to OnCall for reimbursement.