Before going abroad, make sure your student gets a complete physical, dental, and eye check-up 6 weeks before leaving. Inform yourself of all health risks, endemic diseases, food/water precautions and US CDC-recommended travel immunizations. Know where the best hospitals and clinics are located in the country in which your student will be visiting and studying in. Have a copy of all local program contact information. Make sure you have a valid passport and a visa for the country where your student will be studying.
UCEAP Travel Insurance
UCEAP students are automatically covered by the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is separate coverage from the student’s UC campus health insurance plan (SHIP), or private insurance. There is no need to take action to activate coverage.
More information about insurance, including a link to the insurance card, claim forms, benefit details, policy brochure, extension of insurance, the affordable care act (ACA), gap in coverage before or after the program, can be accessed through the UCEAP website, Participants
country portal -insurance
tab and within the Insurance
section of this website.
Managing Existing Medical Conditions Abroad
Physical health is essential to student well-being and success abroad. Students begin to receive information about health matters during pre-departure orientation and are required to obtain a health clearance before they can participate in UCEAP. For some locations, students obtain additional country-specific details through an online travel course which includes special location-specific health information, instructions, and advice in order to prepare for healthy and safe participation in their program.
Parents are encouraged to communicate with their student who will need to anticipate any health issues that could arise while abroad. With advanced planning, students with pre-existing medical conditions can identify whether adequate health care resources are available in their chosen destination before they depart. Information about local medical care will also be provided by the host university staff during the on-site orientation.
While living abroad can present special health challenges; forward planning, country awareness, appropriate preventive measures, and careful precautions can substantially reduce the risks of adverse health consequences abroad. Please refer to the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and the country-specific pre-departure checklist for more details.
In the event of an illness or minor injury, your student should contact the UCEAP or partner institution local staff for referrals to local medical care. In the event of a medical emergency only, your student should proceed to the emergency room of a local hospital, contact the UCEAP or partner institution local staff and United Healthcare Global Assistance at +1-410-453-6330 international collect.
As a parent or family member, you may be the first person your student will reach out to when in distress or struggling. We encourage you to help your student recognize symptoms, reach out for help from local staff, and learn strategies to manage mental health issues. Being aware of what options are available while abroad is central to identifying the most effective support available for a healthy and rewarding time abroad. Talk to your student before departure and make sure you and your student understand local resources. This is particularly important if your student is traveling with medication. Encourage your student to reach out to the local UCEAP or partner institution staff in case of any mental health concern. UCEAP will work with your student to find necessary support services where available.
It is not unusual for students to face some form of stress over the course of their academic experience, including while they are studying abroad. The stresses of travel and life in an unfamiliar setting can exacerbate existing mild psychological disorders or initiate the onset of new conditions. Most students are generally able to cope, but for some, these experiences can become overwhelming and unmanageable.
When living in a new country, students can experience culture shock. Without their friends and family support, students may encounter an initial feeling of isolation that will fade within three weeks. Sometimes culture shock feelings do not subside.
Students with a past history of mental health should share this during their health clearance appointment so the clinician can work with UCEAP Systemwide to identify sources of continued treatment while on UCEAP.
Disabilities and Chronic Conditions
Please refer to important information in the UCEAP website, Disabilities
Culture shock and homesick feelings are normal. It is easy to become worn down from physical and mental stress due to the vastly different environment. Most students expect to quickly adapt to the new culture—and they need to adjust rapidly if they are to effectively meet the academic demands placed upon them. Culture shock is a normal developmental phase of adjustment to a new cultural environment. It is not a psychological disorder, but can result in an unexpected emotional response. Most students who experience culture shock function reasonably well and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life. Strong emotional reactions are normal responses to abnormal situations and are to be expected under the circumstances. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope.
UC, Federal, and State privacy laws protect and ensure the confidentiality of medical information. UCEAP cannot require students to disclose a health diagnosis for which they have been, or are being treated before their departure, even if continued care is recommended. If your student begins to experience physical or mental health issues after arrival at the program location, they should contact the local staff immediately.
If you believe that your student is experiencing serious distress, contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office immediately. Refer to the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad for more information.
Accidents, Illnesses, and Injuries
While accidents are by definition unplanned, students can still plan to stay safe, especially in a foreign country. Accidents and injuries do occur, and cannot always be avoided. Fortunately, prior knowledge, common sense, and situational awareness can help keep your student safe while abroad. Being proactive and prepared by learning about your student’s destination can help prevent common accidents and injuries.
The biggest cause of illness abroad is related to minor health issues, and accidents, including traffic injuries and those from recreational activities. Often these incidents could have been prevented with proper planning and information about health and safety risks in the destination country or activity.
Second to routine or unexpected health problems abroad, road accidents are commonly reported. Lack of familiarity with local roads, driving on the opposite side of the road, lack of safety precautions, even safety as a pedestrian can increase risks. Unsafe roads and vehicles with inadequate transportation infrastructure contribute to the traffic injury problem in some countries. In many of these countries, motor vehicles often share the road with vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycle users. The mix of traffic involving cars, buses, taxis, rickshaws, large trucks, and even animals (on one road or in a single travel lane) increases the risk for crashes and injuries.
- Consult with a travel medicine specialist to learn about potential risks, required vaccines and even what kind of insect repellent to pack.
- Know what to avoid and how to get help if needed.
- Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, blood type, any chronic illnesses, any current medications, and any allergies.
- Pack copies of personal medical records so local doctors can provide the best treatment possible.
- Be prepared to pay out of pocket at the time any medical services are obtained while traveling.
- Do not drive a motorized vehicle: Traffic patterns and rules of the road are different. Insurance coverage and liability insurance requirements differ.
- Do not engage in activities that require concentration until you have adjusted to the new time zone.
- Know the public transportation quality of your travel destination.
- Be cautious while using public transportation.
- Know where to find competent medical care abroad (contact your local UCEAP or partner institution staff and/or US embassy).
- Be prepared for language and monetary differences which can be confusing.
- Wear a medical ID bracelet to indicate any serious medical conditions or allergies. Know whom to call and where to go in case of an emergency.
Parents and students are encouraged to research safety resources before the program to assess and reduce personal risk and prevent accidents. There are many useful safety information resources for international travelers, including road safety checklists and country-specific driving risks:
For information about local road conditions and public transportation, visit:
Traveling with Medications
Students are responsible for making arrangements with their physician to have enough medicine while abroad.
In some countries, drugs that are legal and readily available in the US are considered illegal, require a prescription, or may arouse suspicions among local officials and customs and immigration authorities.
Students are advised to check any regulations that may apply to transporting medicine out of the US, and into their host country. Different countries have different rules and regulations about the types of medicine they allow to be taken into the country and the maximum quantity permitted. Some medicines available over the counter in the US may be controlled in other countries and vice versa.
Do not plan to mail medications to your child abroad. Mailing prescription and over-the-counter medication is not recommended as it may be illegal in some countries. Customs officials may stop the shipment or charge prohibitive fines.
Some prescription medications are illegal or unavailable in other countries. Your student has been instructed to check their UCEAP Program Guide and the International Narcotics Control Board
for required documentation and country restrictions. Also, contact the Embassy of the country or countries your student is planning to visit to confirm whether required medications are not considered illegal. Find a list of foreign embassies and consulates that have a presence in the US here
If your student's prescribing doctor advises against taking a large supply of medication, he/she should provide a note with the diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen so that an overseas physician can consider filling the prescription locally, provided the medication is licensed and legal in the country. In some cases, the local physician may conduct an examination to confirm the diagnosis before filling the prescription provided by the US doctor. Some local doctors may be hesitant to prescribe the same dosage.
For more information, refer to the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Selecting safe foods in the US may be easy, but a foreign menu can have many unexpected ingredients and the label will be in the local language. Encourage your student to follow these recommendations:
- Consult with a travel medicine specialist before departure.
- Plan ahead, have an emergency care plan, and a letter from your doctor that confirms your food allergies and medications. Carry the documents with you at all times.
- Research all your travel destinations.
- Always be prepared for a worst-case scenario.
- Careful preparation will make your trip safe and enjoyable. Make sure you have all the medicines you need for the duration of the trip and a few extra days in case of unexpected travel delays.
- Consider wearing medical alert identification indicating your allergies.
- If you have to take any medications for your condition, make sure to carry it at all times. This means antihistamines and epinephrine if you have a serious food allergy. Do not pack this medication in checked baggage.
- Find out how to talk about allergies in the local language.
- In a restaurant, do not assume that just because the wait staff has informed you they know how to deal with food allergies that your food will be safe.
Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health