Study Abroad

Staying Safe and Healthy Abroad

Preparing for Health and Safety Abroad



Health & Vaccinations

International Health Insurance Information

Getting medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be very expensive, and, if you need it, a medical evacuation back to the U.S. can cost more than $50,000! While the U.S. consular officer at your local embassy can assist in locating appropriate medical services, informing family or friends, and even assist in the transfer of funds from back home, ultimately, payment of hospital and other expenses is entirely your responsibility.

All study abroad students are required to possess adequate international health insurance for the duration of their program. If you plan to travel abroad prior to or following your program, you are encouraged to obtain insurance for those periods as well. You are required to maintain your domestic insurance in the United States and should not terminate your existing coverage.

When securing health insurance coverage, realize that most U.S. medical insurance plans do not include coverage outside of the United States—adequate coverage many times will require an additional policy to cover you while abroad. Contact your provider to ask about coverage. If your plan will not cover you abroad, consider other companies such as GeoBlue Travel Insurance or iNext International Insurance who offer international insurance for study abroad students. Premiums are affordable, often around $2/day.

Your coverage should be comparable to what’s required for study at HPU and must include emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. Review an example of international insurance provided by iNext to see if your private insurance is comparable.

Visit the U.S. Department of State’s website for a list of travel medical insurance providers.

Vaccinations & Medical Tests

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the national public health institute of the United States and offers valuable resources to American travelers abroad on their Traveler’s Health website.

As a student on a High Point University study abroad program, it is your responsibility to check the CDC website to see what, if any, vaccinations and/or medical tests are recommended or required for your travel destinations. It also is your responsibility to schedule and obtain any vaccinations and/or medical tests before you travel abroad.

Know that some vaccinations may be time-sensitive and require more than one visit to obtain. Vaccinations and medical tests are not included in the program fee of your study abroad program so you will want to factor their fees into your total participation costs. Contact the HPU Student Health Services as well as your home physician and/or a travel clinic for more information as some vaccinations and exams may not be able to be provided on campus.

Please keep in mind that there are different categories of vaccinations of which you should be aware:

  • Routine Vaccinations. Be sure that you are up to date on your routine vaccinations. These normally consist of the vaccinations you need to live on campus at HPU and are necessary for protection from diseases that are still common in many parts of the world even though they rarely occur in the United States.
  • Recommended Vaccinations. These vaccines are recommended to protect travelers from illnesses present in other parts of the world and to prevent infectious diseases from crossing international borders. Which vaccinations you need will depend on a number of factors including your destination, whether you will be spending time in rural areas, the season of the year you are traveling, your age, health status, and previous vaccinations.
  • Required Vaccinations. Currently, the only vaccine required by International Health Regulations is yellow fever vaccination for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ghana, and tropical South America, such as Ecuador. In addition to vaccinations, other countries may require medical tests, such as an HIV test, prior to entry.

Mental Health Abroad

Studying abroad is not a cure for existing mental health conditions and most likely will make existing conditions worse by adding stress, unfamiliarity, culture shock, language barriers, and removing oneself from their normal support system. If you are struggling with a mental health condition, it is important that you discuss with your doctor your intended study abroad plans, including to which countries you plan to visit, what you will be doing, and the length of your program, before making a decision about studying abroad.

Medications and Prescriptions Abroad

If you are taking any prescription medications, ensure you have all the proper documentation for bringing your medication into your host country. We recommend you visit your doctor at least a month before departure to make sure you are fit to go abroad and that any medication complications are resolved. Not all medications approved in the U.S. are legal in other countries, and some countries have stricter regulations than others. This is especially true of AD/HD and other psychotropic medications. Check with the local embassy to make sure that your medication is acceptable to carry and/or mail into the country. Speak with your doctor, especially if your medication is not legal in your host country, about the possibility to switch to another medication. Your international insurance provider also can provide help answering these and similar questions.

If your medication is legal, you must:

  • Bring your medication in its original containers, which should be clearly labeled and prescribed to you, not a friend or family member. Bring over-the-counter medications in their original, clearly labeled containers, as well.
  • Bring a copy of your prescription.
  • Bring enough medication for the duration of your time abroad.
  • Bring a note from your doctor explaining your medical condition, the medication, and why you are carrying such a large supply.
  • Be sure to bring all of these things in your carry-on luggage to present at customs. Do not pack your medication in your checked baggage. It is important to have all of these documents on hand so your medication is not held up at customs. It can be very difficult and costly to get a new prescription in your host country. It may also be illegal to have any medication shipped to you.
  • Under no circumstances should you share your medications with others. This could be illegal in your host country and penalties could be more severe than in the U.S.


If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, insect bites, or other unique medical problems, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information on the Health Information & Emergency Treatment form. You also may want to consider wearing a “medical alert” bracelet. Talk with your doctor to determine what should be the required medical treatment for your allergies. You also may wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining any necessary treatment. If you take over-the-counter allergy medication, you will want to research the availability of your medicine abroad.

It is a good idea to learn how to say what you are allergic to and to describe your allergic reaction in the language of your host country.

Dietary Restrictions

Your host country’s gastronomy may differ significantly from what you are used to. If you have dietary restrictions, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information on the Health Information & Emergency Treatment form.

Learning how to say what your dietary restrictions are in your host country’s language will help you to obtain the food you can eat and avoid the food you cannot. Research the food available in your host country, and do not assume that the food you want or are used to eating will be readily available.

Traveler Safety

United States Department of State

The United States Department of State offers valuable resources to American travelers abroad and has created a website dedicated to American college students studying abroad: As you prepare for your program, and while you are abroad, check their website for easy registration with the nearest U.S. Embassy and the most up-to-date information including travel and safety tips, warnings, alerts, world-wide cautions, individual country profiles, and country-specific updates.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Before all travel, register your plans with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). You also may access the STEP program enrollment from the U.S. Department of State’s website by clicking on the blue suitcase with the white check mark or from the State Department’s dedicated smart phone application.

Be sure to include all ways a consular officer can contact you, which may include residence hall phones, hotel phones, cell phones, etc. If there is an emergency in the States or in the location to which you are traveling, the consular official will use those numbers to contact you directly.

Travel Alerts & Warnings

The U.S. Department of State provides detailed information about particular countries and their current safety situations. Be sure to review the Travel Warnings webpage for up-to-date information about the locations to which you plan to travel.

Consular Services

The United States Embassies and Consulates offer valuable resources to U.S. citizens traveling abroad. Located throughout the world, it is important to know which embassies and/or consulates offer consular services to assist you should you need them. These services include, among other things, emergency assistance, answers and clarification to non-emergency questions, and replacements for lost or stolen passports.


LGBTQ Travel Information

Attitudes and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) persons vary from country to country, just as they vary among U.S. cities and states. Most LGBTQ travelers encounter no problems while overseas, but it helps to be prepared and research your destination before you go. If you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, it is very important to consider what the local attitudes, beliefs, and laws are in your host country in regards to LGBTQ issues. Some countries abroad have much more liberal views than the U.S. on these issues and provide greater rights and legal protection to LGBTQ individuals. Other countries have more conservative views on sexual orientation and identity and provide little or no rights or legal protection to the LGBTQ community. In many countries homosexuality remains a crime and can result in harsh punishment.

Some Important Questions for LGBTQ Students to Consider:

  • Do I plan to be out as LGBTQ while I am abroad?
  • Is it safe for me to be out in my host country and city?
  • Is homosexuality legal in my host country?
  • Is identifying as LGBTQ culturally acceptable in my host culture?
  • Are there LGBTQ organizations at my host university or in my host city?
  • Do I have concerns about my housing situation?


Gender Roles Abroad

Gender roles differ from culture to culture, and even within cultures. It is important for you to consider how you identify with your gender and how your gender may impact your experience in your host country. This is important for both men and women, and is especially important if you identify as transgender or gender-queer. Your gender may impact how and with whom you are able to interact, how others perceive you, what you can wear, and where you can go. It may afford you greater or lesser privilege than you enjoy in the U.S. There may also be differences in how locals are treated based on gender and how foreigners are treated based on gender.

Some women from the U.S. are surprised by greater levels of equality of women and men in certain countries. Others struggle to integrate in a culture where women are expected to assume more traditional roles in the home. Men from the U.S. may be uncomfortable if they enjoy certain privileges in the host culture which women on their program do not.

Some important questions to consider about gender:

  • What are the dominant attitudes and perceptions about my gender in my host culture?
  • Will there be new or different expectations of me based on my gender?
  • What are the cultural norms about appropriate dress for my gender?
  • Are there any specific safety issues related to gender in my host country?
  • Are housing and other facilities gender-queer and transgender-friendly?

In addition to researching information ahead of time, it is important to speak with and take cues from your local counterparts in the host culture. Observe and follow their behavior and dress when appropriate.

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities are encouraged to disclose their disabilities early in the process of planning a study abroad experience. This will allow for sufficient time to investigate a number of options for programs that meet academic interests and to explore the availability of accommodations prior to making a program selection.

In researching programs, consider the following questions:

  • What accommodations do I anticipate that I will need on a study abroad experience?
  • Do I have special housing or dietary needs? How will these be met?
  • Do I need classroom accommodations, such as extended time on tests or note takers?
  • Is the program I am considering equipped to provide these for me?
  • Do I need specialized equipment in order to access the curriculum of the program? Will my current equipment work abroad?
  • Are there physical accessibility issues that need to be worked out? How likely is it that I will be able to participate in the group activities of this program?
  • How physically demanding will this program be? What if I can’t meet the demands of this program?
  • If you use a service animal, investigate the policies of the host country regarding the allowance of service animals into the country. Will the host country make allowances for service animals?
  • Do I take medications that are illegal in my host country?
  • How accessible will the transportation into and around my host country be?

It’s important to remember that local law governs equal access to people with disabilities and that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are not in force outside of the United States. Some countries may not be as accommodating as others. In some countries, mobility is restricted by sidewalk conditions and public transportation, and accessible housing options are scarce. Please feel free to discuss your needs with Academic Services and the Office of Study Abroad before applying to a specific program.



The Office of Global Education is located in Cottrell Hall, Suite 142. Building #12 on the HPU Campus Map.

Phone: +1 (336) 841-9280

Click here to meet our staff.


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