Food and Water Safety

For many, the cuisine is an important part of experiencing a new culture. Enjoying local delicacies is part of the adventure, but eating certain things could make you very sick. Many countries don’t have the same food handling and preparation standards found in the United States. Consider the following suggestions to help you remain healthy abroad:

  • Always use bottled water (even to brush your teeth) unless you are assured the tap water is safe. Also, if tap water is not safe, neither is ice, and you should be wary of salads, as the uncooked greens may be washed in tap water.
  • Stay away from raw foods, dirty restaurants, and “street” food.
  • Avoid Western food establishments as the locals may not know how to cook or prepare Western foods the way you are used to.
  • Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t drink anything you did not open yourself or that you didn’t see being opened.
  • Always watch your drink at parties and bars and get a new one if you leave your unfinished drink unattended.

Illness While Abroad

All study abroad students are required to possess adequate international health insurance for the duration of their program. Many times, this will require an additional policy to cover you while outside of the United States, as most U.S. medical insurance plans do not include coverage outside of the United States. 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 and 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.

Should you become ill while abroad, log on to your international health insurance website and utilize their tools to find a doctor or pharmacy near you. If this is a non-life threatening medical condition that requires visiting a doctor, call the doctor’s office first to state your issue, ask if they are accepting patients, and ask whether they accept your international health insurance and what their billing or payment options are. Schedule an appointment once all of your questions have been answered. If you have to pay for the visit out of pocket, be sure to log on to your insurance account and fill out a claim form to request reimbursement for services.

Let the program administrator in your host country, the HPU Office of Global Education, and your parents know if you are ill or require assistance.