Office of Global Citizenship

Staying Well

Staying physically and mentally well is important to making a study abroad experience successful. Travelling and living abroad is both exhilarating and tiring. When combined with the challenges of being in a new culture and new ecology, study abroad participants can become susceptible to illness and exhaustion. To help stay mentally and physically well, here are some suggestions:

  • Acquire prescription drugs to cover the period of study abroad trip (prescriptions may not be easily filled in other countries) and receive appropriate immunizations before you go. The CDC has excellent information about vaccinations and other health considerations for travel abroad.
  • Wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer.
  • 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.
  • Do not share drinks and food with others in order to spreading illnesses with other study abroad participants and friends.
  • Stay away from raw foods, dirty restaurants and “street” food.
  • Eat well. Be sure to consume adequate vegetables and fruit while traveling, but also be wary of eating raw vegetables and fruit that may have been washed in unsanitary water.
  • Avoid Western food establishments as the locals may not know how to cook or prepare Western foods the way you are used to
  • Get adequate sleep and stay hydrated.
  • Stay connected to fellow students on the program and local friends who you meet. Those connections will help stabilize your social interactions, provide security, and monitor your mental well-being.
  • When facing mental wellness challenges, notify the on-site study abroad director, Sewanee’s Dean of Students or wellness center, or local counselors.
  • Maintain your exercise routine when possible to benefit your physical and mental well-being. Having a workout partner is also a great way to socialize and learn about others from a host culture.
  • Walk to destinations that are not far away.
  • Use insect repellent when visiting areas that have diseases spread by mosquitos and other insects.
  • Do not engage in unprotected sex. Depending on the availability of reliable condoms in the host country, bringing a supply from home may be helpful.
  • If of legal age, limit alcohol consumption. Avoid drug use. Alcohol and drug use make one physically susceptible to illness and can have severe criminal consequences in your host country.
  • Sewanee carries health insurance for students while they are abroad. Should you become ill while abroad, log on to the 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 doctors, call the doctor's office first to state your issue, ask if they are accepting patients, ask if they accept your health insurance and what their billing or payment options are.  Schedule an appointment once all of your questions have been answered.

The CDC also has an excellent guide to staying healthy while studying abroad.