Study Abroad

Pre-departure Health and Safety Information

International travel and living abroad exposes students to new cultures, experiences, health services and safety regulations.  It is important for you to address any health and safety concerns -- physical, psychological or emotional -- prior to going abroad.  Research your host country, meet with your doctor to discuss your health abroad, and contact the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center (GEC) with any questions. 

Personal Information Form

The Personal Information Form (PIF) questionnaire is a required element that asks you to disclose all allergies, medications, injuries, diseases, surgeries, existing mental health conditions, and any special circumstances that may have an effect on your preparation to study abroad. 

Back to Top

International Health Insurance Information

All study-abroad students are enrolled in a Global Health and Safety Services and Insurance Program.  This is a specialized insurance plan for study-abroad students and covers students ONLY for the duration of the program.  If you plan to travel abroad prior to or following the program, you are encouraged to obtain insurance for those periods through an international health insurance provider with a similar program.  You are required to maintain your domestic insurance in the United States and should NOT terminate your existing coverage.  Enrollment in the program is included in the study-abroad program fee.

Prior to the start of the program abroad, the GEC staff will register students for the insurance program.  A copy of the enrollment letter will be e-mailed to your Elon account.  You should print out the enrollment letter, cut out the insurance card, place it in your wallet, and carry it with you throughout the duration of your term abroad.

Once you have received the insurance enrollment letter, you should register online to create a profile and access online resources.  The insurance website provides extensive information on international health and safety, locating doctors abroad, prescriptions abroad, and medical translation guides.  You should familiarize yourself with the site prior to going abroad, especially the benefits and coverage section of the website. 

Full details of the International Health Insurance program for Elon students and more information about Elon's International Health Insurance policy are available on the GEC website. 

Back to Top

Mental Health Abroad  

Studying abroad is not a cure for existing mental health conditions and will most likely make existing conditions worse by adding stress, unfamiliarity, culture shock, language barriers, and removing you from your normal support system.  If you are struggling with a mental health condition, you should carefully consider the challenges of studying abroad, and do not make a decision about studying abroad without first checking with your physician.  You should describe to your doctor your intended study abroad plans, including which countries you would visit, what you would be doing, and the duration of the program.

Back to Top

Bringing Medications or Filling 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 worked out.  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 ADHD medications and other psychotropic medications.  Ask your doctor if your medication is legal in your host country, and if it is not, talk to  your doctor about switching to another medication.  Contact the international insurance provider

If your medication is legal, you must:

  1. Bring your medication in its original containers, which should be clearly labeled.
  2. Bring a copy of your prescription.
  3. Bring enough medication for the duration of your time abroad.
  4. Bring a note from your doctor explaining your medical condition, the medication, and why you are carrying such a large supply.
  5. 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.

Back to Top


If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, or insect bites, or other unique medical problems, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information on the Personal Information Form (PIF).  You may also want to consider wearing a "medical alert" bracelet.  Talk with your doctor to determine what the required medical treatment for your allergies should be.  You may also 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 describe your allergic reaction in the language of your host country.

Back to Top

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 Personal Information Form (PIF).  Certain programs have dietary and food restrictions that will be discussed during the program.  Your program manager will discuss any food limitations or restrictions during the program-specific orientation. 

Learning how to say what your dietary restrictions are in the country's host 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. 

Back to Top

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It is YOUR responsibility to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or a travel clinic to see what, if any, immunizations and/or medical tests are routine, recommended, or required for your host country.  It also YOUR responsibility to obtain any immunizations and/or medical tests before you travel abroad.  Be aware that some immunizations require more than one dose spread over time, so do not wait until the last minute to check on your immunization needs.

More information on the Elon Annual Travel Clinic is available on the GEC website.

Back to Top

Health and Safety Resources

Elon Study Abroad Health and Safety Resources         

Other Study Abroad Health and Safety Resources

The U.S. Department of State website contains government-sponsored information regarding travel abroad, individual country profiles, travel alerts, travel warnings, and worldwide cautions.  We strongly encourage you to review the information posted here and take advantage of the following Department of State links and services:

  • The Students Abroad website provides government-sponsored information about study abroad.
  • Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to provide the Department of State with information that can be used to better assist you in the case of an emergency.
  • The Travel Warnings webpage provides detailed information about particular countries and their current safety situations.
  • Visit the U.S. Embassy main website to find embassy and consulate locations worldwide.
  • The Smart Traveler application available on iTunes provides country-specific information, travel alerts, travel warnings, and access to the U.S. Department of State Facebook and Twitter accounts.  You can access your STEP profile from the app and create new travel itineraries from your iPhone, iPod, or iPad. 

Back to Top