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Student Health While Studying Abroad

Have an Emergency Plan in Place Before the Trip

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Doctor's bag
Courtesy Sanja Gjenero, Stock.Xchng Photos
Getting sick while abroad can be a frightening experience. At home, you know exactly who to call and what process to follow. Abroad, it’s a whole different deal. So if your child is heading for a study abroad program, it's wise to talk through an emergency plan now, before he’s battling a high temperature or serious injury far from home.

UC Berkeley student Karen Rogers had traveled extensively with her family and on her own, so she didn't expect problems when she left for a semester of study in Paris. Then she got sick. “It was unnerving to figure out how to deal with a medical issue while being abroad," she says now. "Learning how to maneuver in a new health care system, understanding French medical terminology, and dealing with an unfamiliar
 medical procedure were definitely anxiety-provoking.”

If your child is abroad under the auspices of his university's study abroad program or an educational travel company, most of these organizations have representatives on hand who can assist. But even students who planned their own trips can turn to staffers at the foreign university, student housing reps or their home-stay families for help. Make sure your child travels with his basic medical records and insurance information, and that he keeps copies of all receipts and records.

And if you don't have a passport, this would be a good time to get one. Your child - and you - might enjoy a visit while he's overseas. But even more important, should a serious medical emergency arise, you'll want to be able to get on a plane and go, without a frantic bureaucratic detour.

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