Physical Wellbeing-Study Abroad - Carnegie Mellon University

Physical Wellbeing

As a precaution, students should have a routine medical and dental checkup before going abroad. It is also recommended that students pack a small first aid kit that includes their preferred and most often used over-the-counter medicines, bandages, antibiotic cream, antacids, etc. A full list of recommended items can be found in the Study Abroad Handbook.


Immunizations for Tetanus and Hepatitis A and B are recommended for all foreign travel.

No immunizations are currently required for travelers to Western Europe. Immunizations may be required for travel in Southeastern and Eastern Europe, Central and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Students without proper immunizations may not be allowed to enter a foreign country or may be quarantined at the U.S. border. Check the embassy website of the host country and all countries to be visited regarding required immunizations.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Travel Advisory website provide information on immunizations and health issues abroad.

Medical Services Abroad

The style of medical care abroad is largely dependent on the country. Some study abroad programs provide medical services for students. Other programs provide a contact list for emergencies. Non-routine medical costs (including hospitalization), dental care and eye exams are generally the full responsibility of the student.  Students must ensure that their medical insurance provides complete coverage for the entire time abroad! See the Health Insurance page for more information.

English speaking doctors are available in most parts of the world. The study abroad program will have information on this. A directory of English speaking doctors can also be obtained through the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) by writing to:
World Medical Association
536 North State Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Students with medical conditions that are not easily recognizable should wear a medical alert bracelet and inform their study abroad program of the condition and what to do in the event of an emergency.

Students should not assume that the care needed will be available or available free of charge. It is the student’s responsibility to make their needs known and to ensure that the services needed are available in the host country. Contact OIE, the study abroad program or Mobility International for information and assistance.

Students should also carry with them pertinent information from their medical record such as: medications, medical conditions, allergies, immunization history, blood type, glasses/contacts prescription, name of primary care physician at home, and health insurance information.

There are also special considerations for students with disabilities abroad.

Prescriptions Abroad

U.S. prescriptions cannot be filled abroad. Take enough medicine for the entire trip or make arrangements to have medicine mailed. Check the embassy website to make sure that the needed medication is legal in the host country and the countries to be visited. Some commonly prescribed medications in the U.S. are illegal in other countries.

Bring a physician’s letter listing the generic and name brand of each medication, the dosage, and the condition the medicine treats. This is also the procedure for injections such as insulin.

For students who wear contacts or glasses, bring an extra pair. Consider bringing contact solution as well. Glasses and contacts can be very expensive to purchase abroad.