Syracuse University

Counseling Services While Abroad

VeniceWhile it is common for college students to experience stress while on campus, it is important to know that studying abroad may compound this stress due to the natural challenges of living and studying in a foreign country/culture. This page offers students advice on how to prepare for their study abroad experience as well as how to access counseling services while abroad.

Preparing to Study Abroad

Students who participate in regular counseling to help manage stress, anxiety, or other mental health conditions should plan ahead for their semester abroad:

  • Meet with your counselor before your departure and discuss strategies to help you navigate your condition while you are abroad. What tips does your counselor recommend should you experience stressors while abroad? Syracuse University Counseling Center contact information can be found here.
  • SU Abroad can also assist students in connecting with an English-speaking counselor prior to and after a student's departure. While abroad, students can contact a staff member at their center location.
  • Speak to your health insurance company about coverage for mental health services overseas. You will likely need to pay for services upfront and submit your receipt for reimbursement if your insurance company covers these services.
  • If you take medication, plan ahead to bring enough for your entire semester abroad. Your specific medication may not be available or not available in the same dosage abroad. You should not plan to receive medication via mail. It may take time to work with your doctor and your health insurance company, so start this process early.
While Abroad

Crisis Help
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call the local emergency number (equivalent to 911) provided to you at your on-site orientation. If you have experienced sexual assault, relationship violence, or are currently experiencing a mental health crisis, 24-hour emergency support services are available to all students. Please call the local 24-hour emergency number, which will be provided to you at your on-site orientation upon your arrival. SU Abroad center staff are ready to provide immediate assistance during times of crisis. You can always call the SU Abroad home office for immediate assistance as well: 011-315-443-3471.

Local Resources
While SU Abroad center locations do not have counseling centers on-site, staff at the centers can refer students to English-speaking counselors in the local community. It is common for students studying abroad to experience stress, home sickness, and other forms of culture shock. SU Abroad center staff will be happy to speak confidentially with you and provide you with a counseling referral.

An emergency can occur anytime. In some instances of severe emotional disturbance, an immediate response is necessary for the well-being of the student or others. In an emergency, call the respective SU Abroad emergency phone number or the SU Abroad home office, 001-315-443-3471.

Helping a Friend or Student

Students or faculty may worry that their friend/student is experiencing difficulty coping with stress and/or other mental health conditions while abroad. We encourage students and faculty to speak to an SU Abroad staff member and/or refer the student to seek assistance. 

When to Refer

Consider referring a student to the SU Abroad staff if you notice:

  • You're doing more personal counseling than academic advising with a student.
  • A student seems to be perpetually tired, anxious, depressed, irritable, angry, or sad.
  • Marked changes in a student's appearance or habits such as: deterioration in grooming or hygiene, dramatic weight loss, marked withdrawal in a normally outgoing person, accelerated activity or speech in a normally reserved person, or marked change in academic performance.
  • Indications of hopelessness or helplessness.
  • A student's use of alcohol or other substances interferes with his/her relationships or work.
  • A student's thoughts or actions appear unusual to others.
How to Refer

If you notice any of these warning signs, the best way to make a referral is to inform the student of your concern in a straightforward, matter-of-fact manner. Be specific regarding the behavior patterns you have observed. At this point, suggest that he/she consider personal counseling and refer the student to the designated SU Abroad staff member for assistance. If the student agrees to the referral, you may:

  • Call the designated SU Abroad staff member directly or have the student call in front of you to arrange an appointment.
  • Agree that the student will contact the office on his/her own to make an appointment.
  • In urgent or crisis situations, walk the student over for immediate contact with staff.

Except in emergencies, the option should be left open for the student to accept or refuse a referral for counseling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I say to encourage a student to go to counseling?

"I'm concerned about you because..."

  • You are missing class
  • You seem to be experiencing a great deal of stress
  • You seem to be drinking a lot (or engaging in other risky/dangerous behavior)
  • From what you tell me you are really sad, etc.
What if the student resists?

Below are some responses to common student statements:

"I'm not crazy." Reassure the student that most of the students who receive counseling are looking for help with common everyday problems and concerns, and are not "crazy."

"I can take care of it on my own." Point out that therapists don't do things for you or tell you what to do, they help you discover what's not working and how you might make things better for yourself.

"But I don't want anybody to know." Explain to the student that the counseling referrals are kept as confidential as possible.

What are some common psychological issues for college students? 

The Syracuse University Counseling Center provides information on these topics on their website.