Inevitably some students find they need medical care overseas. Here are some of the more common problems and how you should handle them.
If you regularly take a prescription medication, bring enough with you for the semester. Get your doctor to give you a generic breakdown (not just a generic name) of your prescription, so that you can refill your prescription overseas if necessary.
Your parents should not mail prescription medication to you. It can be confiscated by officials, followed by expensive fines to get them out of customs. Even if someone has said it has worked in the past, it doesn't mean that it was legal; it just means that they were lucky. If you must refill a prescription while abroad, check with your physician or consult the Center Staff on obtaining an equivalent generic prescription overseas.
A special note for Florence students with ADD/ADHD: Medications used to treat ADHD (Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta) are illegal in Italy. This means that they cannot be purchased in Italy. If you use one of these medications, you must bring enough with you for the whole semester or have a family member bring it to you during your stay.
If you wear glasses or contact lenses, take along an extra pair and bring a copy of your prescription. Contact lenses can be expensive to replace overseas. You might consider bringing a supply of wetting and cleaning solutions, just in case your favorite brand may not be available overseas. It may be possible to use another brand of solution instead; check with your ophthalmologist. If you use an electrical disinfecting unit for soft contacts, you may want to switch to chemicals, since even with a converter the unit may not function well on electrical current in other countries.
Never pack your lenses in checked luggage! If a suitcase goes astray, you don't want your lenses to be lost as well! Always pack lenses and any type of medication in carry-on
If you regularly receive allergy shots and must continue treatment while you are overseas, please contact our local staff upon arrival. The center staff will help you select a local doctor and will arrange to refrigerate your serum, if necessary. If possible, bring enough serum for your entire semester abroad. As with all prescribed medicines you should:
Most general practitioners within the British National Health System will not administer allergy shots. You may be able to receive allergy shots from a private practitioner, provided you bring your serum and the necessary medical documentation from your personal physician, such as your prescription and case notes.
Private care in Britain can be quite expensive. In the past, students on our London program have had to pay as much as 70 pounds per injection plus the cost of a private consultation, easily as much as 100 pounds. If you must take allergy shots while in London, please follow these guidelines:
If you have chronic or temporary medical conditions that require special consideration or a doctor’s attention, please contact us prior to leaving the United States. We ask you to document your medical condition for our records by completing the health information section of Form #3: Student Information and Emergency Contact Form.
It is a good idea to wear a medic alert bracelet (in English and French) if you have a medical condition or drug allergies that might affect your treatment in the case of an emergency.
During orientation, you will receive information about medical services in your host city. If you get sick or injure yourself, you should contact our local staff immediately; they will help you obtain the medical care you need. Our Centers have a list of English-speaking doctors who have provided services to our students in the past. In Florence, an English-speaking doctor visits the Center regularly for student consultations.
If you require medical treatment, you should be able to call your parents once you get appropriate medical attention. Our Center will call your parents for you if you can’t get to a phone.
Medical information and referrals are available to all SU Abroad students with their password athttp://www.internationalsos.com/Private/SyracuseUniversity/.
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) also provides information about English-speaking doctors abroad. You should visit their website and/or contact them at least two weeks prior to your departure to receive information.
It’s a good idea to have a dental check-up before you leave for abroad. In an emergency, our Centers abroad can provide a list of dentists that students have used in the past.
Contaminated food and drink are the major sources of intestinal illness while living or traveling abroad. Food and beverages should be selected with care. In general, hot beverages, such as coffee and tea, and canned or bottled beverages may be considered safe to drink. Any raw or undercooked food could be contaminated. Salads, uncooked vegetables and fruit, unpasteurized milk and milk products, raw meat and shellfish often pose the greatest concern. Food that has been cooked and is still hot is generally safe.
For more information on traveler’s health and safety, we recommend that you consult the Center for Disease Control web site.