Mandatory Health Insurance
When students engage in study abroad programs through Belmont, they are guaranteed to be optimally covered in case of medical issues, accidents, or emergencies. Health insurance is an important component of study abroad. All students on long-term programs are required to have international healthcare coverage for the duration of their study abroad program. Students are either enrolled through their program provider (e.g., Arcadia University or SAI) or through HTH Worldwide Insurance. There is no opt-out option. For further coverage, please check with your home insurance provider, as some plans either have a built-in global component or have a global component that can be purchased for a nominal fee.
Before studying abroad, it is important that your son or daughter schedule an appointment with either Belmont Health Services or a trusted physician at home, if only for standard checks in preparation for departure. The study abroad experience, while amazingly enriching, can also be stressful, both physically and mentally. A healthy mind and body are essential to a successful study abroad experience. That said, if your son or daughter is somewhat uneasy or nervous about their upcoming experience, please remember that this is completely normal.
Students who are registered with Disability Services are encouraged to contact OSA and Mrs. Melissa Smith, Director of Student Support and Disability Services, (Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org) in order to receive similar accommodations for the courses on their abroad programs.
For many students engaging in extended stay abroad, the Center for Disease Control recommends or requires certain vaccines in order to do so. Please consult the CDC’s website for any questions that your son or daughter may have. If your son or daughter is enrolling in a long-term study abroad program, please remind them to think about the countries that they may want to visit on free individual travel and research any vaccination requirements recommended to travel there. This won’t necessarily be a problem for a student studying abroad in Paris who wants to go to London, Milan, or Berlin, but it may be very different for a student studying in Valencia who decides to spend a week in Morocco. Please make sure that your son or daughter is adequately protected against major diseases.
BU Pre-Travel Medical Consultation
Belmont's Health Services offers a comprehensive travel consult for students, faculty, and staff who are going overseas for exchanges, study abroad, and missions. This pre-travel service is by appointment only and provides a cost-effective alternative for the campus community. The consult includes not only discussion and administration of recommended vaccines and malaria prophylaxis, but detailed information about possible health and safety hazards specific to the destination and length of visit. Post-travel illness and concerns can also be addressed. In addition to these individual consultations, Health Services can provide a speaker to orient groups contemplating a trip. Some of the vaccines offered are: hepatitis A&B, typhoid, tetanus, polio booster, episodic TB screening, MMR, and meningitis. Japanese encephalitis and rabies can be ordered on request, and the health services office can direct you to the nearest clinic that offers yellow fever vaccinations.
The availability of prescription as well as non-prescription drugs varies widely. We recommend that your son or daughter takes an adequate supply of whatever medications they may need, since it can be difficult to obtain equivalents abroad. Any medications they take should be in the original, properly labeled containers. If they wear glasses or contacts, they should likely take an extra pair in case the original is damaged or lost. In case of emergency, they should be sure to take copies of prescriptions for medications as well as for glasses or contact lenses.
An International Student Identity Card (or ISIC card, for short) is extremely useful due to the fact that enrolling for the card will link students to an extensive network of fellow students with the card and give your son or daughter valuable student discounts at museums, attractions, restaurants, or hostels. Many of these locations offer student discounts that are only redeemable with an ISIC card. While this is not a necessity, it may be a great way for your son or daughter to save money while abroad. For instructions on how to apply for an ISIC card, head to the OSA travel resources page.
Vaccines are crucial and students should obtain them well before they leave for their study abroad program; detailed information about vaccines is in the pre-departure section of this handbook. Though vaccines can protect students from a wide variety of diseases, they are not a catchall. While your son or daughter is abroad, they should be aware of the risks present when outside. In tropical climates, diseases such as malaria and dengue fever are endemic and transported through mosquito and other bug bites. We strongly advise that your son or daughter brings or buys bug spray and use it regularly. They may also be in areas where bug, snake, scorpion, or spider bites can be highly venomous. Please make sure your son or daughter prepares for the worst in these circumstances and never puts themselves in a situation where they are without both the necessary medication to combat these diseases and a trained professional to treat the bite and its wound.
Please also keep in mind that HTH insurance or an equivalent provider or host country-arranged insurance program will provide full coverage for your son or daughter in case of any emergency. In special circumstances, HTH can even cover expenses to bring students home before completion of their program for family members to go abroad to care for a child in especially serious medical condition. While we are acutely aware that these are not the most pleasant thoughts, please know that, in the event of a major emergency, Belmont will work closely with your son or daughter’s program director or study abroad provider to ensure that they are given the utmost care while abroad and, if necessary, that arrangements are made to return them to the United States.
Preparing your Student
Apart from the immediate issue of jet lag, there several matters that every student needs to be aware of while studying abroad. Having lived in one country for the vast majority of their life, students’ bodies have become accustomed to a certain set of foods or certain methods of preparation. Leaving their normal cuisine behind for something new and unfamiliar may be jarring for students; while there is no real way for you to help your son or daughter while they are abroad, there are ways that you can help them prepare for the possibility of food and other illnesses while abroad.
- Pack Plenty of Medicine – Depending on where your son or daughter is studying, American (or Western) medicine could be harder to come by and may be in forms unfamiliar to them (different branding or packaging, powders instead of pills, etc.). We recommend bringing at least a supply of anti-diarrheal medicine, basic cold medication, and either ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which are essential. Basic first aid supplies could also be useful.
- Know Your Son or Daughter’s Needs – While we stress that students know and prepare for their own needs, they also are very busy and can be absentminded, so being mindful of your son or daughter’s personal medical needs will be very important. Is your child asthmatic? Make sure they bring their inhaler. Do they suffer from dry skin or eczema? Tell them to pack an adequate supply of moisturizer. Things of this nature are sometimes overlooked, with the assumption that that students will be able to get what they need while abroad, and sometimes this simply is not the case.
- When in Doubt, Ship it Out – Inevitably, many students end up forgetting something that they either want or absolutely need. In most cases, international shipping is fairly simple and reasonably priced. That said, it’s very important that you look into shipping restrictions before you head to the post office.
- Vegetarian Issues - Please be aware that if your son or daughter is a vegetarian, he or she may encounter serious challenges depending on where they travel. In many cultures, vegetarianism is not commonly practiced and restaurant owners, waiters, or cafeteria staff may be very confused to hear that a student cannot or will not eat meat or meat products. For short-term students, program directors will likely be well versed in accommodating vegetarians, but please tell your son or daughter to make a note of this in advance of their departure. Most long-term students will learn how to adapt themselves to their study abroad situation, but it would not be a bad idea to send them off with some vegetarian-friendly canned goods, which are perfectly legal to carry in a checked bag if they are unopened.
- Students With Allergies – Students with food allergies are also at risk when traveling abroad, as many chefs or restaurants abroad are not inclined to cater to your son or daughter’s allergy needs. Any student with food allergies should bring multiple epi pens and be especially aware of what they eat at all times. Additionally, in order to communicate with waiters or waitresses that may not speak English, these students should either learn select phrases in the host language describing their dietary needs or keep a card with the same phrase written down.