Most students sail through studying abroad in perfect health. Some will have normal, relatively minor setbacks: colds, flu, diarrhea, headaches. Once in a blue moon, someone requires hospitalization. Although students studying abroad are probably no more likely to get sick than their peers in Iowa City, they may need to be more active in managing their health than ever before. Moreover, being sick halfway around the world is different than being sick at home. (Being hospitalized abroad is often a great intercultural experience, but we don’t recommend it!)
Study Abroad staff provide students with extensive information about health and health insurance The Center for Disease Control is a great source of information about travelers’ health for specific countries. Health information, immunizations, and consultations are available for international travel at UI Student Health Service, (4189 Westlawn). It’s also a good idea for students to check with their family doc & dentist to make sure they’re good to go.
“My condition was critical in the beginning and I was faced with my first-ever hospital experience, and the first in a foreign country miles away from my family, which was frightening to say the least. Thankfully I was surrounded by close friends whom I met in Pau, and my French family who took exceptional care of me and even provided regular updates to my family in the States. Even members of their extended family took the time to call me in the hospital and send their well wishes.”– Raechel Torner, France
Safety is always a central concern. Study Abroad works with UI faculty and staff to assess the risks to students in any location, and only offers programs where the risks are deemed reasonable. (There are, regrettably, no risk-free environments anywhere in the world, including Iowa City....) Students need to decide for themselves whether or not they’re willing to accept the relative risks of stepping on a plane and studying abroad in a particular place.
The U.S. Department of State "issues Consular Information Sheets for every country of the world with information on such matters as the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, any areas of instability, and the location of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the subject country.” Travel Warnings are also issued for some countries. And we have all been operating under a “Worldwide Caution” since 9/11.... For added perspective, it’s sometimes useful to read similar material produced by the UK, Canada or other countries.
We provide our students with the best advice about security we can, and encourage them to “practice safe study abroad”.
“My mother moaned when I told her I was going to Africa. "You couldn't just go to London?" she asked. Her anxiety was understandable. My travel plans set off a maternal alarm in the woman who had spent years of her life guarding me from danger. In her mind, I was a toddler again crawling toward a hot stove; I was a child again lost somewhere in the maze-like aisles of a department store. Seeing the worry in her face, I knew that what frightened her most was simply the unknown.” –Susan Fisher, University of Nairobi
“I think it's probably more dangerous to go to New York City. Get them a cell phone and a debit card and they'll be fine.” – Ted Williams, father of a UI senior