Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness

When traveling abroad, you always have to be ready for extreme or unfamiliar conditions. You might have an upset stomach or other digestive problems in the first few days as your body gets adapted to the climate and the food. It is even common to catch a cold. You may also have trouble adapting to the altitude if you are going to a mountainous area. Even the most seasoned travelers and the fittest athletes have to deal with these problems when they leave their country. These discomforts can, however, be controlled.
Adjusting to Your New Home

Here are a few tips to help you adjust.
  • Take it easy for the first few days or a week. Your body will need to rest if it is to adapt to local conditions.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid rubbing your eyes in order not to come in contact and be infected with various viruses.
  • Medication for headaches, colds, upset stomach, minor injuries, and other ailments is readily available in the United States. It is not always advisable to bring medication from home into the United States since some restrictions apply. The pharmacist at any drugstore can assist you in finding medication for your needs.
  • If you are going to a warm area, wear a hat on sunny days to avoid sunstroke, use sunscreen to protect your skin against sunburn, and drink a lot of liquids (nonalcoholic and without caffeine) to prevent dehydration.
  • Contact your international student adviser to find the location of the nearest medical clinic. Most universities maintain a health clinic on campus.
Campus Health Clinics

Most colleges and universities in the United States have a clinic, an infirmary, or some other form of health care service for students, though usually not for their families. The "health fee" the student pays each term goes toward providing such services. Therefore, the services provided are often free or offered at a greatly reduced cost. Usually, however, university health services are limited to minor and emergency care. In case of a serious health problem, the university normally refers the student to a medical facility in the community, and the student, or his or her insurance, pays the costs. Your college or university should send you materials that discuss health care services and fees involved. If you do not receive such material, be sure to write and ask your international student adviser for this information before you leave your home country.

Family Medical Care

If you are traveling with your spouse and/or family, you will need to find another source for medical care. Care for the family is available from doctors in private medical practice or through community medical clinics. It is a good idea to establish a relationship with a doctor shortly after you arrive in the United States so you will have ready access to medical care if you, your spouse, or your children should become ill.

Family doctors (also called "primary care physicians" or "general practitioners") provide medical care for the whole family, as well as deliver babies. Many doctors specialize in family-related areas. For example, obstetricians specialize in prenatal care and deliver babies. Often, an obstetrician is also a gynecologist, a specialist who treats women. Pediatricians care for infants and children. Family doctors often refer patients to specialists for treatment of particular conditions. Ask friends, the student health service, or the international student adviser for recommendations of doctors in your community. When you telephone for an appointment, ask how much the doctor charges for services. Make sure you know which medical services your health insurance covers and which it does not. For more information on types of health care plans and health insurance, read the section on "Health Insurance."