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Before leaving you must complete the Physician's Statement and Health Information Forms. You should also make copies of this information to take abroad with you, especially if you are taking any medication, have any conditions, or are being treated for anything.
You have to make sure that you have health insurance that will cover you abroad. Most health insurance policies do not cover you outside the U.S., or greatly reduce what they will cover. SUNY has an international comprehensive health insurance policy that you must purchase if your policy does not cover you abroad or if it reduces your coverage. Finding yourself abroad without adequate health insurance can be a nightmare worse than if it were to happen in your home country! Take this advice seriously, and do your homework!
In addition to health insurance, SUNY requires all study abroad students to have medical evacuation and repatriation insurance. The cost is nominal, and covers expenses in case you need to be transported back to the U.S. for medical care or become deceased.
Most countries do not require that you present proof of immunizations. However, depending on where you are going, you may want to consider taking certain immunizations before you leave. To learn about recommended, or even required, immunizations, please visit the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for travelers. Here you can read about an array of health issues related to all regions of the world. Print this information out, and take it with you when you meet with your doctor to complete your Physician's Statement form.
If you are taking medications, make sure that you know what you are taking! Have your doctor provide you with an explanation of your prescription, especially if you know you will need to fill it abroad. You cannot mail medication internationally. Customs officers will confiscate it! Follow the same procedures for any other type of treatments you may be undergoing. If you know you will need to see a doctor abroad for a specific reason, bring as much documentation about your condition as possible. Depending on the seriousness of you condition, you may want to bring it to the attention of the Global Education Office well before you leave so that we can help you locate a doctor abroad in advance.
These two issues come up regularly on college campuses worldwide. Going to any new environment, especially a foreign country can be scary. And in fact, the U.S. Department of State has issued a continuous and updated Worldwide Caution Public Announcement since September 11, 2001.
The Global Education Office requires that all students register with the local U.S. consulate in their host country. Doing so will make local U.S. officials aware of your presence, and help them assist you better in the event of an emergency. You will also receive information via e-mail from the State Department about any travel concerns. You can register at all consulates online through the State Department's website.
Many study abroad incidents result from alcohol abuse, and we see this trend increasing. The best way you can ensure your own safety is to conduct yourself as a diplomat. Think, talk, act, and dress conservatively. Do not trust new "friends" too quickly. Give yourself time to settle in and meet good people. And certainly, stay away from drugs and disorderly conduct. You do not want to find yourself charged with a crime in another country!
Unfortunately, there are no parts of the world that are untouched by crime. While terrorism is a daily subject in most newspapers and news programs, you really need to worry about common street crime more than anything else. You will have to use your "street smart" skills abroad as much as you do in the United States. Also just as in the U.S., how safe you are abroad will largely depend on the personal decisions you make. To make sure you are thinking about your own safety, all host institutions conduct an arrival orientation where they cover general health and safety specific to their regions. The Global Education Office also conducts a general study abroad orientation each semester where we cover basic safety information, and other topics. If you are not a SUNY Plattsburgh student, contact your home campus' study abroad office to see when they conduct their orientation.
As study abroad students and/or parents, you should take the time to read specific country information available from the United States' Department of State and other countries' governments. This information and reports from host institution officials are what the Global Education Office uses to determine health and safety concerns throughout the world.
If you would like more information about study abroad and exchange opportunities at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact us at:
Global Education Office
101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Phone: (518) 564-3287
Toll-Free Phone: (800) 388-6784
Fax: (518) 564-3292
Location: We are on the second floor of the Kehoe Administration Building on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.