Health and Safety Abroad

Raydan Alhubaishi, China

As you make preparations to study abroad, it is very important to take into consideration your health and safety. Use these resources to assist in your planning and offer guidance while you are participating in your program.

Health Insurance

Make sure you are covered by a health insurance plan while you are abroad. Many program providers provide health insurance policies for their programs, but you should check with your provider to see what is available. As a UC student, you may also be eligible to register for emergency health insurance coverage through the University of California Traveler Insurance Coverage. If you are eligible, the UC Traveler Insurance Coverage is free of charge.

Requirements regarding which insurance plan you must have, and the length and type of coverage that is included, varies depending on your study abroad program. Students should be particularly mindful of when their insurance coverage starts and ends, and should always carry an insurance card or contact information for their insurance carrier in case a medical situation arises.

For health insurance information specific to your program, please use the links below:

For information regarding the University of California Health Insurance Plan (UC SHIP), see the UC Santa Cruz Student Health Center.

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Culture Shock

The first encounter with new cultures can result in some of the most positive experiences students have while abroad. This transition, however, can feel somewhat shocking at times and can leave you feeling homesick, irritable, or anxious. Although not every student experiences culture shock at the same time, or in the same way, it is important to remember that it is very normal and temporary. As you are working through your experience of culture shock, remember to:

  • Be patient and give yourself time to adapt
  • Stay active and reach out to your fellow study abroad participants and your new friends in your host country
  • Try to focus on the positive elements of your experience!

Visit for additional information and resources for coping with culture shock.

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Reverse Culture Shock

After studying abroad, some students experience difficult transitioning back to life at home. Perhaps some of your priorities or values changed while you were abroad, or things changed at home while you were gone, or you had different expectations of what it would be like when you returned. Similar to culture shock, reverse culture shock is common, everyone experiences it differently and it is important to be self-aware and reach out for support as needed.

Visit the website for additional information and resources for coping with reverse culture shock.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

For additional security while abroad, UC Santa Cruz Study Abroad encourages students to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State.

The STEP program allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to register their international trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Benefits of enrolling in the program include:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions abroad
  • Allow the U.S. Embassy to contact you in case of an emergency (i.e. natural disaster, civil unrest, family emergency)
  • Provide a means for family members and friends to more easily contact you in case of an emergency

See the U.S. Department of State website for more information and to enroll in STEP.

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Medications Abroad

As you plan for your time abroad, keep in mind that some over-the-counter and prescription medications that are common in the U.S. may be considered illegal substances by other countries. Check with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to verify whether your medications will be allowed in the country where you will be studying. Your travel insurance provider may also be able to answer questions regarding the legality of certain medications abroad.

When traveling with prescription medication, make sure to:

  • Carry the medication in its original labeled container
  • Pack it in your carry-on bag
  • Bring a copy of your prescription letter from your physician in case you are questioned about your medication
  • Pack enough medication to last your entire trip

For further information regarding medications abroad, use the following links: 

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Online Resources for Health & Safety Abroad

Use the following links to assist you in planning for your Health & Safety Abroad:

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