door to the world


Most programs require students submit a medical report, and some require a medical exam. Medical requirements pre-departure and facilities on-site vary greatly country to country and students should work closely with their program and doctor to be prepared. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Travel consultation: Bowdoin’s Health Center is a travel clinic, so if you need a travel consultation and vaccinations make an appointment right away as they have limited space.

  • Prescriptions: Bring sufficient prescription medication for your entire time away; Health Services can help you get a waiver from the insurance company to obtain more than the usual one-month supply. Carry prescription medication in its original container, and have a copy of the written prescription that gives the drug's generic, not U.S. brand, name. Some countries restrict the importation or supply of certain medications commonly prescribed in the U.S.; check with the consulate or embassy. Never mail medicine.

  • Preparedness for sex: The Health Center can also provide advice on birth control pills, emergency contraceptives, and the use of condoms in preventing STDs.

  • Being “out” abroad: This is a deeply personal decision and depends a lot on where you’re going. Check out this great resource for LGBTQI students for some insights, considerations, and further resources. 

  • Mental Health: Going abroad and venturing out of one's comfort zone can often be emotionally challenging. Anticipate potential sources of stress. If you are currently seeing a therapist, arrange to continue with an in-country therapist if that would be beneficial to you. Do not discontinue any prescription medication that you may be taking for depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. Students may find the following article about study abroad and mental health helpful to ready before, during or following their study away experience: The Time of Your Life? Struggling with Mental Illness While Abroad.

  • Food abroad: If you have dietary restrictions or food allergies, learn how to communicate them in the local language and in a culturally sensitive way. Take note of food and water precautions recommended by the CDC.

  • Pack a first aid kit: Regardless of where you are going, pack a first aid kit. Kits may include: over the counter medications for head/muscle/stomach-aches; bandages; saline solution; tampons; condoms; water purification tablets; etc. Even if you’re going to a country “similar to the US” you might be happy to have these familiar items in case you get sick or injured.