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It is important for program participants to begin planning for their international experience early. Adequate preparation can give peace of mind and ease the adjustment to a new environment. In addition to the information provided below, all program participants will receive an online pre-departure handbook outlining best practices for maintaining good health and safety. Additionally, all participants on credit-bearing programs will be invited to attend an on-campus, pre-departure orientation in which our professional staff will review topics related to health and safety.

Personal Health

Self-Disclosure Form. All applicants are asked to complete a Self Disclosure Form as part of the application process. The purpose of the Self-Disclosure Form is for the participant to note any health-related needs that the UK Education Abroad staff should be aware of so that appropriate support may be provided. The type and extent to which accommodations can be provided on-site and the availability of certain medications will vary by country and program. Therefore, it is important for all participants to work with the Education Abroad staff well before departure to ensure that any needs or accommodations can be met while abroad. (All EA application materials are kept confidential in accordance with FERPA.)

Immunizations. Students can choose from multiple campus resources when preparing to go abroad, including travel abroad health services from both University Health Service [PDF] and the University of Kentucky Health Care Travel Clinic. Make sure to bring your vaccination history with you to your visit! University Health Service (at the Kentucky Clinic on S. Limestone) offers country-specific counseling, physicals, vaccinations (including yellow fever), prescriptions and some insurance information to students. UHS recommends scheduling appointments at least 4-6 weeks prior to traveling. In order to avoid paying an office visit fee, students MUST visit UHS during the spring or fall term, while their student health fee is active. The Travel Clinic (at the Kentucky Clinic South) offers services to meet the medical needs of anyone preparing to travel abroad. All visits are charged a $65 consultation fee, which is discounted for groups. The full-service travel clinic provides immunizations and country-specific medical advice, as well as post-travel screening and evaluation. Generally, visitors to either clinic will need to pay for vaccines up front and file claims for reimbursement to their insurance company. It is essential to work with your insurance company before your visit to be sure of what will and will not be covered.

All program participants are encouraged to visit the CDC's website before departure to educate themselves on healthcare issues they may encounter during their time abroad.

Medical Preparation. To make the most of their time abroad, participants need to manage existing and unanticipated health conditions in faraway places where finding a doctor and explaining their symptoms should not be left to chance. HTH Worldwide provides information and assistance via its Global Health and Safety databases, which give profiles of over 4,200 carefully selected, contracted English-speaking physicians in over 180 countries outside the U.S., translations of thousands of medical terms and hundreds of brand name drugs, listings of notable hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in more than 600 destinations outside the U.S. Participants are encouraged to read HTH's Medical Preparation Checklist, as it contains medical and health information designed to minimize risks to participants' health abroad.

Personal Safety

Current Event & Local Conditions. Participants should familiarize themselves with current events in their destination region through local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. Participants are strongly encouraged to visit the City and Security profiles provided by HTH Worldwide to about safety issues in the area. The U.S. Department of State web site also maintains a useful website with safety-related and other information. Participants can also receive daily health and security email alerts customized by destination via HTH Worldwide.

Travel Documentation. Participants should leave copies of their itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends so that they can be contacted in case of an emergency. Participants should ensure that at least one family member has a passport to ensure that at least one family member can travel abroad in the event of an emergency.

Adhering to Local Law. Laws vary from country to country and anyone who visits a country will be held accountable to local law. Participants should take time to educate themselves of the laws of the countries in which they are visiting as legal protection in most other areas of the world is not the same as that of the U.S., and ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Participants are also subject to the rules and policies of any hosting institution. Even while abroad, UK students are expected to respect the UK Code of Student Conduct. Violation of local law, institutional rules and polices, or the Code of Student Conduct may result in expulsion from the program and thus the loss of academic credit, financial aid and scholarships, and program fees.

Cultural Awareness

Cultural Adjustment. Part of an education abroad experience is being immersed in a culture different from your own. This experience is often very rewarding, and can promote greater independence, resourcefulness, and appreciation for things outside what's encountered in everyday life at home. It can also be stressful to encounter so many new or different experiences at once. It's important to understand that acclimating to a new environment will take time and that initial feelings wear off into a more balanced mind-set.

It will take some participants more time than others to get used to a new culture. Knowing this, participants should be patient and allow themselves to adapt naturally. Putting unrealistic expectations on oneself can lead to greater discomfort and increased stress. Participants should strive to get enough rest and exercise to lessen stress and stay healthy. Keeping in touch with friends and family and continuing activities that are enjoyed are all ways to help your body and mind cope with the stress and discomfort of culture shock.

Local Attitudes on Diversity. Participants should also attempt to understand regional and local attitudes on issues such as dress, alcohol consumption, religion, gender roles, sexual orientation and so on well before the start of their program. Please take a moment to review our brochure series on diversity issues and education abroad.

For additional resources on preparation, please consult:
UK Counseling Center
UK Disability Resource Center
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Department of State: Students Abroad
Education Abroad Resource Center (315 Bradley Hall)
Host Program Resources (e.g., UK Partner, UK Consortia)
Education Abroad Peer Ambassadors (available for walk-in appointments, 9-4 M-F)