Study abroad can be one of the most exciting parts of a student’s experience. Along with understanding the numerous benefits of studying abroad, it is crucial that students know their role and the importance of staying safe and healthy when living and studying far from home. In a world of uncertainty, it is important to be prepared for the different situations that could arise when studying.
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has posed significant issues and devastation all around the world, as well as logistical and health-related unknowns for those studying abroad. Below EDUopinions will cover study abroad health and safety tips from ETIAS for those students currently studying abroad as well as tips for students who plan to do so in the future — including trip preparation, tips for physical safety, items to pack, as well as what steps to take if you are abroad during a crisis.
Studying Abroad During a Crisis
If the country you are studying in experiences a crisis (medical, civil, or otherwise), it is important to remember not to panic. Panic does nothing except spread misinformation and cause additional issues. Instead, keep your eyes and ears open for official updates from the country you are in and your home country’s embassy. In the event that you are stuck in a country enduring a crisis here are some questions to ask:
Obey local law and keep your family updated. To combat feelings of loneliness, speak to family and friends through video chatting and similar digital communication tools. As it is safe to do so, grab some supplies and food that you may need (varies on a case-by-case basis). Please note that hoarding supplies does nothing but damage local efforts and cause panic amongst those who cannot gain access to those supplies.
To stay healthy, cook with fresh ingredients and freeze meals for later consumption. Check out online workouts to stay active, studies also show that exercise boosts your immune system. Aside from nourishing your body and mind, give the space you are staying in some love — clean and organize your space often so your living conditions stay in tip-top shape.
All of these things should be thought of prior to an actual emergency or crisis. That is not to say that you should be doomsday prepping while studying abroad but you should be prepared for these situations to arise.
Crisis Preparation Tips
- University contact;
- Programme contact;
- Relevant embassy;
- Local authorities;
- Travel insurance provider.
In addition, it is a good idea to find reliable local news sources and locals or local forums you can trust. Before leaving you should also make copies of your essential documents and store them separately from the originals — copies should also be stored with a trusted family member or friend back home as well as in a secure digital folder. In the case that you would not be able to make it to an ATM, it is also a good idea to store some local currency in separate locations as well. Separating your documents and currency will help prevent you from losing it all in the event of loss or theft.
Important items to pack in addition to your toiletries and clothing:
- Extra prescription medications;
- Basic medical supplies;
- Battery packs and power adaptors;
- Compact flashlight;
- Compact umbrella and rain poncho;
- Secure storage for cards and currency*
* RFID-blocking wallets and money belts are not vital but may add an extra layer of security.
Below you’ll find some supplementary resources to help you prepare.