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Health & Safety

Health Issues Abroad

Before leaving most programs will require that you complete a 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.

Health Insurance

Purchase students participating in any Purchase College sponsored study abroad program (summer, winter or exchange program) will be enrolled in the SUNY international comprehensive health insurance policy, GeoBlue Worldwide Health Insurance. This is available for SUNY programs specifically, therefore students going on other SUNY and SUNY-approved programs can opt for this insurance as well.

GeoBlue Worldwide Health Insurance provides the SUNY coverage for medical treatment due to accident or illness. Once you have been enrolled in the SUNY insurance, you will receive instructions from GeoBlue for registering for and activating your personalized website and printing your health insurance ID card. This card is your proof of coverage. Do this as soon as you receive instructions, as there is much valuable information available on the website. The cost (starting in the 2016-17 academic year) is $181.25 for a semester of full coverage through Purchase or another SUNY campus.

Please note that the international health insurance policy becomes effective once you are abroad, it does not cover any medical expenses in the U.S. To avoid any gaps in coverage, make sure you are covered by your current domestic health insurance until your date of departure from the U.S.

GeoBlue Worldwide Insurance Services Interactive Resources:

  1. Students enrolled in the insurance plan may register for access to HTH’s Interactive Resources by going to https://members.geobluestudents.com/Registration/Member.
  2. GeoBlue’s Interactive Resources include:
          • Online claims status
          • Coverage limits and personal information
          • Doctor search in the U.S. and abroad
          • Travel health and safety news and articles
          • Medical term, phrase and drug translation databases
          • Access to CityHealth Profiles for important health information in cities worldwide
          • Personalized news and e-mail, which can be delivered to the student and up to five of his or her family members and friends.

Immunizations and Regional Health Conditions

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 US Center for Disease Control (CDC) website for travelers.

Medications and Treatments pills.jpg

If you are taking medications, have your doctor provide you with an explanation and the generic name for your prescription, especially if you know you will need to fill it abroad. You cannot legally mail medication internationally. 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.


Safety Abroad


Stay Smart

Some people assume a kind of carefree "vacation" mentality when they go abroad. It is important to not let your guard down just because you are doing something new and different. Use common sense, and air on the side of safety. Literally look both ways before you cross the street and become a participant-observer in your host country.

Know and Abide by Local Law

Laws vary from country to country and ignorance is not an excuse. Know the laws of your host country and abide by them. Legal protection can easily be taken for granted in the United States. In most countries, the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" does not exist and bail may not be a possibility

Alcohol Consumption winebeer.jpg

If you drink, drink wisely and responsibly. The customs regarding drinking wine and beer may be different in your host country than in the United States. The minimum drinking age may be lower, and it may be customary to drink wine or beer with meals. Try to be culturally sensitive to the drinking norms and aware of your own behavior in your host country.

Drug Use

Aside from the legal consequences, drug use can contribute to feelings of isolation and frustration. Further, anti-narcotics laws are strictly enforced in many foreign countries, regardless of whether a student is caught with a small or large amount of a drug. To be safe, stay away from illegal drugs or anyone who uses or sells them.

AIDS and Other Sexually Transmitted Diseases

In some countries, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is a widespread health problem. Take the same steps to avoid this disease as you would at home. Use a condom if you are sexually active. (It may be a good idea to bring condoms with you, because the quality of condoms in some countries is unreliable.) Other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis and herpes, are also present worldwide. Use the necessary precautions to avoid these diseases.

Safety Issues in Your Host Country

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.

Additional Resources: Health & Safety

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