Allergies, Diet, and Prescriptions

The host country's diet may differ significantly from what you are used to.  Research the food available in your host country, and do not assume that the food you want or are used to eating will be readily available.  Learning how to say what your dietary restrictions are in the country's host language will help you to obtain the food you can eat and avoid the food you cannot.  

If you have allergies, reactions to certain medications, foods, or insect bites, or other unique medical problems, it is strongly suggested you disclose this information before going abroad.  You may also want to consider wearing a "medical alert" bracelet.  Talk with your medical practitioner to determine what the required medical treatment for your allergies should be.  You may also wish to carry a letter from your physician explaining any necessary treatment as well as a translation in the host country language.  If you take over-the-counter allergy medication, you will want to research the availability of your medications abroad.  It is a good idea to learn how to say what you are allergic to and describe your allergic reaction in the language of your host country.



If you are taking any prescription medications, ensure you have all the proper documentation for bringing your medication into your host country.  Not all medications approved in the U.S. are legal in other countries, and some countries have stricter regulations than others.  This is especially true of ADHD medications and other psychotropic medications.  Ask your medical practitioner if your medication is legal in your host country, and if it is not, talk to them about switching to another medication well in advance of your program start date.  

Important Points to Remember:

  1. Some prescription medications available in the U.S. are illegal in other countries, including common medications for the treatment of ADHD and anxiety/depression. If your medication(s) is not legal, you should work with your medical practitioner to prescribe an alternative, legal medication several months prior to departure.
  2. Bring your medication in its original containers, which should be clearly labeled.
  3. Bring a copy of your prescription (translated into the local language, if possible).  
  4. Bring enough medication for the duration of your time abroad. If your U.S. health insurance only allows a few months of prescription to be filled at a time and this isn't enough for your program abroad, it is often helpful to call the insurance company and ask for an exception. A copy of your acceptance or confirmation from OIED will often assist with your request. A note from your medical practitioner is also recommended explaining your medical condition, the medication, and why you are carrying such a large supply.
  5. Be sure to bring all of these things in your carry-on luggage to present at customs.  DO NOT PACK YOUR MEDICATION IN YOUR CHECKED BAGGAGE.  It is important to have all of these documents on hand so your medication is not held up at customs.  
  6. It can be very difficult and costly to get a new prescription in your host country.  It may also be illegal to have any medication shipped to you.
  7. Have a backup plan in case your medications are lost or stolen.  Please keep in mind that not all medications will be readily available in the host country.