One of the most important things to know is where to go if you get sick or hurt. There are many things you can do to prevent both. But you should be informed on where to get healthcare.
Before you leave for the U.S.
- Make sure you have received all of your medical records from your doctor at home. Your new doctor needs to know your history.
- If you can, bring a copy of these records in English.
- If you take any prescription medications, pack enough to last for a month or two.
- Unless there is an emergency, there’s often a wait to see a doctor in the U.S. It might be a while before you can get your prescriptions renewed.
- Many universities have a health clinic on campus. This might be the fastest route to getting prescriptions renewed in the U.S.
Many U.S. universities require international students to have health insurance.
- Health insurance helps you pay for visits to the hospital or doctor. They also help you pay for prescription medications. Health insurance usually pays for a portion of your health care costs, not all of your costs.
- You will pay a bill to the company providing the insurance each month.
- After you get medical care, you will owe a certain amount. This amount is called a co-pay. The rest of the bill is paid for by your health insurance provider.
In most cases, your university will offer its own health insurance plan. The plans usually cover medical needs for:
- Regular visits to the doctor or hospital
- Mental Health Care
- Maternity Care
- Substance Abuse Treatment
You can buy your college or university’s own health insurance plan. If you do not, they will ask you to find another health insurance provider. This provider must offer the same or similar benefits.
If you have a spouse or children, you can include them on your health insurance plan. You will list them as dependents.
With dependents, your plan will cost more. But your family can get coverage for their medical care in the U.S. If you have dependents, bring their medical records to the U.S. with you.
Where to Receive Healthcare
Most U.S. colleges and universities have their own health centers. These centers can handle routine visits to the doctor and sometimes urgent needs. They might also have a pharmacy where you can fill prescriptions.
Hopefully, you won’t have a medical emergency that the campus health center can’t handle. But if you do, be prepared.
Know where the nearest hospitals are:
If you are ever too sick or injured to get to the hospital or health center on your own, call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
If your campus health center does not have its own pharmacy, other places do. Many supermarkets and shops have pharmacies. Some of these stores include:
Taking Care of Your Health
It’s good to be prepared for any possible medical need. The best preparation is to take good care of yourself.
Going to a college or university for the first time is always stressful. It’s even more stressful in a new country. Even with stress, there are things you can do prevent illness.
- Sleep and exercise
It’s common to feel overwhelmed by schoolwork. You might think you have too much work to make time for yourself. But it’s important that you get enough sleep and rest. Getting enough sleep (about seven hours each night) will help to keep you from getting sick. It will help you feel rested enough to focus on your work.
Physical exercise can help to keep you from getting sick. It also relieves stress. Find 30 minutes each day to do something active. You can even just take a walk. It can have a great impact on your health and mood.
- Eating well
Adjusting to the cuisine of a new country can be difficult. Eat the right foods that will keep you from getting sick, like fruits and vegetables.
Nutrition in the U.S. might be different from what you are used to. Familiarize yourself it. Websites like http://www.choosemyplate.gov can help.
- Be prepared for the weather
Before you leave for the U.S., research the average weather of your new home.
In hotter climates:
- Always be sure to drink plenty of water.
- Even if it is very hot outside, indoor cooling systems (air conditioning) can feel very cold.
- Bring a light sweatshirt or jacket with you if you will be spending a lot of time in air-conditioned buildings. Most classrooms are air-conditioned.
Even more important, be prepared for colder climates. Many international students do not realize how cold the winter season can be in certain parts of the U.S.
To prepare for harsh, cold weather, pack and wear layers of clothing:
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Pants (slacks, jeans and flannel)
- A heavy, water-resistant jacket
- Winter hat
- Boots for the snow