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Photo credit: Sierra Raskie Jeska '23 (DIS Copenhagen, Fall 2022)


Pre-Trip Health Requirements

What are the health-related requirements for study abroad?

All admitted study abroad participants are required to complete a "Travel Health Questionnaire." To access this questionnaire, you must log in through your​​​​ student health portal via MySwat.  Click on "Forms," then "Travel Health Questionnaire."  Once your responses are received, a nurse will review your health history and itinerary, and provide you with up-to-date information about the health conditions at your destination and pre-travel advice on immunization and medication requirements and recommendations. The nurse will also review destination-specific travel tips and cultural considerations.

Please note that outstanding college vaccine requirements must be complete or in the process of completion prior to travel abroad.

What type of information will ​​​​​be needed to complete the Questionnaire?

In order to advise you regarding health planning, Worth will need the following:

  1. Detailed itinerary with length of stay, specific destinations, and excursions
  2. Up-to-date copy of all life-time vaccinations/immunizations/shots
  3. Record of current medications with names, doses, and prescriber
How is this step different from a Travel Health Consultation? 

Once the Worth Health Center reviews your response to the Questionnaire, they can notify you if an in-person travel consultation will be required.  In-person consultations are not always required but can be necessary for students with specific study abroad locations or medical circumstances. Depending on your needs, the consultation may include travel vaccinations and/or program-required physical exam forms.

Ideally appointments for a travel health consult should be made at least six weeks in advance of travel. Schedule early since many times follow up visits and vaccine appointments are necessary. Most vaccines require several weeks to take effect, and some can’t be given at the same time. So, it’s best to plan your first visit early.

Does I need to complete my pre-travel appointment(s) at the Worth Health Center?

No. If you prefer, other local options include:

  • Penn Travel Medicine: 215-615-2240
  • Crozer Travel Medicine: 610-619-8500

You may also check whether you can complete the necessary procedures and forms with your primary care physician or a specialist they refer you to (if you plan to be in your home city well in advance of your departure). 

What if my program requires health forms?

By appointment, students can arrange for a physical (for visas or other purposes) or to have additional health forms completed that may be required by their study abroad programs. Appointments should be made as early as possible to avoid delays.


How do I get the recommended vaccines?

A travel health nurse at Worth will help to navigate the best location to obtain vaccines. Some vaccines can be given on-campus. You may be referred to an off-site clinic to receive other vaccines. Prescriptions (such as malaria prophylaxis or antibiotics) can be given to you or sent to a pharmacy.

Does insurance cover the cost of vaccines?

Most insurance companies will cover childhood vaccines and routine boosters. Travel-specific vaccines are not typically covered. You can call your insurance company to find out specific details. These vaccines can be quite expensive and often require a series of multiple injections (for example: the rabies series costs nearly $1,000).

Can Swarthmore cover the cost of my vaccines and other medical expenses?

You are responsible for any out-of-pocket healthcare related expenses, including vaccines and/or medications required to participate in your program.  In general,  it is important when planning to remember that some expenses associated with your program will be your responsibility, including costs for medical requirements to attend your program.  


Will I have health insurance during study abroad?

All students traveling on approved Global Engagement programs will receive insurance. Most students will be enrolled with CISI Cultural Insurance. Swarthmore's CISI policy information is available on the GEO website. 

In the case that a student's study abroad program offers its own insurance coverage that is equal to CISI, the student will then not be enrolled in CISI. (Students will not be enrolled in CISI if studying abroad through: AMIDEAST, AKP, IFSA Butler, Middlebury, Sarah Lawrence, SIT/IHP, or the Swedish Program.)

GEO will enroll students in CISI or their programs' insurance automatically (if students have completed all pre-departure requirements) before the start of the semester abroad. Students do not need to register for insurance abroad on their own.

What information is available on the CISI portal? 

You can access the CISI portal here. Once a student has been registered for CISI insurance, they will receive an email from CISI with login information for the website. 

The CISI website provides information on physical and mental health providers in cities around the world who will accept payment directly from CISI. Otherwise, students must provide payment for services and submit reimbursement requests to CISI. Through the CISI website, students can access a range of country-specific information and medical and security information, and search for health providers by country and city.

How can I provide proof of coverage?

If you are covered by Swarthmore College's CISI plan, you can obtain a proof of insurance letter from CISI (using the login information that you receive once you are enrolled in the policy) for visa or other purposes.  You should also print out your CISI insurance card and have the hard copy in your possession at all times.  

What if I'm planning to travel before/after my program?

Students are responsible for obtaining their own coverage for periods before or after the official enrollment dates of their program. If you are traveling before or after the dates of your program, you must make sure that you have health insurance and emergency travel insurance that will cover you at your own cost.

If you are covered by a CISI policy, it is easy to extend the coverage as needed (at your cost) by logging into your CISI portal and paying for insurance to cover the additional days.

What if additional insurance is required by my program?

In some cases, students will be required to purchase national health insurance plans for their study abroad country. The Global Engagement Office (GEO) will cover those costs for locations where this might be relevant. 

Are there any insurance limitations or exclusions?

Students should carefully review the policy, to familiarize themselves with exclusions pertaining to high risk activities such as certain forms of mountaineering where ropes or guides are normally used, hang gliding, sky diving, parasailing, bungee jumping, and racing (horse, auto, motorcycle). There are also specific coverage limits regarding charges due to pre-exisiting conditions.

Since I'll be insured while abroad, can I give up my usual insurance during that semester?

NO. Students are expected to remain on the insurance plan they would have if they are in their home country or at Swarthmore. This additional insurance may be needed if students' circumstances change.

Wellness Abroad

What if I need prescription medications?

Whenever possible, it is best to arrange with your insurance company to purchase and take with you an ample amount of medication, rather than having medications shipped to you. The latter could easily result in the medications never getting out of customs and therefore not reaching you. Consult with the Worth Health Center, and they can help you communicate with your insurance provider about this.   

Students who are covered by CISI insurance can contact CISI to obtain information about the best way to travel with their medications.  Be sure to bring your medications in your carry-on, not in checked luggage, to reduce the chance of theft.  You should travel with a letter from your doctor that explains your need for any prescriptions medications that you bring (this should include the generic names of the drugs).  Always bring medications in their original containers with clear labeling. 

Mental Health 

Can I meet regularly with a counselor while I am abroad?

Living abroad represents many new challenges as well as changes to familiar routines.  If you currently see a counselor, it is extremely important to discuss your plans to study or live abroad. Ask your current counselor for advice about locating ongoing therapy and/or access to medication at your abroad site.  Do not assume that you will have access to the same level of availability of services and access to specific medications that you have in the United States.  Both CAPS and staff of the Worth Health Center can help you with questions concerning your physical and mental health needs while abroad.  

Everyone should keep in mind that cultural adjustment is a normal part of living abroad.  However, if your period of adjustment begins to effect your relationships, your academic work, or your daily life, you should seek to talk to a counselor. 

Will my study abroad site offer mental health services?

You should also make your counseling needs known to your host program or university. Please note that appropriate mental health professionals may not be available at all study abroad locations.  Consult with your study abroad program or university in advance about what services will be available.  Students covered by the College's CISI travel policy can explore access to counselors that have been identified by CISI by logging in to the CISI website.

Can I access CAPS while studying abroad?

CAPS does not offer distance counseling or psychotherapy to students while studying abroad (due to state licensure laws).  However, while away from campus, you do have access to the CAPS 24/7 on-call phone service: 610-328-7768.

In the event of an acute mental health concern, CAPS may provide consultation services to established CAPS clients in coordination with the Global Engagement Office and the host program.  In most cases, CAPS consultation would be auxiliary to any assessment or evaluation that the host program might require, and would not serve a primary diagnostic or evaluative function. 

Can I use Talkspace while overseas?

You can also access Talkspace while abroad.  Swarthmore partners with Talkspace to provide convenient, personal, and professional online messaging therapy year-round.  With Talkspace, all Swarthmore students can regularly send unlimited text, audio, and video messages to a dedicated licensed therapist anytime, anywhere. Talkspace is confidential and secure. There are no fees for Swarthmore students to use Talkspace.

What if my medications are classified as controlled substances?

First, make sure your prescriptions medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics by the foreign country.  Some medications that are legal in the US might be illegal in another country. Please see additional guidance relating to prescription medications under "Wellness."