Health & Safety
Students (and faculty) choosing to participate on a KIIS study abroad program will need to be fully vaccinated—booster shot included, if eligible for the booster—against Covid-19 at least three weeks prior to program departure. CDC-approved Covid-19 vaccinations include Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna (two shots + booster), or Johnson & Johnson (initial single shot + booster). Booster eligibility: the CDC timeline to get a booster shot is either a) at least 5 months after completing your original two-shot COVID-19 vaccination series with Pfizer or Moderna, or b) at least 2 months after receiving your original single shot of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/booster-shot.html). Vaccines and boosters are widely available at no cost to you, for example, at your college/university, Kroger, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, local clinics/medical facilities, among other locations. Students (and faculty) will need to provide proof of full Covid-19 vaccination—booster shot included, if eligible for the booster—to the KIIS office prior to program departure (you will come to upload a copy of your Covid-19 vaccination card/s in your KIIS account/portal). Please plan to bring your original Covid-19 vaccination card/s with you to present to U.S. and host country representatives in your KIIS program country/countries. We will discuss Covid-19 and other health & wellness matters in more detail at your pre-departure KIIS Student Orientation as well as your on-site KIIS Orientation.
Studying abroad likely is more physically strenuous than you are used to at home. KIIS study abroad programs typically involve approx. 5-10 miles of walking (approx. 10,000-20,000 steps) or the like in a day, including the possibility of walking, hiking and climbing stairs in heat and humidity, over elevations at higher altitudes, and over rocky terrain. In preparation for your KIIS study abroad program you would want to increase your fitness activity so you can walk 5-10 miles. If you have a documented disability accommodation need, feel free to contact KIIS Assistant Director, Maria Canning.
Staying healthy is important while abroad. If you have any concerns about your health prior to going abroad and/or while you are abroad, please speak to
It is very important to continue medications that you are taking at home when you travel abroad even if you are feeling better.
Speak to your Medical/Mental Health professional(s) before making changes to your medications and make sure you have enough medication to last for the duration of your program plus 2-4 weeks beyond your program dates.
- If you take medications on a schedule, speak to your doctor or pharmacist about adapting to a new time zone.
- If you take over-the-counter medications routinely, bring these medications with you in their original labeled bottles.
- Research to find out if your medication is legally permitted in your program country. In some cases, you may need documentation to carry a particular medication abroad.
- Take copies of all your prescriptions in your carry-on luggage.
If you struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues on a daily basis, or you have moments or periods of emotional distress, you may wish to schedule an appointment with a Mental Health Professional to discuss your study abroad plan and any needed resources while abroad. Many universities have counseling centers which provide free mental health screenings or appointments with a counselor for a minimal charge.
Sample Topics to Discuss with a Mental Health Professional:
- Types of support needed before, during and after study abroad
- Prescription medication(s)
- Anxiety/panic attack warning signs
- Coping techniques (Mindfulness, Meditation, Behavioral Activation, Journaling, etc.)
- Visit the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website to research any health risks or required immunizations for your host country.
- Plan a visit with your Medical/Mental Health professional(s) to discuss your study abroad travels and get any medications, vaccinations or immunizations.
- Research your host country to understand their customs and culture. Note: each KIIS program has a handbook with important cultural and safety guidelines.
- Increase your fitness activity if you do not currently exercise on a regular basis to be better prepared for your KIIS program. Many KIIS programs involve walking 5-10 miles (10,000-20,000 steps) or the like in a day, including the possibility of walking or hiking in heat and humidity, climbing stairs, over elevations at higher altitudes, and over rocky terrain.
- Gradually change your sleep patterns to avoid jetlag. If you are traveling east, try to go to bed a little earlier each night. If travelling west, try to go to bed a little later each night.
- Eat lightly
- Stay hydrated by drinking water. Avoid coffee, soda and alcohol.
- Avoid blood clots by taking short walks hourly. When sitting, flex your ankles often and avoid crossing your legs.
- Eat nutritiously to avoid getting ill. Budget travelers often eat more carbs than protein. Proteins are needed to help resist infection and rebuild muscle.
- Safe food and water Find out if water is safe to drink in your destination countries by checking the CDC website. Make sure water bottles come sealed when you buy them. Make sure fruits and vegetables are washed and clean and meat is fully cooked before consuming them.
- Decrease your exposure to germs by washing your hands often. Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth. If you become ill, speak with your KIIS Program Director.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Always keep an eye on your belongings to avoid theft. Avoid walking alone and stay on sidewalks and well lit areas.
- Travel Plans. Always inform your Program Director of your independent travel plans and provide contact information for any overnight accommodations.
“They told me that the first week in our month long journey would be the hardest, and they were right; but, it only becomes easier when you get out of your comfort zone and “dive in.”
-Andrew, Merida Mexico