Health & Wellness
Your physical and emotional health and wellness are important to us. Please review this information carefully and make the appropriate arrangements. Connect with our office if you would like to discuss any personal circumstances that may require accommodations.
- Travel Health
- Mental Health & Wellness
- Women's Health
- Sexual Health & Wellbeing
- Personal Safety Plan
Travel Health Preparations
The following is an outline of some of the preparations to take in advance of travels abroad. Depending on personal circumstances, additional preparations may be required or recommended.
Find out in advance if you need any special vaccinations or preventative medications for the countries you intend to visit. It may be necessary to start vaccination shots at least 3 months before you leave as you may need several inoculations.
Some countries may require you to show proof that you've received certain immunizations. Your health care provider should give you an official record of your vaccinations. Make an appointment with your doctor and the Nanaimo Travel Clinic to determine what you will need and the course of action.
Nanaimo Travel Clinic
Suite 420 – 2980 N. Island Highway
Additionally, we recommend exploring online resources that detail the health considerations for your host country. Some great resources include:
Health Canada: Travel health information for persons traveling outside of Canada.
World Health Organization: Facts about many tropical diseases, treatment & prevention.
Centre for Disease Control: Travel health by destination.
Serious Medical Conditions
Please contact Education Abroad to discuss any serious medical conditions prior to departure, including allergies and conditions requiring treatment.
Considerations: If you need syringes for conditions such as diabetes, it is extremely important that you take an appropriate supply and duplicate prescription, along with a doctor's note stating the reasons for your use of the medication and the recommended dosage. Also, consider whether you will need access to refrigeration for or electricity for any medical equipment.
If you have a chronic condition, a Medic Alert bracelet can be a wise investment.
What to do before you leave:
The following are some suggested actions to take in the semester before your travels:
Make an appointment with a physician for a general medical exam.
Visit a dentist and optometrist to get your teeth and eyes checked (particularly for those who will be abroad for a semester or longer).
- Make an appointment with the Travel Clinic and follow up with required and suggested immunizations.
- Obtain any special medications you require for the time you are intending to be away, and make arrangements with someone at home for a re-supply of prescriptions (including for contact lenses/glasses) in case of loss or if you are away longer than expected.
- Prepare your Personal First Aid Kit.
Mental Health & Wellness
Like with other strategies to maintain health & wellness abroad, it is important to plan ahead. This step may be as simple as making a plan to have a regular check-in with a support person or counsellor at home.
The experience of being in another country, surrounded by different cultural norms, without regular social supports can create stress and potentially exacerbate mental health conditions. Check into the Health & Wellness services at your host institution, and liaise with VIU Counselling Services and/or your regular counsellor for developing a wellness plan for your time abroad.
VIU Counselling Services
Health & Wellness Centre on the 3rd floor of Building 200
Hours: 8:30am - 4:00pm Monday - Friday
VI Crisis Line
For 24 hour mental health crisis support
Health Considerations for Women
There are a number of special health considerations that women must keep in mind when going abroad. Review the resources provided by the Government of Canada, and particular the publication Her Own Way: A Woman's Safe Travel Guide.
Contraceptive Considerations: Contraceptive medication may be unavailable in the host country. It is recommended to travel with an adequate supply. As major stomach upsets may cause your body to lose the ability to absorb birth control pills, bring an adequate supply of condoms. Also note that abortion is illegal in many countries.
Sexual Health & Wellbeing
Be sure to take all the precautions regarding STDs and HIV/AIDS that you would normally take at home. Do not assume that products such as condoms will be readily available, or that they meet the World Health Organization standards.
Most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) travelers from Canada experience no problems at all when they travel abroad. However, foreign laws and customs can be very different from those of Canada, which can result in increased risks. Researching and preparing for your trip in advance will help your travels go smoothly.
We recommend researching the host country, and reviewing resources and publications such as the Government of Canada's LGBTQ International Travel page.
Personal Safety Plan
One of the most important steps of any international travel experience is to learn all you can about your destination and evaluate what types of risks you might encounter. The risks might have the potential to impact your health and personal safety, and often can be mitigated with advance planning. Remember to consider if there may be additional cultural circumstances involved that may impact you.
All VIU students participating in independent Education Abroad programs (Internship, Exchange, Practicum Placements Abroad) are asked to complete this worksheet.
Click the link or image above to download the fillable PDF form.
To assist you with your research for this worksheet, review the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice & Advisories website in order to outline your country-specific risks: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.