Wellness, Health & Safety

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 Preparations

The following is an outline of some of the preparations to take in advance of travels abroad. When traveling internationally, you will want to take a number of health considerations into considerations before departure. You may need to make additional preparations depending on your personal circumstances, health needs, length of stay, etc. Do not leave these preparations to the last minute as it may take time to book the necessary appointments.

Immunizations

Find out in advance if you need any  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
Telephone: 250-740-6940
Website: www.tmvc.com/location/nanaimo-travel-clinic

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. Pre-existing conditions may not be covered by your emergency travel medical insurance policy. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance that meets your needs. 

Health Considerations:

  • Do you need to visit a health care provider before departure (doctor, optometrist, dentist, etc)
  • Do you need a supply of prescription medical for the duration of your activity
  • Do you need documentation to travel with your medication (ie: syringes)
  • Do you need any special accommodations to store or administer your medication (such as refrigeration for insulin)
  • How can you get additional medication if you need more in the event that your supply is lost or damaged while abroad
  • Do you need to make any follow-up medical appointments while abroad

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.

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
1-250-740-6416
services.viu.ca/counselling/

VI Crisis Line
1-888-494-3888
For 24 hour mental health crisis support
www.vicrisis.ca

 

Women and minority groups – such as indigenous peoples, people of colour, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ – may face additional safety considerations while travelling, such as discrimination, harassment, violence and unequal access to services, among others. If you identify as a member of one or more of these groups, you may want to make additional considerations depending on where you will be traveling. In Canada we have laws and legislation which protect individuals’ rights and freedoms from discrimination. However, these are not universal and countries may have laws or cultural norms that restrict women and visible minorities such as a lack of access to female physicians, lack of access to contraceptives and sexual health resources, discriminatory treatment by local officials, appropriate dress, etc.

Take the time to review resources developed by support/interest groups to help you plan your trip in ways to minimize risks.

Government of Canada resources:

When traveling, it is important to take your sexual health into consideration. While you may not intend to have relationships while abroad, you may find that your plan changes while you are away. In Canada, many people are uncomfortable talking about sexual and reproductive health but there are services that are available. In some countries, these services may be limited, difficult to access, non-existent, or illegal.

 Considerations:

  • Different cultures may have different understanding of consent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGoWLWS4-kU&feature=youtu.be
  • Take precautions to limit the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonnorhea, syphilis, chlamydia and HIV
  • Bring/provide your own condoms as they may not be regularly available in your host country or meet World Health Organization standards
  • Services such as abortion may be illegal in your host country

 Sexual Health Resources:

 

Sexual Violence and Misconduct

Vancouver Island University (VIU) is committed to creating a respectful, safe and supportive learning, working and living environment where members of the University community are free from sexual violence and sexual misconduct. VIU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedure demonstrate this commitment and ensure everyone, regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation feels safe and supported. Together, we can create a culture of respect and understanding.

If you have experienced sexual violence and misconduct while abroad and are in need of support, please visit VIU’s resource for the campus community: https://adm.viu.ca/sexual-violence-and-misconduct.

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.

Personal Safety Plan Worksheet:

viu_education_abroad_personal_safety_plan_fillable.pdf

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.

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