The National Health Council states that more than 50% of adults worldwide are coping with chronic illnesses or serious conditions. Of this, more than 5-7% are international students who are unable to get proper treatment for their preexisting conditions, or who have contracted an illness due to poor lifestyle habits.
Juggling your studies, part-time jobs, and social obligations, you might not find much time to take care of yourself. Topping it all off is homesickness, for which no medical solution exists. While most universities in the U.S. provide healthcare and counseling, staying healthy is not easy.
Believe us, you are not alone! There are other international students like you looking for guidance to maintainin good health. Even if you’re not one of them, we’d recommend that you follow the “precaution is better than the cure” rule.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you maintain good health.
A Physical Checkup Should Come First
Even before you apply for a student visa, get that long-overdue physical checkup. There might be some ailments that need attention immediately and take a long time to cure. It’s always better to get an illness cured, or find a sustainable solution for it before leaving your country. Make sure to keep copies of all your health records in case your school asks for them. Ask your doctor to provide you with important documents like:
- Medical history
- Immunization records
Before moving on to some tips that will help you stay healthy while abroad, make sure you have an international student medical insurance plan that provides coverage for medical expenses.
Reasons Why International Students Need Medical Insurance
You are moving to a new country. There can be common flu or ailments that you may be unaware of. Uncertainty hangs everywhere, and amidst this, an international student medical insurance plan can rescue you. It won’t save you from the ailment, but it’ll help you get necessary treatment without having to spend a lot.
Most universities expect you to have medical insurance before you enroll. So, don’t wait until the last moment to find an insurance provider.
Tips to protect your mental health as an international student
Managing your studies while coping with life in a new country can take a toll on your mental health. Here are some tips to help you beat the stress:
- Be realistic: You can’t do everything at the same time. Being in a new country with new people will overwhelm you for a while, and coping with that is a task on its own. Be true to yourself and your goals. Keep them realistic.
- Set a routine and follow it: Setting up a routine is one of the best ways settle in. A routine increases productivity, removes your stress for making decisions, and inspires personal sustainability.
- 60:40: That should be the ratio of your work-life balance. While your 60% will go into settling in, focusing on studies, and your part-time job, your 40% should be all about your hobbies, learning new things, exploring the city, and sleeping.
- Ask for help: Most universities in the U.S. provide counseling to international students. Don’t shy away from reaching out to the counselors or your professors if you feel overwhelmed.
- Spend time with friends: Of course, it’ll take you some time to make friends, but when you do, spend more and more time with them. Understand that it’ll take more time to build strong friendships and don’t expect a lot too soon. Sometimes you can also include your studies and do a group study session to build a better bond with them. Invite them over once you’ve settled in. It’ll make you feel less stressed and more relaxed, even if you have a test the next day.
- Learn to not be a people pleaser: Adjusting to a new life in a new country can turn you into a people pleaser before you know it. We’re not saying it’s bad to be kind and helpful, but going overboard is not good for your mental health. Know when to say no and when to choose yourself. You’ll cut out a lot of stress from your life if you do this.
Tips for international students that you won’t find elsewhere
Here are some tips for you that will be unexpectedly lifesaving when you’re stuck:
- Have your parents, closest friends, and your doctor as emergency contacts on your phone, so that if something happens to you, someone can reach out to them and seek faster help for you.
- Buy a medical insurance plan that covers physicians in the area where you’ll be living. This is a step that you need to take before you leave your country.
- Save your feet and your back by picking shoes instead of flip-flops for school, and a lighter backpack than an overfilled one.
- Getting a tan is cool, but not wearing sunscreen is not. A Sunday at the beach should not turn into a source for skin problems. Never forget to put on your sunscreen.
- If applicable, start setting gynecologist appointments one or two months after settling in. Hormonal imbalances tend to occur more when you’re undergoing a huge change in your life, and moving to a different country is one of the biggest changes imaginable. Seek help from your doctor to educate yourself on what to watch out for, and how to keep yourself healthier in a new environment.
Travel smart, study hard. Eat right, sleep tight.
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