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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi, I'm Abigail, a 19 year old college student. I've been looking into a study abroad program over the summer. It would be four weeks in Italy. I would love to go but am hesitant to apply to the program since I am scared that I will get sick and miss my course and need to suffer through a foreign country's hospital system (the United States is bad enough for me, and they speak English).
My triggers are lack of sleep, not eating or drinking enough, stress, heat, and over-exertion. Getting any kind of sickness like a cold or getting my period are also triggers but pretty much out of my control.
Does anyone here have similar triggers to me and any tips on how to deal with travel? I'm worried about the time change and the different food I will be eating. I also know that sometimes social settings can cause me anxiety and possibly too much stress but maybe that's something I just need to work through on my own. Any tips on how to deal with time changes, eating abroad, and sleeping well would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! 

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Reply with quote  #2 

HI Abigail, it is tough to let CVS control your choices.  Maybe if you can set your mind to knowing how to relax, meditate, it could help you with the anxiety that is inevitable going to a new country.  There are aps now for meditation and I think there are devices that can help you know if your mind is truly in a meditative state.

Being in any new location will mean the water used is different from your own water in your home and college location.  Maybe you could start by not eating fresh uncooked foods, any fruit or veggies you buy might be cleaned in bottled water.   Only drink bottled water from a reputable source.  I have been told that red wine (not sure if 19 is legal for alcohol in Italy?) can help with unfamiliar foods and cooking methods.  I also recently read that taking Pepto four times a day can be helpful when traveling (check with your doctor of course for the safety of using Pepto for four months).

Time changes are tough.  Some say to jump right in, others say to gradually help yourself to adjust.  Go to bed a bit earlier each night until you are adjusted.

Prepare to not over exert and try to stay cool if that is a trigger.  And of course work to stay healthy.

If your doctor approves, you might try keeping prostaglandin production lower toward your period.  A week before starting Ibuprofen can be helpful in reducing prostaglandins.  Again review with your Gyn.  It is probably too late to experiment with different hormone therapies to suppress your period?

My daughter had many of the same triggers.  We did not allow a term abroad for those reasons but now I think she should have been allowed to go.  She has since traveled abroad and not become ill.

Check over the health plan you will have abroad.  I think, depending on where you are located, you will find English speakers in the medical settings.

Do your due diligence, be confident that you have covered contingencies and then go and enjoy.  Let us know about the great term abroad!


ginny CVSA Moderator

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Posts: 858
Reply with quote  #3 
I agree with Ginny on adjusting to the water and eating abroad. 

For traveling.. the time change is a big one. We have done West coast to East Coast with my CVSer. He is preemptive about sleeping issues. Will try and rest before. Adjust your sleep schedule gradually like Ginny was suggesting.  Trying early to get yourself on the new time zone. We do that just for adjusting to different school schedules. Summer versus semester times. 

I would suggest checking our international list ( as well for Italian contacts who could be helpful for if you need help.

We try and just be as prepared as possible for any situation that we could encounter or are worried about. Making sure we know where to get medical help. Info on your treatment plan. access to meds that you typically use. The more prepared we feel the less stress we have.

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