Health and Safety
If there are any issues abroad, please call the 24/7 OU Abroad Emergency Line at (405) 630-5392.
The health and safety of our students is our highest priority. Please thoroughly review the topics below, and stay in touch with your study abroad adviser while abroad, especially if you are having problems. Don’t wait until a difficult situation overwhelms you before contacting us. It’s best to let us know as soon as possible if you are facing challenges. We have experience in issues related to study abroad where your friends or parents may not, so please contact us first if you need help.
Make sure to check your OU email. While students are abroad we communicate exclusively through OU email. We send important reminders to you while you are gone.
Staying healthy abroad requires planning, research and smart decision making. Below are some suggestions to help you prepare to have the best experience abroad possible.
Education Abroad encourages all students to schedule an appointment with a health care professional as soon as they know where they will be studying abroad. This will give you and your doctor an opportunity to discuss how best to plan for your wellness abroad. OU Health Services offers travel consultations, and can advise students about immunizations, vaccinations and medication plans. To make an appointment, call the Goddard Health Center at 405-325-4441.
For more useful information, see the OU Health Services International Travel Brochure (PDF).
Many countries require immunizations prior to entering the country, and some immunizations are recommended for travel in certain parts of the country. Please visit the following websites for information on immunizations.
Immunizations can be obtained from OU Health Services, your family doctor, or a county health clinic.
Be prepared to undergo a fairly typical adjustment cycle during your stay. Expect some ups and downs. You'll start out with a great deal of excitement. Wherever you are studying will be the most fantastic place on earth. You'll be riding high with enthusiasm. After a while, the novelty will wear off and reality will set in. You may feel lonely, frustrated, disappointed, depressed, homesick, and irritable. You may even feel "abandoned" by your friends and family at home due to the lack of communication. You'll complain about many things and many people, you'll probably wish you'd never left home, and long to be back in the United States or your home country -- if you could ever imagine that!
These feelings of "culture shock" are perfectly normal and will pass with time as you develop friendships and make progress in the language. It is important at this point not to give up, but instead hang in there and keep swimming. This stage will pass and remember that your family and friends -- and all of us at OU's Education Abroad office -- believe in you and what you are doing. Bit by bit things will get better, the petty frustrations will tend to disappear, and you'll finally figure out who you are, where you are, and why you are there. As you complete your adjustment cycle, you'll come to accept and then enjoy everything, including the academics, food, drinks, habits, languages and customs of the host country. Finally when you complete your experience, you may not want to leave when it is time to go home.
Signs of Culture Shock
Some signs of culture shock might include disorientation, depression, homesickness, excessive sleeping, withdrawal and irritability. It is important to note that this is very common and is a normal part of the adjustment process. Most of you will go through some form of culture shock.
For most, the difficult part of culture shock will last from two to four weeks. It is important that should you or a friend show any of the signs above for more than a month, some outside counseling might be helpful. Most of the institutions abroad have counseling centers with qualified staff to help students through difficult times.
There are some things you can do to help alleviate culture shock. Keep a journal of your experiences; make yourself write in it every day. Write letters home to your family and friends. Make yourself go out with friends or join a club or association, even if you don't feel like it at the time. Finally, don't keep your feelings to yourself. Share them with other international and American friends.
It is hard to overemphasize the problems that can happen if you abuse alcohol and/or drugs while abroad. Most of the serious situations that occur are as a result of excessive consumption of alcohol or drug use. Many of them can be very serious and even deadly.
For more useful information visit the links below.
Lost and Stolen U.S. Passport Abroad
Assistance to U.S. Citizens Arrested Abroad
Prior to travel, our office also recommends that all study abroad participants register with the U.S. Department of State and review information on your host country compiled on the the State Department’s website.
Click to access the annual Sooner Safety Report (PDF) which includes information about some OU study abroad sites.