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Back to School- Tips for Studying Abroad with IBD

Studying abroad is an exciting opportunity for students to explore new cultures, gain valuable experiences, and broaden their horizons. However, embarking on this adventure can bring unique challenges for students living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

The idea of managing IBD while studying in a foreign country might be daunting, but with careful planning and preparation, it can be an enriching experience.

If you are considering studying abroad, the following tips can help you manage your condition while traveling and living in another country.

Watch the video: Back to School- Tips for Studying Abroad with IBD

Consult with Your Healthcare Team

Before making any decisions about studying abroad, it is crucial to consult your healthcare team.

Talk to your gastroenterologist or IBD specialist about your plans and ensure they are on board with your decision. They can provide valuable insights, review your medical history, and offer recommendations to help you manage your condition during your time abroad.

Research Your Destination

Once you’ve chosen a study abroad program or university, research your destination thoroughly. Look into the availability of medical facilities, healthcare services, and accessibility to your prescribed medications.

It’s essential to have a good understanding of the local healthcare system and how to access it in case of emergencies or routine check-ups.

Additionally, you can use the CDC Yellow Book to research your destination and learn about required vaccines. Remember to speak to your doctor before getting vaccinated to avoid possible interactions with your medications.

Arrange Medication Supply

Ensure you have an ample supply of your medications before leaving for your study abroad. Depending on the duration of your stay, you may need to coordinate with your healthcare provider to have enough medication to last the entire period.

Additionally, consider obtaining a letter from your doctor detailing your medical condition and the need to carry medications to facilitate passage through customs.

If you are traveling for an extended period, research the availability of your medication in the country you are traveling to. Ask your doctor to help you review your findings and recommend safe alternatives if needed.

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Find Local Support

Contact support groups or local organizations dedicated to IBD patients in your study abroad location. Connecting with fellow IBD patients can provide a sense of community and a valuable support system. They may also offer practical advice on navigating the local healthcare system or share their experiences, helping you feel more at ease during your stay.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Studying abroad can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. To manage your IBD effectively, prioritize a healthy lifestyle.

Get enough rest, maintain a balanced diet, and stay hydrated. Avoid trigger foods and excessive alcohol consumption, which can exacerbate IBD symptoms. Engage in regular physical activity to help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

Communicate with Your Professors

Be open and transparent with your professors or study abroad coordinators about your condition. Inform them about your needs and any challenges you might face due to your IBD.

Having this communication in place can be helpful in case you need any accommodations or flexibility during your studies.

Plan Your Biologic Infusions

If you are on biologic infusions, plan to receive treatment abroad. Speak with your healthcare provider about options for receiving your infusions in your study abroad location.

Insurance Coverage

Review your health insurance coverage to understand what medical expenses will be covered while studying abroad.

Some countries may have healthcare facilities that can administer your medication. However, your doctor may need to provide a prescription referral with detailed instructions on your treatment dosage and frequency.

Consider purchasing additional travel insurance that specifically covers pre-existing medical conditions like IBD.

This will provide you with peace of mind and financial security in case of any unexpected medical needs.


Studying abroad with IBD requires careful planning, but it can be a gratifying experience. By consulting with your healthcare team, preparing in advance, and being proactive about your health, you can maximize your study abroad journey while managing your IBD effectively.

Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources and support available to help you navigate this exciting chapter in your life. Embrace the adventure and take the necessary steps to ensure a successful and enriching experience abroad.

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