5 health items to pack for your year abroad

Preparing for your year abroad is a big deal – but you might get too sidetracked by all the clothes, charging cables, and notepads to remember all the stuff your mum usually keeps in her cupboard. We’re talking about the things you reach for automatically when you’re feeling a little sick, the stuff that’s always there, but will it be on your year abroad? Don’t get caught without these healthy little lifesavers.

1. Get your eyes tested

What could be worse than landing in a new country and discovering that reading the lecture board or studying your textbooks gives you a major headache. Head to your local opticians to get a checkup to save yourself the stress later. It might be unnecessary – or you might find that wearing glasses could improve your year abroad! Afterall, 6/10 of the population are vision impaired. If you want to be extra healthy, keep up the habit every two years.

2. Scan your prescriptions and medicines

If you take any ongoing medication then it’s always a good idea to scan them before you leave. Digital copies have the benefit of being portable, taking up less room, and having a lower chance of getting lost. It’s always advisable to try and get enough of your medication before you leave, just in case it’s not available in your new country. And remember: always check what the stance on birth control is whenever you move abroad.

3. Stock up on painkillers

This might be hard to believe, but some countries don’t sell certain painkillers over the counter. Things like Ibuprofen might be harder to come by than you think, so bring a few packs with you to make sure you’re never caught out with a headache – from studying too hard and not from hangovers, obviously!

4. Stash the cold and flu remedies

Whether it’s from stress, a new climate, or from all the new friends you made – your year abroad is bound to include a couple of colds. Since we often crave comfort in our time of need, a few packets of your usual cold medicine of choice is always a good investment. Not only will you avoid having to venture out from the comfort of your bed to a pharmacy, but there’s something about flavour preferences that make illness a little more bearable. France might not stock those strawberry throat sweets you love so much at home…

5. Don’t forget your EHIC card

Sometimes painkillers and cold medicine just won’t cut it and you’re going to have to find a doctor. If you’re an EU national studying in another EU country, your EHIC will get you access to public medical care in doctors’ surgeries and hospitals. It may not seem as important as your beloved student discount card, but this credit card-sized saviour will be the answer if you get really sick. Pack it in your wallet now and leave it there until you need it.

Did we miss anything out? What are you packing to stay healthy on your year abroad?

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Rosy Parrish

Rosy Parrish grew up in Britain and now lives in Madrid. She divides her time between teaching English, writing about expat life, and befriending dogs in the street.