Life Abroad Panels: Wellness

In April of 2023, The Champlain Abroad office hosted the Life Abroad Panels with the aim of providing valuable insights and support to students preparing for or interested in studying abroad. These panels cover several different topics such as Wellness, Identity (with WGC), Food Issues, Academic Issues, Social Interaction, Finances, and Homesickness. These panels will serve as a way to share experiences, tips, and guidance from both staff members and former students who studied and lived in different countries. We recognize that these are not the only concerns students may have when it comes to studying abroad, therefore we urge students to fill out the Life Abroad Questionnaire that is provided to them on TerraDotta after they are accepted into our programs. Here, students will be able to list their concerns and they are encouraged to reach out to our office to discuss them further. Our study abroad coordinators are always willing to meet with students to answer questions and address concerns. The office also hosts various events and activities that can help students ease the transition of going abroad. To stay updated on the events and/or to book an appointment with our coordinators, check out our Events page. Ultimately, the life abroad panels served as a useful tool to empower and prepare students for their international experiences and ensure a successful and enriching time abroad. Here is the recording of the panel discussing how to deal with wellness while being abroad (closed-captioning available).

Below you can find a brief outline of the panel which was held on Zoom.

I. Introductions

Elin Melchior introduces herself and the topic of the panel. Other panelists introduce themselves as well.

  • Elin Melchior, Study Abroad Coordinator. Studied abroad at the University of Warwick, England
  • Erika Lea, Coordinator of First Year Transitions and Wellbeing Initiatives. Studied abroad in Zimbabwe
  • Sawyer Pezzolesi, 3rd-year Filmmaking major. Studying abroad in Auckland, New Zealand
  • Mollie Ingleston, 4th-year Game Production Management major. Interned abroad in Seoul, South Korea
  • Ping Melchior, 3rd-year International Business major. Studied abroad in South Korea, Greece, and Thailand

II. Wellness Concerns Before and While Studying Abroad

  • Elin asks the panelists what they were worried about regarding their wellness before going abroad.
  • Sawyer shares her concern about fitting in socially and making friends.
  • Mollie expresses concern about her physical health due to her chronic illness and the amount of walking she would have to do.
  • Ping shares concern about finding a group of people to hang out with and the language barrier affecting her ability to find what she needs for her health and wellness
  • Elin asks the panelists if they experienced any of their wellness concerns while abroad.
  • Sawyer shares that it was a bit of an issue finding people to connect with at first, but eventually found some through her classes.
  • Mollie shares that her long commute to work due to the distance between her housing and workplace was a big issue that exhausted her severely.
  • Ping shares that she got sick at least once during every trip, but most were not serious. She also pushed herself to talk to people to make friends.

III. Healthcare While Studying Abroad

  • Elin asked Sawyer and Molly about their experience with healthcare and pharmacy while abroad.
  • Sawyer has all her medications with her, went to the emergency triage for a head injury which was taken care of easily and for free, and mentions the quality of healthcare in other countries.
  • Molly had a recurring infection that she was treating with antibiotics, but it was getting worse. She went to a pharmacy to get kinesiology tape for her knee, which was easy with the help of a coordinator. She did not need to visit a doctor.
  • Ping advises anyone using a third party to have a residential director or someone who speaks the native language come with them to the hospital. She had her resident director with her in Greece and Thailand.

IV. Counseling, Chronic Illnesses, and Insurance

  • Counselors cannot work across state lines, but programs have relationships with counselors that students can use.
  • Students can make use of counselors while abroad and should reach out for help proactively.
  • Students with chronic illnesses should keep in touch with their doctors and have a conversation with them before leaving the country.
  • Planning ahead for mobility issues and tiredness is important, especially in places where a lot of walking is expected.
  • Different programs use different insurance companies, and students may have to pay out of pocket and be reimbursed later.

V. Champlain Crisis Line and Wellness Tips

  • The Champlain Crisis Line is available to students abroad and should be used as a last resort during emergencies. Reports go to the director of counseling
  • Privacy laws in certain countries limit communication between medical professionals and Champlain College
  • Medical information must be proactively shared by students when needed
  • Hydration is an essential part of wellness, especially while traveling
  • Finding healthy food choices abroad can be difficult, and fruits are often expensive
  • Sawyer emphasizes the importance of mental health and recommends setting up mental healthcare before traveling. She mentions cooking for herself and doing a little bit of exercise
  • Recommendations for students include learning how to cook, discussing plans with someone before leaving, and having resources available at home.

Highlights:

  • The Champlain Crisis Line is available to students abroad as a last resort during emergencies, and reports go to the director of counseling.
  • Privacy laws in certain countries limit communication between medical professionals and Champlain College. Medical information must be proactively shared when needed.
  • Hydration is an essential part of wellness, especially while traveling.
  • Finding healthy food choices abroad can be difficult, and fruits are often expensive.
  • Students can make use of counselors while abroad and should reach out for help proactively.
  • Students with chronic illnesses should keep in touch with their doctors and have a conversation with them before leaving the country.
  • Planning ahead for mobility issues and tiredness is important, especially in places that expect a lot of walking.
  • Different programs use different insurance companies, and students may have to pay out of pocket and be reimbursed later.
  • Recommendations for students include learning how to cook and discussing plans with someone before leaving.

Links to Other Life Abroad Panels

More General Advice
Packing for Abroad
Montreal Culture Differences
Life Abroad Panels: Finance Issues