Health Archives - MadridEasy


Studying Abroad & Medical Insurance

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Medical insurance is one of those things students either avoid or ignore altogether when preparing to study abroad. There are a million stories about the inconveniences of having to pay your medical costs up front or finding the closest hospital while you’re traveling in a country where you don’t speak the language. But instead I’ll encourage you to just think about this – you’re in another country on the other side of the world, would you really want to break a leg, or worse, be close to death on a hospital bed without insurance?


Most study abroad programs will require you to purchase student health insurance or in a health benefit plan before you even go abroad. First check to see if your current plan or the plan you are under covers you abroad, and second, if it covers you beyond the basic trip to the ER. If not, here are a few steps for finding the right coverage.

Study Abroad Medical Insurance: What You Should Know Beforehand

  • Research indicates that most study abroad students don’t have comprehensive insurance for travel outside the U.S. (even though they assume they do).
  • Parents’ plans often offer limited coverage outside the U.S. or are restricted in the coverage length.
  • Students need to be aware of their limits of coverage (pre-existing conditions, deductibles, reimbursement, etc.).
  • Students should understand that medical care outside the U.S. may operate differently from those in the U.S. and aren’t subject to the same rules and regulations.

Study Abroad Medical Insurance: Choosing The Right Coverage Provider

  • Does the insurance plan meet all requirements of both the country you are traveling to and the program you are studying abroad through?
  • Are there specific health insurance requirements in order to get a visa to enter the country you are studying in?
  • Does the insurance provider limit or exclude coverage of any services or pre-existing conditions?
  • Are there limits on which doctors, hospitals or other medical facilities you can go to?
  • Will you have access to emergency assistance services or an emergency hotline that can direct you to the nearest medical facilities or help explain treatment options?
  • Does the insurance plan cover Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation?

Reimbursement For Medical Expenses

  • Do you have to pay for services up front and submit for reimbursement later?
  • What specific information is required from doctors or hospitals in order to be reimbursed?
  • Will you be required to submit all claims in English and in US dollars?

Study Abroad Medical Insurance: Suggested Minimum Coverage Requirements

  • Coverage of up to $50,000 per illness or injury
  • Coverage provided worldwide
  • Emergency medical evacuation
  • Repatriation of Remains
  • 24-hour Travel Assistance Service

Study Abroad Medical Insurance: A Few Coverage Options

School Sponsored Insurance Plans

Look into whether or not your home college or university offers a student health insurance plan. This is pretty common among schools with well established and organized study abroad offices. More often than not, if your school does provide an insurance program, you’ll actually have to physically sign a waiver if you don’t want to participate in it.

International Student Identity Card

Your ISIC provides basic sickness and accident coverage including emergency evacuation insurance, repatriation and accidental death or loss/ use of limb(s) coverage. A letter outlining the policy is included with the card.


And finally, make sure to take a copy of your health insurance card and important policy information with you both when you head to your abroad location as well as all other travels.

Surviving Jet Lag

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If you are moving to Madrid in the following months to either work or study you must know that the first obstacle you’re going to have to tackle is jet lag. Flying from the US to Europe, you switch your wristwatch six to nine hours forward, but there is no such switch on your body and it starts telling you: “Hey buddy it’s time to go to sleep.” And it’s only mid day. You’ve done things on a 24-hour cycle all your life. Now, after crossing the big blue Atlantic, your body wants to eat when you tell it to sleep and sleep when you tell it to enjoy a trip to the museum.

Too many people assume their first day will be made worthless by jet lag. Don’t do this to yourself; turning into a zombie on your first day abroad will only dampen your day or week Most people tend to be very hyperactive on their first day, thus burning that extra energy and enjoying the day.

There is no sure fire way to avoid jet lag, but with a few tips listed below you can minimize the symptoms:

  • Leave home well rested. Flying halfway around the world can be quite stressful. If you leave stressed out after last night’s hurrah, there’s a good chance you won’t be 100% for the first part of your trip. Pretend you’re leaving two days before you really are. Make your last 48-hour period sacred, take it easy, eat well, try not to drink and force yourself into an earlier sleeping habit. You will also have two quiet, peaceful days after you’ve packed so that you are physically ready to fly. Mentally, you’ll be comfortable about leaving home and starting this adventure. You’ll fly away well rested and 100% capable of enjoying the bombardment of your senses that will follow once you land.
  • Use the flight to rest and reset. The in-flight movies are good for one thing — nap time. With a few hours of sleep during the 7/8 hour flight, you’ll be able to function on the day that you land. When the pilot announces the European time, reset your mind along with your wristwatch. Don’t prolong jet lag by reminding yourself what time it is back home. Force yourself into Europe time.
  • On arrival, stay awake until an early local bedtime. If you doze off at 4:00 p.m. and wake up at 2am, you’ve accomplished nothing and the jet lag will lay heavy on you. Take a stroll until at least 8pm. Jet lag hates fresh air, daylight, and exercise so get plenty of that into your system. Your body may beg for sleep, but stand your ground: Refuse. Force your body to shift over to the local time. You’ll probably wake up very early on your first morning. Trying to sleep later doesn’t really work, you’ll want to go to sleep at a descent time and if you wake up at 5 or 6am get a glass of warm milk and go back to sleep. If that doesn’t work you’ll want to get out and enjoy a walk, as merchants set up in the marketplace and the town slowly comes to life.
  • Consider jet-lag cures. The last thing you want to do is medicate yourself, but a sleep aid can be a real life saver when fighting jet lag. But like all prescription medications they can have side effects — read and follow the directions, and carefully discuss using it with your doctor. Sleep aids are powerful. The little pill will help you get a good seven hours of sleep a night in Europe, or after flying.
  • Bottom Line: The best prescription is to leave home unstressed, minimize jet lag’s symptoms, force yourself into European time, and give yourself a chance to enjoy your trip from the moment you step off the plane. And don’t forget that at the end of the day it is your attitude that will determine whether you overcome jet lag quickly.