Chronic Health Conditions & Planning for Your International Exchange

A young American woman in a crowded market in Japan.
Explore strategies for managing your chronic health condition during your travels - you'll be glad you did!

"Being disabled doesn't mean I have to give up on my dreams," explains Emily Block, who studied abroad in over a dozen countries on the Semester at Sea program, all while managing a rare chronic health condition.

As a person with a chronic or acute health condition, also known as systemic disability, you have the right to apply for the same kinds of life-changing experiences overseas as everyone else!

Examples of chronic health conditions or systemic disabilities include: Arthritis, asthma, cancer, chronic fatigue, diabetes, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, immune system disorders, intolerance of certain foods and environmental irritants, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, medical conditions affecting particular organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver or lungs, and many others. 

Whatever your disability, there may be an international opportunity that is right for you. You might seek out a program that fits your access needs, for example a program with a flexible schedule or one in an area where doctors who share your language are widely available. Or, you might instead decide to adapt yourself to a program that doesn't specifically address your access needs, and work with program staff to make the best possible access arrangements. 

Read more on how to prepare to go abroad and what to expect in our Table of Contents.