Northwestern students with disabilities participate in study abroad programs around the world; the key to a successful experience is planning. Understand, however, that attitudes and perceptions about accessibility and accommodation for students with emotional, mental, learning or physical disabilities may vary at different program sites and locations.
Students registered with AccessibleNU who are eligible for on-campus accommodations are also eligible for accommodations abroad when it can be arranged.
As you explore program options, review this page for important considerations as part of your planning process.
Questions to Consider
- What are my primary goals for my study abroad experience and what types of programs will help me achieve them?
- What are common adjustment considerations for my host country and how will I manage these adjustments (re: dietary changes, food allergies, language, environmental factors like high elevation, etc).
- What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad, and while abroad) and how will I overcome them? When considering aspects of my identity, how may these be perceived and treated in my host culture?
- What are the physical environments like in the host country? What do academics look like in my host country/on my program (e.g. mainly lecture, independent research, etc)?
- How might my disability impact which programs I consider?
- Is there any disadvantage to disclosing my condition to my Global Learning Office adviser or AccessibleNU?
Note: Health conditions and/or disability considerations are not factored into application decisions. However, it important that you think about these considerations early in the process, even before acceptance into a program. Our first priority is to help you have a safe and positive experience abroad, so we encourage you to disclose.
- How will I plan ahead to manage my condition when abroad?
- If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at Northwestern, how can I utilize resources abroad? Where can I find the resources I need?
Prescription Medication Considerations
- Talk with your prescribing physician well in advance of your program departure about obtaining an adequate supply of prescription medications you need for the duration of your study abroad program.
- Contact GeoBlue Global Health Insurance to determine if your medication is available and legal in your countries of interest.
- When traveling, carry your prescription medications in your carry-on bag in their original container along with the hard-copy prescription with your physician's explanation of the condition and the generic and brand names of the medication and dosage information.
- Do not plan on mailing medications abroad since it will require customs paperwork and may be delayed in delivery.
- Think about and rehearse how you will answer questions about your disability in the language of your host country. Look up key vocabulary words ahead of time.
- Review Mobility International’s prescription medications tip sheet for more information related to: availability, legality, coverage of costs, back-up supply, time zone changes, interaction with other medications.
- Watch this short video for more recommendations about prescription medication abroad.
- Mobility International USA: Information on education and travel for people with disabilities.
- Access Abroad: Comprehensive guide for students with disabilities who want to study abroad.
- Abroad with Disabilities: Facebook page started by Juanita Lillie, a student from Grand Valley State University who studied abroad in Costa Rica, as a resource for other students with disabilities who wish to study, intern, volunteer or work abroad. The page posts and compiles many great resources, and seeks to be a space where students can openly ask questions to others and also share their experiences abroad and make suggestions for future students.
- Diversity Abroad Country Overview Notes are a great starting point to learn about accessibility perceptions and laws in your countries of interest. Contact your Global Learning Office adviser for this information for your countries of interest.
- Check out videos of Stanford students talking about their study abroad experiences, and how their accommodations impacted their term abroad.
- Disclose your disability needs to your Global Learning Office adviser and Northwestern’s AccessibleNU. Our offices will work with you to discuss reasonable accommodations abroad and assist you with the planning and pre-departure process. To better help you prepare, please contact us as early as possible.
- Contact returnees from the country and/or programs that you are considering. They can tell you about their experiences abroad.
- Read more about travelers with disabilities on the Office of Global Safety and Security's website as well as the Office of Equity.