Learning Abroad Center

Pre-Departure Preparations: Tips from Students

How Accommodations Can Differ

Because the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is an US law which does not have jurisdiction in other countries, students may find that disabilities accommodations are the same, better or worse in their study abroad destination.  

  • Disability Resource Services, as a student support service, may not be provided at your host institution.
  • Attitudes around accommodations may be different in your host country.
  • Tutoring may not be a free service at the host university.
  • To obtain a visa, some countries require health information, which can delay the process.
  • Electricity for equipment or recharging batteries often requires adapters and/or converters.
  • Learning disabilities may not be recognized in some countries.
  • Sign language interpreters may not be certified or available at all times, and interpreting will generally be in the sign language of the country rather than ASL.
  • Some countries quarantine guide dogs before they are allowed into the country.
  • Bring mobility aids to use in restrooms without bars or on long train platforms.
  • Carry extra spare parts or differing types of casters for a wheelchair.

Medical/Prescription Needs

  • If you take prescriptions, make sure you have enough to last throughout the entire stay.
  • All medications should be stored in their original containers with their label attached and visible.
  • Carry a letter from a physician that describes the medication.
  • Always carry medication in your carry-on in the event your checked bag is delayed or lost.
  • It is illegal to have medication sent abroad to you via postal mail.
  • Confirm your health insurance covers any disability-related medical needs while overseas.
  • Ensure your medication is legal in your host country by contacting the consulate or embassy. 
  • The University of Minnesota requires students maintain their US health insurance whenever enrolled, including while learning abroad. Learn more.

Coping Strategies

  • Work early on with your home institution to arrange accommodations at your overseas site.
  • Learn to explain your disability in the host language.
  • Read about students with disabilities who have been abroad in order to learn from their experiences.
  • Your disability may intersect with your host culture in unexpected ways. It is important to research your host culture before you go, discuss customs with your hosts, and be open to creative solutions. 
  • Once abroad, on-site staff can help connect you with a student who has a similar disability.
  • If your home institution does not offer a list of mentors, contact Mobility International USA