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Culture Shock and Mental Health Abroad

Culture Shock 

There are several possible indicators of culture shock. These can include feelings of helplessness, loneliness, alienation, sleeping more than usual, depression, getting angry easily, decline in flexibility, stereotyping of host culture, increase of physical ailments, eating problems, inability to concentrate, and uncontrollable crying. Most, though not all, students experience some level of culture shock. The concrete indicators of culture shock vary greatly from individual to individual. Faculty directors have been trained to look for possible signs of culture shock in students so that they can help. Students should reach out to their on-site faculty director if they want to discuss how they are feeling or need help. Samford Counseling and Wellness services are also available to talk with students. 

Phone: 205-726-4083 

Mental Health Abroad 

The increase in the number of college students traveling or studying abroad is a positive development, expanding the students’ global perspective to better understand the culture and socioeconomic conditions that exist outside the United States. However, the newness of the environment for students can create stress and anxieties and for those with an underlying mental health condition. Emotional distress can have a profound impact on students' academic progress, personal relationships, and enjoyment of their experiences abroad.  

Students are encouraged to disclose their mental health issues in their application portal prior to going abroad. Students who have a mental health issue can contact Disability Resources Director, Katy Goodgame (, to request possible accommodations. Students must have a report on file that is that is documented and approved with Disability Resources prior to the commitment deadline for their program. Without a report on file with their office, students will not be given accommodations abroad.  

Prior to departure, students should contact GeoBlue for help creating a proactive plan. Students taking prescribed medications should contact their care provider to tell the physician they are going abroad and may need access to medications that may not be available in the country. Students should maintain usual dosage and pattern of taking medication while abroad and ask their physician how to adjust medications due to time zone changes. See prescriptions for more info.

Faculty directors have been trained to recognize signs of serious emotional distress and the resources to acknowledge concerns. Faculty directors will work with the GEO and follow emergency procedures in the event of a student mental health emergency. Students enrolled in study abroad and covered by GeoBlue insurance, can contact the Global Health and Safety Team for a mental health referral. GeoBlue can provide emergency referrals to mental health facilities and physicians, medical treatment, emergency medical payments, medical evacuation or repatriation, dispatch of medical specialists, and emergency travel by a family member to the host country, among other services. GeoBlue coverage also includes Global Wellness Assist, access to mental health professionals available by phone, email or web 24/7/365. 6 sessions are included in the plan, at no additional cost, to help students and families dealing with a challenging situation. Samford Counseling and Wellness services are also available to talk with students. 

Disability Resources Phone: (205) 726-4078  
Samford Disability Resources:  

GeoBlue Global Health and Safety Team 24/7: +1.610.254.8771 Outside US 1.800.257.4823 Inside US Toll Free
Using the GeoBlue Mobile app: Select Telehealth to talk to a counselor

Samford Counseling and Wellness phone: 205-726-4083