International Student Insurance is just a click away; Introducing WhatsApp live chat!

March 23rd, 2022 by Antonio Zapata

We are happy to announce that the WhatsApp live chat is now available! 

We are always striving to provide efficient high-quality service to our customers and members, and we worked on developing this feature so it would be easier to contact us and get personalized assistance.

Through our WhatsApp live chat, our service team will be able to assist you with any type of request or inquiry. We can assist you with the following and much more:

  • Find the right insurance plan for you
  • Provide personalized quotes
  • Help you understand our insurance plans
  • Guide you through the claims process
  • Update personal information
  • Extensions and renewals

In addition, you will be able to send us documents such as waiver forms, insurance certification forms, lists of requirements, or any other document that you would like us to review or fill out for you.

How do I use the WhatsApp live chat?

We strive to facilitate the insurance process for our customers and this is no exception. Connecting with us through WhatsApp is designed to be as easy as possible. You can follow the steps below to start a chat with us:

  1. Go to the Contact Page

2. Choose WhatsApp from the online chat options

3. Open the WhatsApp app on your phone and go to Settings. Then click the QR icon you can find right next to your name

4. Scan the QR code you see after choosing WhatsApp from the online chat options

After following the steps listed above, you will be all set to start a chat and speak with an insurance agent!

This new way to connect with us will be convenient for our customers as they will be able to get personalized assistance right away. This feature will allow them to speak with an agent that will focus on helping with their health insurance needs and answer any questions they may have.

If you have any questions regarding our plans, need a plan recommendation, or need assistance with your existing insurance policy, please do not hesitate to contact us through our WhatsApp live chat!

Your Insurance Questions Answered!

February 17th, 2022 by Natalie Holland

It is finally here! The semester you have been waiting for: your first semester in the United States. You packed your bags and arrived at your new university, and there are so many new things to experience. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to come easily. With our help, though, learning about your insurance plan won’t be one of the hard ones! 

We gathered some of the top questions international students are curious about regarding our plans and have answered them all for you below. Here are your insurance questions answered.

I’m pregnant! Can I buy a plan to cover my delivery?

If you are already pregnant before buying a plan, unfortunately, the delivery will not be covered under our policies. However, on our Atlas Travel Medical plan, there is coverage for complications of pregnancy for the first 26 weeks. If you are not pregnant and want to purchase a plan that includes maternity coverage for future pregnancies, please give us a call, and we are happy to go through our plan options with you!

What if I need dental coverage?

Our plans include a small amount of dental treatment due to an accident or because of sudden pain. To learn about the exact amounts, please call or email as it may differ based on the plan that you purchased! If you are looking for dental coverage for things like cleanings, wisdom teeth, or root canals, you may be interested in purchasing a Discount Dental plan.

Do I have an online account I can access?

After purchasing a plan with ISI, you have access to an online Student Zone where you can find all the information you need to successfully manage your insurance. From this account, you can extend coverage, access claims information, download your ID card, and more. We recommend registering for your Student Zone account right away, so you don’t miss out on any important information!

What is an insurance network?

An insurance network is a group of doctors or hospitals that work with your plan. This means that they are often already set up to directly bill the insurance company for your visit. To find out which network your plan uses, check your ID card for logos. Some common provider networks on our plans include United Healthcare or Multiplan. Luckily, we have a provider search for all of our policies where you can put in your address and find all the doctors and hospitals around you that are in-network! You can access this through your Student Zone or contact us for more information.

Remember, if you do not go in-network, meaning you visit a doctor that does not work with the plan, you may be required to pay for your visit up front and file a claim to be reimbursed. Your coverage also might not be at the same level out-of-network; check your policy certificate for more details. 

To learn even more about insurance provider networks, visit our online resource here.

After I go to the doctor, do I have to worry about filing my own claims?

When you go in-network, the doctor should be set up to directly bill the insurance company for your treatment, as we mentioned above. However, even if you provide them with your ID card and they send the bill to the insurance company, you do still need to file a claim on your end. Fortunately, filing a claim is as simple as filling out the claim form in your Student Zone and emailing it to the insurance company. For fastest processing, please include a copy of your visa and passport in this email. If you have a student plan, you might also need to provide proof of student status. Additionally, if you paid for any treatment up front yourself, be sure to include all receipts with your claim. 

You can read more in-depth about claims and the process here.

If you have any specific questions about your insurance plan or need help deciding which policy is best for you, contact us! Our licensed agents are waiting to assist you by phone, email, or live chat.

Vaccinations for International Students in the US

January 31st, 2022 by Yessica Prato

The words vaccinations or immunizations have taken a whole new place in our society after two years into a pandemic. Usually, vaccination was a word reserved for illnesses like Measles or Chickenpox. However, COVID-19 brought up the importance of actually getting immunizations as the virus caused international borders to be closed for months. 

The work of Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur pioneered vaccinations and helped society combat viruses and even eradicate illnesses that killed millions centuries ago. It is ironic that a pandemic in the 21st century has many people questioning the effectiveness of vaccinations so let’s take a closer look at the most important vaccines that you probably already have or will need to get before studying in the US: 

Vaccinations needed to study in the US

Some of the most common vaccinations required for studying in the United States include MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), Tetanus-Diphtheria-Petussis (TDAP), Varicella (Chickenpox), Hepatitis B, and Polio. Additional vaccines may be required such as Meningococcal B (Meningitis), HPV, Flu shot, TB test (Tuberculosis).

Most of these immunizations are given to you as a child. Some may require booster shots as you age. However, it is recommended that you obtain your vaccinations at home before your travel as preventative care is very expensive in the US and you may be putting yourself at risk. 

Can I get vaccinated while I’m in the US?

Yes, you can get vaccinated when you arrive in the United States before starting classes. However, please note that vaccinations in the US can be very expensive. It is more cost-effective to obtain your vaccinations at home. Let’s take a look at the cost of vaccinations in the US: 

VaccineAverage Cost (USD)*
MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella)$100
Tetanus-Diphtheria-Petussis (TDAP)$55
Varicella (Chickenpox)$170
Hepatitis B$127
Meningococcal B (Meningitis)$150
HPV (Human Papillomavirus)$235
Flu shot$30
TB test (Tuberculosis)$100
Covid-19 Free (Currently Government Subsidized)

*Average cost taken from GoodRX

Do you offer plans that cover vaccinations?

Yes! We offer student plans that will cover some of the cost for specific vaccinations as such:

  • Student Secure plan – Elite level: This plan will offer coverage for up to $150 maximum for Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (TDAP); Chicken Pox (Varicella); Hepatitis B; Meningitis (Meningococcal MCV4 and B); and COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 vaccinations
  • Geoblue – Navigator plan: The plan offers coverage for immunizations recommended by the CDC and travel vaccinations.
  • Cigna Global plan: By adding the International Outpatient coverage, you will be covered for Influenza (flu); Tetanus (once every 10 years); Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Meningitis; Rabies; Cholera; Yellow Fever; Japanese Encephalitis; Polio booster; Typhoid; HPV; and Malaria vaccinations.

Since vaccinations fall under preventative care, it is important to note if your plan offers coverage for them. Be sure to check with your insurance administrator to confirm if you have coverage for vaccinations or immunizations. If you don’t have an insurance plan that offers coverage for vaccinations, the US Department of Health and Human Services offers guidance on where to seek free or low-cost vaccinations.

How to Make the Best of Your Holidays While Staying on Campus

December 22nd, 2021 by Natalie Holland

With the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, this holiday season might not look exactly how you planned it. Many of us started making plans again and maybe even bought plane tickets home to see our families, only to have the Omicron variant keep us stuck in our dorm this December. It is disheartening to let the holiday season pass without seeing our loved ones, but safety is the biggest priority this year. Being alone doesn’t have to lead to boredom, though! Here is our list of things you can do this holiday season from your dorm to get in the spirit and stay safe.

Stay Entertained

  • Did you know that most of your favorite board games have an online version? While you might not be in the same room as your sister, you can still beat her in Monopoly! Schedule a game night with your family virtually and experience all the chaotic fun of being home for the holidays.
  • Nothing makes your dorm feel more like home than filling it with the smells of your favorite dish. Does your family usually make a specific meal around the holidays? Why not try out the recipe yourself? I know my family has a rather odd tradition of making chili around the holidays. So this year, I will be making my own pot in honor of my family.

Stay Healthy

  • If you start to feel sick, be sure to take proper procedures if you decide to seek treatment. Check to see if your insurance plan has a telemedicine service so that you can talk to a doctor on the phone. If your plan is with International Student Insurance, write us a quick email, and we can let you know if this is included in your policy. 
  • If you can’t see a doctor online, call your local urgent care to see if they are open. Most of them will be open even during the holiday. If you think you may have COVID-19 let them know so they can prepare ahead of time and inform you of the necessary steps.

Stay Mindful

  • The holidays can be a hard time to be without your family and friends. It is okay to feel sad or disappointed. However, try to focus on the positives of the season. You can create new memories and traditions for years to come. You can take time to clean out your space and refresh it for the new year. You could even see if a local friend has room for one more at their dinner table should COVID-19 regulations allow. 
  • If you are having a hard time, there are volunteers and professionals that can help. If you just need to talk, why not try calling a warmline, it is like a hotline but for less urgent or immediate crises. You could also join a support group 24 hours a day through Inspire moderated by mental health counselors. You can learn more about support during the holidays below.

This year, let’s create new memories from the comfort of our living room. Even if you are spending the holidays by yourself, you are not alone. International students all over the United States are unable to return home for winter break and are experiencing similar hardships. Have more ideas on how to make the best of your holidays while staying on campus? Let us and your fellow international students know below!

How to deal with homesickness as an international student

November 10th, 2021 by Alexis Ponce

Homesickness can be defined as the feelings of sadness, anxiety or stress you may feel when you’re away from the people and places that are familiar to you.

After spending months surrounded by family and indoors, for the new international students that may be traveling for the first time to study abroad, homesickness is going to prove to be a greater challenge than pre-pandemic. 

Being away from your loved ones (family, friends or partners), your pets, and your traditions might be difficult when you find yourself in a different country and culture, and sometimes even a new language.Though I haven’t been an international student, I can relate to being homesick, having moved from my hometown to a big city, where the weather, rhythm of life, and the people were so different from what I was used to!

Here at International Student Insurance, we want to present to you some tips that might help you cope with feeling homesick while you adapt to the new place and people that surround you.

1. Allow yourself to feel sad and miss home for a bit

Yes, we understand that you might have to focus on your studies, particularly if you have a scholarship, but allowing yourself to express your emotions is a healthier way to cope than bottling everything up. I have found  a useful strategy to set a time during the day to cry or just feel sad, since letting your emotions out in a controlled environment will allow you to move on and focus on other important responsibilities throughout the day. Another way to cope is by journaling and putting your feelings in writing. You’ll realize that, as time passes, you will start feeling more at peace with the idea of being away from home!

2. Find a new favorite place in the host country

Sometimes the feelings of homesickness are not only attached to people, but also places that we enjoy visiting. We all have that one favorite spot in our cities; it could be places such as a coffee shop, library, or even a place where you can be close to nature, like the woods of the beach. For example, my favorite spot in my city is a cafeteria around the corner, where I like to go sometimes on Saturdays to have coffee and lunch, and usually bring a book with me.I find that being surrounded by a comforting environment can help you cope when you are feeling blue or homesick. Even though being in a foreign country can be overwhelming at first, think of the many places that you can discover and how exciting getting to try different foods or activities in a new place can be!

3. Practice self-care

Little acts of kindness towards oneself can make a big difference in your overall happiness and mood! Self-care may vary depending on the person. Activities such as cooking your favorite nutritious meal, taking a relaxing bath using your favorite products, or practicing meditation or yoga are examples of things you can do when you’re feeling sad and need to pamper yourself a little! 

Did you  know that exercising works wonders for your body when you’re feeling sad? When you exercise, your brain increases the production of serotonin, which improves your overall mood and increases your energy levels! Taking time to do things that make you happy can help you combat those feelings of homesickness.

4. Talk to new people

This might be easier for some than for others, but creating new bonds in the host country will help you alleviate the feelings of homesickness. Don’t forget that, the same as you, many other international students might be dealing with the same feelings of missing home and you should think of this as an opportunity to get to know different people and their cultures! You might also want to check if your university or college offers clubs or activities that you can engage in, since that would help you keep yourself busy and interact with more people that have interests or hobbies similar to yours. 

5. Keep in touch with your loved ones back home (but not too much!)

While calling your family once or twice a week when you’re away can ease the feelings of homesickness, calling them everyday might reinforce it! Therefore, it is recommended that you limit your contact with your loved ones while dealing with homesickness. Staying away from social media can also help with this, since you won’t be paying attention to what your friends or family are doing back in your home country. Instead, focus on exploring your new surroundings and meeting new people!

Feeling homesick when you first begin your international studies is completely normal and usually temporary. However, if you notice a change in your eating and sleeping habits and you’re feeling tired and unmotivated, you might be dealing with depression and depression isn’t something you want to ignore. If you’re feeling like this, talk to somebody! You’re not alone! Many universities offer free counseling for their students and there are also other resources that you can use. You may find some useful resources below:

Insurance Coverage for Organized, Adventure, and Recreational Sports

October 11th, 2021 by Leah Hammond

For the past two weeks, I’ve been visiting my sister, helping to take care of her after she suffered a season ending knee injury while playing in a high-level club ultimate frisbee tournament. This has been a challenging time for her – she can’t walk on her own and is having to take time off from her job as a physical therapist. As stressful as this has been, one thing she hasn’t had to worry about is the cost of her medical bills. From the initial MRI, outpatient surgery and anesthesia costs, to a wheelchair, follow-up appointments, and bi-weekly physical therapy appointments, she is thankful that she has an insurance plan that will cover these expenses. 

As an international student, it’s important that you have insurance in place to cover you in case the unexpected happens. If you’re someone who participates in sports, you are at a greater risk of getting hurt, so it’s even more important to make sure you have a plan that covers sports-related injuries. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different categories of sports – from organized sports, adventure sports, and recreational sports – and what insurance options are available to cover each situation! 

Organized Sports 

If you play sports through your high school, college, or university, or if the sport involves organized practices, games, or events, it would be considered an organized sport. Interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, and club sports are all considered organized sports. 

Health Insurance Options for Organized Sports 

Some schools may have health insurance coverage in place specifically for athletes that will cover them during practices and games, but this may not always be the case. If you partake in organized sports through your school or are involved in a club sport, you’ll want to make sure to confirm what coverage, if any, will be provided to you. 

Traditional travel insurance plans don’t commonly include coverage for organized sports, but many plans designed specifically for international students will either include this coverage or will allow you to add an optional rider to cover these kinds of sports, normally up to a maximum limit per injury. Below, you’ll see four different plan options that are offered at ISI that either include sports coverage or that allow you to add an optional rider to include coverage for organized sports. 

Student Secure Plan

ISI Protect Plan 

Student Health Advantage Plan 

Patriot Exchange Plan 

Coverage for Interscholastic, Intercollegiate, Intramural, and Club Sports can be added as an Optional Sports RiderIncludes coverage for School Sports Includes coverage for Interscholastic, Intercollegiate, Intramural, and Club Sports Coverage for Interscholastic Athletics, Intramural Sports and Club Sports can be added as an Optional Add-On Rider 
Smart: Not Covered
Budget: $3,000 maximum per injury 
Select and Elite: $5,000 maximum per injury
Economy: Not Covered
Economy Plus, Business Class and First Class: $5,000 per injury 
Standard and Platinum: $5,000 per injuryCovered up to the selected per injury/illness maximum 

It’s important to remember that semi-professional and professional sports, or any activity that is performed in a professional capacity or for any wage, reward, or profit would not be covered by these plans. 

Adventure Sports

Are you an adrenaline junkie who spends your weekends mountain climbing, bungee jumping, or skydiving? If so, you’ll want to make sure that you have a health insurance plan that includes coverage for adventure sports. 

Adventure sports are defined as activities undertaken for the purposes of recreation, an unusual experience, or excitement. These activities are typically undertaken outdoors and involve a medium degree of risk. Activities like bungee jumping, canyoning, zip lining, skydiving, and windsurfing are all considered to be adventure sports.

Health Insurance Options for Adventure Sports 

Generally, health insurance plans will include coverage for recreational sports and activities, but the policy wording will include a list of specific activities, mainly consisting of adventure sports, that won’t be covered by the plan. If you’re someone who likes to partake in adventure sports, you’ll want to make sure your health insurance plan would cover you in case you were to get injured during the activities that you enjoy. 

While some plans will include limited coverage for adventure sports, and others will exclude them all together, there are plan options available that allow you to add an adventure sports rider that will cover certain adventure sports. At ISI, we offer three different plan options that allow you to add a rider to your plan that will cover specific adventure sports. 

Patriot Travel Plan 

Patriot Exchange Plan 

Student Health Advantage Plan 

ISI Protect 

Sports Covered by the Adventure Sports Rider: 
abseiling; BMX; bobsledding; bungee jumping; canyoning; caving; hot air ballooning; jungle zip lining; parachuting; paragliding; parascending; rappelling; skydiving; spelunking; whitewater kayaking or whitewater rafting in water less than Class V difficulty; wildlife safaris; and windsurfing
Sports Covered by the Adventure Sports Rider: 
abseiling, BMX, bob-sledding, bungee jumping, canyoning, caving, hot air ballooning, kitesurfing and kiteboarding, mountaineering below 4,500 meters from ground level, zip lining, parachuting, paragliding, parascending, rappelling, scuba-diving or sub-aqua pursuits to a depth not to exceed 20 meters skydiving, spelunking, whitewater kayaking or whitewater rafting in water less than Class V difficult, wildlife safaris, windsurfing 
Lifetime Maximum
Age 0 to 49: $50,000
Age 50 to 59: $30,000
Age 60 to 64: $15,000
Lifetime Maximum 
Age 15 to 49: $50,000 
Age 50 to 59: $25,000 
Age 60 to 64: $10,000 

Please keep in mind that there are some adventure sports that won’t be covered, even if the adventure sports rider is added, so it’s important to review the plan wording or contact the insurance carrier prior to purchasing the plan to confirm if a specific activity would be covered. 

Recreational, Leisure, and Fitness Sports 

Even if you don’t play a sport for your school, or you’re not into high-risk adventure sports, you’ll still want to make sure you are covered if you like to participate in any recreational, leisure, or fitness sports. These kinds of activities are non-organized, non-contact, non-collision, and are solely for recreational, entertainment or fitness purposes. 

If you like to go for a run to destress, are a member at your local gym or participate in group fitness classes, or if you just like to play tennis with your friends for fun, you will want to have coverage for recreational, leisure, and fitness sports and activities. 

Health Insurance Options for Recreational, Leisure, and Fitness Sports 

The good news is that recreational, leisure, and fitness sports are normally included in the general medical benefits of most international student health insurance plans and travel medical insurance plans. As long as the activity does not involve regularly scheduled practice and/or games, is not considered an intercollegiate, interscholastic, intramural, or club sport, is not performed in a professional capacity or for any wage, reward, or profit, and is not related to any of the sports and activities listed in the general exclusions of the plan wording, recreational, leisure, and fitness sports would be covered the same as any other injury or illness covered by the plan. Most of the plans we offer at ISI include coverage for these activities, and some different options are highlighted below. 

Student Secure Plan

Atlas Travel Plan 

Student Health Advantage Plan 

Patriot Travel Plan 

Coverage for Recreational, Leisure, and Fitness Sports: 
Covered up to the Maximum Limit 

Whether you’re someone who plays for your school’s basketball team, likes to get your blood pumping with adventure sports, or just enjoys staying fit by going to the gym, it’s important to always make sure you are prepared in case the unexpected happens. When considering what health insurance plan is best for you, you will want to make sure you’re covered for whatever activities you participate in, so make sure to review the benefits and exclusions before purchasing a plan. If you have questions on specific activities that may or may not be covered, please contact us for assistance.

The 2021 Travel Video Contest is LIVE

September 23rd, 2021 by Natalie Holland


Every year, our friends at host a contest showcasing international students from around the world. This year marks the 16th annual Travel Video Contest, with a brand new theme: community. Share how “community” has impacted or influenced you and your international education pursuit. We encourage you to be creative and interpret the word “community” however you choose, but some examples might include your family or your community at home, your new community during your international education, or an online community.

In order to be eligible for the 2021 Travel Video Contest, you must be at least 18 years old and either currently studying outside of your home country or planning to study abroad in the future. You must also follow the rules and regulations closely and submit a contest entry form that includes a valid link to your video.

Not only is the Travel Video Contest an excellent opportunity to showcase your video skills on an international level, it’s also an opportunity to win one of four cash prizes.

This year’s prizes are as follows:

  • Grand Prize: $4,000
  • Second Place: $500
  • Third Place: $250
  • Viewers’ Choice Award: $1,000

The deadline for applications is 11:59 PM, EST on Tuesday, 13 October 2021. All you have to do for a chance to win $4,000 is submit your video! What will you do with your winnings? Head over to the official contest page to get the full contest theme and details. We can’t wait to see what you make!

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 13th, 2021 by Yessica Prato

Every year between September 15 and October 15, Hispanic Heritage month is observed in the United States. The Hispanic Heritage month celebrates traditions, cultures, and contributions from Hispanic and Latin American countries. Let’s dive into a bit of a history lesson as to the origins of this month and the importance of the celebration. 

The Origins

In the 1960’s, when the civil rights movement in the US was at its peak, Congress passed a legislation recognizing the Hispanic Heritage week. The dates were chosen as the kickoff coincided with several Independence Day celebrations from many Latin American nations. September 15 marks the Independence Day of countries like Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. This is followed by Mexico’s independence day (September 16) and Chile’s independence day (September 18).

Fast forward to the 80’s, former President Reagan signed into law the extension of the original legislation to a month. The Hispanic Heritage Month would now wrap up with Dia de la Raza (day of the race) or Indigenous People’s day (known in the US as Columbus Day in some states). 

The Significance

As an international student, you know that when traveling to a different country, it’s important to immerse yourself in the culture of said country. That being said, the United States has long been a mix of many cultures and races, sometimes being referred to as a “melting pot” for the richness of diversity that the country offers. Additionally, according to the latest census date, the U.S. Hispanic population has increased almost 23% in the last 10 years and they have played a significant role in the growth of the population over the last decade. 

Latin America is made up of 33 countries and each of them have different customs and traditions that have been brought to the United States over the years. 

How can you be part of the celebration?

Hispanics and Latinos/as/x are well known for our vibrant culture and mouth watering gastronomy. We encourage you to explore the celebrations by grabbing a bite at a Latin American restaurant, visiting a museum, or partaking (responsibly and per CDC guidelines) in the celebrations near you. 

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters Explained

September 13th, 2021 by Eric Bloodworth

The COVID-19 vaccine is a stepping stone which could be an instrumental step in bringing the Coronavirus pandemic to an end. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have come a long way since 2020 in developing a vaccine that can effectively combat COVID-19 in the United States. Recently, Pfizer has been granted full FDA approval for their inoculation instead of Emergency Use Authorization, which has spurred millions more Americans to get vaccinated. Emergency Use Authorization is a special status that the US government can grant to an unproven medication. Typically, receiving full FDA approval takes years and many trials. Full FDA approval means that enough data has been collected about a vaccine or medication, and has been tested thoroughly to make sure it is safe and effective for most people. 

The two most prominent vaccines here in the United States, Pfizer and Moderna, require two shots in order to be fully vaccinated. Once the first shot has been administered, Pfizer requires a 2nd shot after 14 days and Moderna requires a 2nd shot after 28 days to be considered fully vaccinated. Two weeks after the second shot, an individual is considered fully vaccinated with 99% efficacy, meaning that the vaccine will prevent and/or reduce symptoms of COVID-19 for 99% of vaccinated individuals. 

Recent studies have shown that 6 months after the second dose, the efficacy of Pfizer’s vaccine drops to 84%, as the vaccine begins to wear off or is less effective against various strains. This has recently prompted Pfizer to recommend a booster shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fully vaccinated individuals with Pfizer or Moderna should get a booster jab 8 months after the second shot has been administered. Pfizer says that vaccine boosters should be available beginning on September 20th, 2021, and should be fully FDA approved, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Moderna, however, has stated that a booster 6 months after the 2nd shot will significantly increase antibodies. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that Moderna’s booster shot may not be ready at the same time as Pfizer’s booster shot.

At this time, Johnson & Johnson have not stated that a booster shot is necessary, however the FDA and CDC are still collecting data on this. 

No matter which vaccine that you have, the CDC recommends that you socially distance and wear masks indoors in high risk areas. If you are looking to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, please check out the CDC’s

UPDATE: As of September 23rd, 2021, the FDA has only approved booster shots for individuals aged 65 and older and other high risk populations.


Staying Well-Fed while Studying Abroad

August 11th, 2021 by Melissa Madrigal

I was born in Mexico City and I was an international student in the United States for several years. I received my bachelor’s degree at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and it was a time of my life I will never forget. I know firsthand all of the amazing experiences that studying abroad has to offer; meeting new people, getting to know another culture, practicing a language… Every day is a new adventure and a learning experience. But I also know very well that it can have unexpected obstacles, including financial struggles and homesickness. 

Sadly, a very common and growing problem amongst international students is hunger due to food insecurity. Understanding food insecurity can help you and the people you care about identify and combat those negative circumstances. Read on to learn more about what you can do to fight food insecurity and find resources if you or someone you know are facing food insecurity. 

What is food security? 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (World Food Summit, 1996). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggested it is an “economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”

Essentially, food insecurity exists when people do not have access to enough food but also when the food they DO have access to is not varied or healthy enough. This can look like skipping meals because there is not enough money to buy food, or it can be that the only restaurants and stores nearby are lacking fruits and vegetables, it can even be that the places that are affordable and close enough to households are fast food or gas stations. In some cities, people who do not have cars also struggle with food insecurity because food options are too far away for them to access.

How does it affect international/study abroad students?

According to many studies, about half of all college-level students experience food insecurity. This number is even larger among international students. Not having access to enough or the right food can affect students not just physically, in the form of hunger and exhaustion, but it can also affect them mentally. Being hungry can make students have a hard time with concentration, sleep, and even cause anxiety and depression. All of this is added to the normal stress of school, as well as a constant reminder of financial stress and it can contribute to feelings of shame and isolation. This is especially true right now that we are facing a global pandemic.

But please remember that you are not alone. There are many campus resources available to you to help with food, financial aid, and mental health. 

What are some resources for those affected by food insecurity?

Fortunately, there are ways to help combat food insecurity and help students and other individuals have access to the food they need. Many universities have campus pantries, where they provide students with free groceries and other necessities on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Many cities also have community pantries or fridges that allow students and community members to share and take food when it is needed. Lastly, there are food banks and soup kitchens, where you can both donate food and be provided with it. 

Below we have shared a list to help you find these resources near you*:

On-campus Pantries:

Florida International University 
Broward College 
University of South Florida 
University of New Mexico 
University of Chicago 
University of California- Berkeley 
University of Arizona 
University of Maryland 
Michigan State University 
University of Kansas 

Food banks and Soup kitchens:

In the United States –

New Mexico





New York



In Canada – 

In Australia – 

In the United Kingdom – 

In India – 

In Colombia –

In Mexico –

What can I do to help reduce the effects on my community?

If you are fortunate enough to not be affected by food insecurity, you are in a position to help others who are; whether you are an international student or not, you can directly be part of the solution. Here are some ways you can help the efforts to end hunger:

  1. Volunteer at a food pantry, food bank, or soup kitchen.
  2. Donate money or food to food pantries and food banks.
  3. Reach out to restaurants and grocery stores about doing rescue programs for “Ugly food” or any surpluses they can donate.
  4. If your school or community doesn’t have one, start a campus pantry or community fridge. 
  5. Encourage your school to invest in food affordability and access as well as counseling for students experiencing food insecurity and/or situations of homelessness. 
  6. Volunteer at a farm or urban/community garden in your area.
  7. Contact your local and state representatives.
  8. Organize a food drive. 
  9. Support and fight for initiatives such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  10. Volunteer or start grocery delivery programs.
  11. Spread awareness about this topic! The more people know about it, the easier it will be to identify and fight against it.

If you know of any more resources not listed here or you want to share the amazing things you have experienced as an international student, please share them below. We would love to read them!

*Please keep in mind that this is not a definitive list — there are many more resources, but we wanted to provide a starting point.

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