Getting sick abroad is not a guarantee. I had managed to come out of my first semester unscathed, and I was in a huge city. This semester, I am studying in a city that is six to seven times smaller than Madrid and I have gotten sick twice already. It could have been the change in weather or my lack of a winter jacket the one day I thought it was warm outside but actually was not. Either way, I ended up being sick somehow.
Although McDonald’s and Subway has made it internationally, Rite Aid and CVS have not. I cannot find a typical drug store that I would easily find in the U.S. However, there are these giant green crosses that I see frequently and they are the number one identifier of a pharmacy. I have only been to the pharmacy a couple of times to buy motion sickness medication and throat lozenges. However, I can tell you that the people who work there know what they are doing. If you describe your symptoms to them, they will most likely be able to tell you what medication you need.
The medications in these pharmacies aren’t the same as the ones in the States, but they do have their international equivalents. Of course you will not be able to find everything without a doctor’s referral but there are plenty of medications you can buy without one. Getting sick abroad is terrible, not only because you are sick, but also because you are sick far away from home. If you take a daily medication and you are planning on going abroad for a few months, whether it is for a summer or a semester, I would highly recommend bringing enough so you do not run out while you are there.