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Health Planning and Risks

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Students on international programs should be aware that attitudes toward medical conditions, disabilities, and psychological conditions vary by culture and all legislation is dictated by the host country. These differences impact the level of treatment and accommodation available abroad. Students should give serious consideration to their health and personal circumstances when accepting a place in a program.

Important Considerations

  • Because Stanford wants you to enjoy a successful and rewarding study abroad experience, we encourage you to disclose your medical conditions and or accommodation requests at the time of acceptance and no later than four weeks prior to the beginning of the program abroad.
  • The information you provide is considered confidential and will be shared only with those individuals who will need to know.
  • Stanford will work to assure reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities (e.g. physical, learning, psychiatric, visual or hearing conditions). If you presently require such arrangements, please let us know so that we can work towards making suitable arrangements while you are abroad.
  • If you choose not to request an accommodation, Stanford will not be able to provide you with arrangements after the start of the program.
  • Students with medical conditions should consult with their families and personal physicians for ways to manage their conditions while overseas.

General Travel Health and the Vaden Health Center


Make an appointment early in your orientation quarter with the on-campus Vaden Health Center Travel Clinic at (650) 498-2336 ext. 1 or your personal clinician to discuss any health concerns you may have before going abroad. Plan to do this early, because you may choose to have immunizations that need to be administered several weeks before you leave in order to be effective. Depending on the vaccinations administered, costs for Cardinal Care students range from $0-$260. If you are not covered under Cardinal Care and wish to have a vaccination done at the Vaden Health Center, add on approximately $30 for each scheduled vaccination cost. You should ask for the “International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis” (yellow card) from your travel health provider. Keep this with your passport while overseas to show what vaccinations you have had and leave a copy with your family at home.

If you are traveling from your BOSP destination to another international location be aware of local health conditions abroad. You should be especially aware of any public health service recommendations or advisories. For current health conditions and recommended vaccinations contact the country desk at the State Department (202.647.4000), or the Centers for Disease Control. Some countries may require an AIDS test before letting you enter. Please check into this before you arrive at the airport because they will turn you away.

It is your responsibility to obtain the proper vaccinations.

Physical and Psychological Considerations

Studying abroad can be stressful. Physical or psychological disorders under control at home can become serious under the additional stresses of adjusting to a new culture. If you have a physical or psychological issue that requires ongoing treatment or surveillance by a clinician, you should consult with your physician about the prospect of studying abroad and the consequences of cultural adjustment and different medical practices.If you are concerned about these issues, you are encouraged to speak with Stanford support staff within your residential neighborhood.

If you have had psychological difficulties currently or in the past, talk with someone at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Vaden Health Center before deciding to study abroad. Consultation with CAPS is confidential, unless you specifically ask that Overseas Studies be alerted. You can reach CAPS 24-­‐ hours a day at (650) 723-­‐3785. Finally, please notify the on-­‐site program director or staff of any illness/medical condition so that they are informed and can help you in case of an emergency.

Thinking About Alcohol and Drugs Abroad


As soon as you leave the United States you are subject to the laws of the country you are traveling to. Alcohol and other drug laws will vary depending on where you study abroad. Some countries are stricter than others when it comes to public intoxication and drug use. The best resources for finding out local laws and policies will be your local program staff, the American Embassy/Consulate in your host country, and the US Department of State website.

As you know, even though you’re not on the farm, you’re still expected to uphold the Fundamental Standard, the Honor Code and the Student Alcohol Policy at all times while you are away. As Stanford students, you are always representing Stanford University no matter where you go.

Top things to consider when drinking alcohol abroad:

  • Consider how laws regarding alcohol and other drug use vary by country and are often times more severe than in the US.
  • Alcohol concentrations might be stronger in some countries. For example, one beer made in Belgium might have a stronger effect on you than the same brand of beer made in the US.
  • Keep in mind that students are representing Stanford University while abroad and the purpose of this experience is to provide students with a rich learning environment.

Whether you choose to drink or not, it is important that you stay safe and look out for one another. At Stanford we have a culture of taking care of one another. It is important to continue that culture at each of our abroad programs. Be sure to stick together and don’t be afraid to say something to your friend or the local program staff if your friend is engaging in harmful behavior.


  • Fill all your prescriptions before you leave and make sure you bring a sufficient supply to last during your time overseas, along with a clinician’s note or the original prescription to avoid problems with customs.
  • Discuss this in advance with your clinician and insurance provider before you go.
  • You cannot have prescription medications mailed to you overseas.
  • Be sure to take a copy of the full prescription drug name with you in your hand luggage in case your medication is lost, stolen, or expires.
  • See the website of the embassy for your program location for common prescriptions that are banned from your program location. Contact the Vaden Travel Clinic for further information.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Lack of adequate protection in situations where you could contract a sexually transmitted disease can lead to serious complications. If you think that you may have contracted an STD, see a clinician recommended by your program. Do not put this visit off because you are unsure or because you are embarrassed; the clinician has treated such problems before.


If you intend to be sexually active overseas, please bring your own supply of contraceptives. Condoms, diaphragms, and other contraceptive devices may be difficult to obtain overseas. Most experts recommend longer acting and more effective forms of contraception including intra-uterine devices and implants. Condoms are essential for sexually transmitted infection protection. The program staff and/or local clinician can assist you in finding appropriate information. Any discussion with the staff will be confidential.

Medic Alert

If you have specific allergies which are debilitating or life-threatening, or have a medical condition that is not immediately apparent or easily identifiable (such as diabetes, allergies to drugs, epilepsy, etc.), wear a Medic Alert bracelet obtained from the Medic Alert Foundation, 2323 Colorado Ave., Turlock, CA 95382-2018; (800) 432-5378. If you require epinephrine auto-injectors, make sure you have at least 2 on hand. Notify the director of your program, the office administrator, and friends traveling with you.

Helpful Links

Students Abroad: Health