Health & Safety


Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply abroad, Cal Lutheran is happy to advocate for reasonable and appropriate accommodations for any physical disabilities, learning needs, or health measures you may need on your program.

If you have any such needs, start with contacting Disability Support Services (DSS). You will need to register your needs formally in order for Cal Lutheran to work with your program on potential accommodations. Once you do so, you can elect for DSS to inform the Office of Education Abroad of any accommodations you may need for your term away for campus. The Office will then liaise with your host program to identify what facilities or resources they can provide.

Note, of course, that Cal Lutheran cannot guarantee that every program can accommodate your needs. You remain your best advocate and ultimately must bear responsibility for your health and well-being.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Travelers to other countries and states are particularly vulnerable when it concerns violations--intentional or unintentional--of local rules and regulations regarding alcohol and other drugs. Consequently, it is of utmost importance that you exercise caution and prudence with any drugs.

The Cal Lutheran Student Handbook specifies University policy on alcohol and drugs, which applies to all education abroad programs. Providing alcohol to persons under the legal drinking age is illegal and against Cal Lutheran policy.

Any student who uses, buys, or sells illegal drugs will be expelled from their program and immediately returned to the United States at their own expense. Oneviolation will be cause for removal from the program. Separation from the program will result in loss of academic credit. The violator will bear the cost of legal advice, fines, and return travel. Any write-ups or disciplinary issues that you experiene on your program will impact your judicial standing at Cal Lutheran.  Remember you are a representative of the University and California.

If you choose to use alcohol and other drugs legally, do so responsibily:

  1. Abide by the laws of the country or state in which you are living and/or traveling.
  2. Do not miss any required or scheduled event.
  3. Do not disrupt the program's academic environment.
  4. Do not become ill as a result of alcohol consumption.
  5. Do not engage in inappropriate behavior toward other individuals or property.
  6. Do not engage in behavior that causes embarrassment to the other members of the group, the faculty member(s) or the in-country host(s).
  7. Do not facilitate, encourage, or ignore a fellow student who is abusing alcohol.

We encourage the use good judgment if consuming alcohol at private homes or other accommodations during non-program hours. Student groups should discuss issues related to alcohol abuse by other members of their group with the program supervisor or instructor.  If a student becomes incapacitated due to alcohol overuse, or if they need medical attention, group members should contact emergency medical assistance, a faculty member, or a program site supervisor immediately. The individual needing medical attention will not necessarily receive disciplinary sanction in these circumstances but will first be referred for assistance to address issues of chemical use/abuse. The overriding concern always should be the health and safety of all students.


Enjoy the cuisines of the places you visit, but do so responsibly. Countries vary in their safety standards and methods of preparation and storage, so you may experience indigestion while traveling. Avoid certain foods until you have ample evidence from reliable local sources that they are safe for visitors to eat. Many locals have no trouble eating such food or drink because they have developed immunities over time, which is not necessarily the case with you!

Flight Health

When flying and upon your arrival, drink plenty of bottled water and juice to avoid dehydration. If possible, get up and stretch occasionally, and try to sleep as much as possible.  Upon arrival, try to stay awake until the evening and go to bed at a normal time to adjust to the new time zone. Until your system has fully adjusted, you should consider drinking mainly bottled water and beverages and eating mild foods.

Medications and Prescriptions

If you take medications or have any prescriptions, we recommended that you pack enough of that medication for the duration of your program in your carry-on bag (not your checked luggage, in case it is lost in transit). You always should keep medicines in their original, labeled containers, and even consider taking your physician’s script with you abroad.

Because other countries regulate medicines quite differently than the U.S. does, you should obtain professional medical advice before procuring or using any medicines obtained abroad. Consult the country’s medical laws to make sure that certain medicines are not illegal. Not all medicines that are legal in the U.S. are legal elsewhere.

If you have a particular medical condition or allergies, get the proper clearance from your doctor. Obtain a copy of your medical history to take with you and notify your program director of your condition.

Mental Health

Although participating in an program is exciting, it can come with great challenges. Adjusting to a new culture, a different academic environment, and a new system of support services can cause some unexpected and overwhelming reactions.

It is important for you to consider how traveling for a period of time may affect your mental health. Traveling is not a way to escape your current environment: in fact, it may only exacerbate any concerns already may have. You should instead be as prepared as possible for emotional, intellectual, mental, physical, and psychological challenges of your program.

To best prepare for your program, we recommend that you visit Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) if you have any concerns. Please note that, while you are traveling, CAPS may not be able to provide as robust of services as it can while you are on campus, as counselors cannot provide therapy services from a distance. Instead, be sure to consider local mental health resources, including those covered by your insurance policy.


Sexual Health

As in any culture, it’s important that you think carefully and proactively about your host country’s culture with regard to acceptable and safe sexual behavior. What are your host culture’s local norms and cultural patterns of relationships? What are the local dating patterns? If you accept a drink or gift, are you tacitly consenting to sexual activity? If you invite someone into your living space, is it culturally and/or legally acceptable for them to expect intimate contact? Is the legal and/or cultural definition of “consent” different from the definition in the United States?

At a minimum, you must be aware that some behaviors at home that may be culturally and legally acceptable, and seemingly safe, may not be culturally or legally acceptable or safe in the host country and vice versa, particularly for LGBTQIA+ travelers. Certain behaviors will also communicate different messages in the host culture than they do in the United States.

If you are the victim-survivor of sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, or stalking, you have Title IX rights that can help empower and protect you. Please reach out to your host program or local police, if those options feel safe.

Situational Awareness

You are responsible for your personal safety.  Stay safe and vigilant at all times. Use good judgment and common sense. Know the location of the U.S. Embassy, police station, hospital, and other emergency services in your host community.  You can look up most of these locations online before you leave.

Try to blend in as much as possible and downplay elements that indicate you are not (yet) a local.  Observe and mimic the dress and behavior of the locals. Speak the language at their same tone and volume.  Even things such as smiling, eye contact or your stride can mark you as a foreigner.  Do your best to blend in!

Stay alert and look purposeful. If you find yourself uncomfortable in your surroundings, act like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going.  Consider using a security pouch under your clothing to carry important documents and money.  Don’t bring valuables or conspicuous accessories.  Don’t count money in public and keep track of your personal belongings at all times.

Keep yourself informed about current political situations.  In general, keep away from political demonstrations, and if you see a situation developing, walk the other way.

STEP Program

If you are a U.S. citizen, we strongly recommend that you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service of the U.S. Department of State. You can receive important information from your local U.S. Embassy abroad about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans. STEP also allows the U.S. Embassy to help contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

Travel Advisories

The U.S. Department of State issues Travel Advisories for all countries in the world, based on a tiered system of safety. Before you travel to a new location, we strongly recommend that you review its Travel Advisory for the latest details and advice.

Travel Medicine Services

Contact your personal medical professional or physician for personalized recommendations, medications and vaccinations based upon both your destination and your travel itinerary. Pre-travel education and immunization are essential to avoid unnecessary risks from preventable diseases that may be unfamiliar to you.