Health and Safety

St. Lawrence University strongly supports study abroad as an excellent way in which students can prepare for living and working in a complex and interconnected world. For over fifty years, the University has maintained its own programs abroad and has partnered with carefully selected programs in which our students may participate.

CIIS has primary oversight for off -campus study and is responsible for selecting well-qualified students, providing orientation and helpful information about health, safety, insurance and other risk concerns, and following the best practices in each program for the health, welfare, and safety of students. In addition, St. Lawrence University programs are led by St. Lawrence University faculty and are assisted by at least one local staff member whose responsibilities include the health and safety of their students. 

St. Lawrence University withholds the right to adjust or cancel program components in response to the current health and safety conditions on-site and in the best interests of students, faculty, and on-site staff. University-sponsored student travel may be restricted based on the security of the study site. In all cases, students have the responsibility to understand the general risks of travel as well as risks specific to their host countries/regions, and to follow safe travel practices. 

General Guidance for Health and Wellbeing

We remind students that participation in any off-campus program will represent a change to their day-to-day lives and, consequently, their routines for maintaining their health and wellbeing. However, careful planning prior to departure can help minimize or eliminate the impacts or disruptions to the student’s health and wellbeing after their arrival.

  • In preparation for participation in any off-campus study program, CIIS recommends that students visit their physician and dentist for a check-up prior to departure.
  • Students who manage a chronic or on-going health concern, such as anxiety, depression, disordered eating, strict dietary needs/allergies, or any condition which could be exacerbated by great distance from home and immersion in a different culture, should plan to discuss their specific needs with their physician, counselor, and/or therapist and develop a plan for how to manage best it in this new situation.  Staff in CIIS are happy to be a partner in such discussions. Note that some physicians may not be fully aware of the conditions on a particular study abroad program; for this reason, it is important students collaborate closely with CIIS and their on-site program staff to develop this plan for continuing their care while abroad.
  • Students who use prescription medications to maintain their health and wellbeing should speak with their prescribing physician (and potentially their healthcare insurance provider), as early as possible prior to departure. In many cases, students can secure prescription medications to last the duration of the program rather than fulfill prescriptions while abroad. However, not all medications prescribed in the US are available abroad (for example, some ADHD medications), and there are restrictions on mailing medications to many countries.  In this case, students can work with the physician and on-site program staff to make alternative plans. Students should not plan to cease medication or alter their dosage while off-campus (except at the recommendation of their physician). When traveling with prescription medication, all medications should be packed in the carry-on in its original container. Students should also carry a copy of all prescriptions including the Latin compound of the medication.  US prescriptions may not necessarily be filled abroad, but the prescription will allow a physician or pharmacist in the host country to know what has been prescribed in the past. 
  • Students who wear glasses or contacts should obtain a second pair of glasses and/or enough contact lenses to last for the entire semester.
  • Students should check with their on-site program staff as well as the Centers for Disease Control regarding required and recommended immunizations for their host country as well as any country they will travel to as part of their program. A Medical Orientation session will be conducted by staff from the University Health Center for students participating in a program that requires immunizations/vaccinations. 

For further information on Travel Health, please consult the guidance from the Health Center and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler’s Health site. We also encourage students to review our Identity Resource Guide for a list of questions related to race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, religion, and health/ability that are helpful to consider before departing for off-campus study. 

The Responsibilities of Students, Emergency Contacts, and St. Lawrence University

While St. Lawrence University is vigilant about its off-campus programs, it cannot eliminate all risks or guarantee the safety of each participant.  Safety depends on a partnership between the program, St. Lawrence University, participating students, and their families.

Student Responsibilities:

  • Thoroughly read and evaluate all materials issued by CIIS and your host institution that pertain to safety, health, legal, political, and cultural conditions in the host country.
  • Prepare by consulting a wide variety of sources, including the US Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for the country/ies you plan to visit, to develop an independent assessment of the risks involved in off-campus study.
  • Register your trip with the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) or your home country’s equivalent of this system.
  • Carefully consider your physical and mental health. Discuss needs, in the context of your study abroad program, with your physician or counselor. Disclose all health concerns, both physical and psychological, on the Medical Report and to on-site staff, making certain to provide timely updates when necessary.
  • Maintain adequate worldwide health, accident, and hospitalization insurance.
  • Consult SLU Health Services or a reputable travel clinic and obtain all necessary immunizations and medications specific to your program site.
  • Attend all orientation sessions. Take responsibility for preparing yourself for all facets of the program.
  • Inform the Program Director, your host family, your family/ friends of all health concerns and travel plans and provide itineraries and emergency contact information.
  • Abide by the laws of the host country and all applicable policies, procedures and requirement of St. Lawrence and other institutions involved in the program, including without limitation the St. Lawrence Student Code of Responsibility, and CIIS safety precautions and other instructions.
  • Be aware of local conditions and customs that may present health or safety risks. Promptly express any health or safety concerns to the appropriate program staff.
  • Avoid illegal drugs and irresponsible consumption of alcohol, keeping in mind that laws regarding the possession and consumption of substances may vary dramatically between countries.
  • Do not operate motor vehicles while abroad due to varying laws regarding traffic and licensure.
  • Become familiar with the procedures for obtaining emergency health and legal system services in the host country.

Parent, Guardian, and Emergency Contact Responsibilities

  • Be informed and involved in the decision of your student to enroll in a particular program.
  • Obtain and carefully evaluate program materials, as well as related health, safety and security information from the program sponsor.
  • Discuss any travel plans or activities independent of the program with your student.
  • Discuss safety and behavior issues, insurance needs, and emergency procedures related to living abroad with your student.
  • Respond to requests from the program sponsor for information regarding your student.
  • Keep in touch with your student and remain informed of their whereabouts. Be aware that the student, rather than the program provider, may be the most appropriate source of some information.

University Responsibilities

  • Conduct periodic assessments of health and safety conditions and maintain emergency preparedness and crisis response plans.
  • Consider health, safety and disciplinary issues in evaluating the appropriateness of an individual’s participation in a particular study abroad program.
  • Provide health and safety information to participants and their emergency contacts through pre-departure and on-site orientations and handbooks; and encourage them to inform themselves further.
  • Stay abreast of health, safety and security issues at program sites.
  • Inform all participants of applicable policies, regulations, and codes of conduct.
  • Require participants to maintain worldwide insurance coverage including evacuation and repatriation.
  • Hire staff and vendors to provide reputable services in the host country.
  • Collect information on medical and professional services at program sites and share as necessary with participants and their emergency contacts.
  • Provide health and safety training for St. Lawrence Program Directors including guidelines with respect to intervention and referral that take into account the nature and location of the off-campus program.
  • Respond to expressions of health, safety and/or security concerns.
  • In cases of serious health problems, injury, or other significant safety concerns, maintain good communication among all program sponsors and others as needed.