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Parents and Family

We at the Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) are excited to have this opportunity to assist your son or daughter in preparing for an overseas journey. In order to ensure that students are confident and well prepared for their new cultural and academic setting, BOSP provides all participants with a thorough orientation program in the quarter prior to their study abroad. Below, we have outlined some of the items we cover with all students, as well as some words of advice for you.

BOSP Preparing Your Student for Studying Abroad

Once a student has been admitted to a Stanford overseas program, he or she will start receiving regular correspondence from our office. The quarter prior to departure, all BOSP participants are required to participate in a series of orientation sessions led by BOSP staff, faculty-in-residence, and Student Advisors. (Please note: Parents are not permitted to stand in for the student at these events). BOSP Student Advisors are formally trained alumni of each BOSP program. They are an excellent resource for students, provide helpful cultural insights, and make themselves available throughout the orientation process.

Stanford University believes that students are ultimately responsible for preparing themselves to study abroad and for making the most of their time overseas. This encompasses a wide range of responsibilities from personal safety, attendance at orientation and timely completion of required materials, to being a responsible ambassador of Stanford and the United States or their home country.

BOSP assists in guiding students through this process and your support throughout this process is invaluable. However, please keep in mind that due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), BOSP staff is prohibited from discussing individual student issues directly with parents. If you have any questions or concerns, please be in contact directly with your son or daughter first, who should then be in touch with our office. Please help us to help you and your student by encouraging your son or daughter to communicate directly with our staff regarding any questions or concerns you might have.

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Pointers for Parents and Family

It is helpful to sit down and talk over certain items before your son or daughter departs. Some items to discuss include:


  • Know the time difference between the US and your student’s destination. What is the long distance country code? Arrange how you will communicate and how frequently (phone, email).
  • Please keep in mind that if you haven’t heard from your student, he or she may be on a program-related excursion or arranging his or her own travels.
  • Encourage your student to maintain regular contact with Stanford regarding academics and administrative issues, and also refer him or her to the BOSP orientation folder for administrative questions.

Essential Documents:

  • Keep a copy of your student’s airline itinerary, passport, visa (if applicable), ISIC card, and credit cards.

Health and Safety:

  • If your son or daughter receives coverage through your health insurance provider or Cardinal Care (Stanford’s student health insurance plan), ensure that you are fully informed about what is and is not covered overseas.
  • All students participating in BOSP programs must purchase medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverages from an established insurance provider.  Inform yourself of that provider and appropriate procedures.


  • Have an arrangement for sending money in case of an emergency.
  • Familiarize yourself with the exchange rate and cost differential of the country in which your son or daughter will be living.
  • Talk with your son or daughter about establishing a power-of-attorney or other legal agreement in order to take care of financial arrangements at home while the student is abroad.


  • Familiarize yourself with your student’s host country and cross-cultural resources so you can support him or her with the transition to life abroad.

While we encourage you to be in contact with your son or daughter, please be aware that living abroad has its ups and downs. Your student will be transitioning through a range of emotions after leaving home that are similar to those s/he experienced when arriving at Stanford as a new student. It is important for parents to understand what their son or daughter is going through and to be patient and supportive as he or she adjusts to the new culture. Adjustment is not accomplished in just a few days; it is an on-going process, which responds to one situation, followed by then another. It is exactly these challenges that constitute a rewarding and memorable study abroad experience.

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Final Thoughts

BOSP hopes that your son or daughter will experience an incredible journey, rich in academic and personal discoveries. We take great pride in the programs we operate and are happy to have a list of over 22,000 BOSP alumni (and counting), many of whom have reported that their time abroad with BOSP was one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences they had while attending Stanford.

Bing Overseas Studies Program Staff

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the best time to visit my son or daughter?

We encourage you to travel to your student’s host country during official university breaks, or after they have completed their program. We ask that you try to avoid visiting at times when students need to be in class. Parents are not allowed to participate in any student-related activities provided by the Stanford program.

Q. If my son or daughter is being treated for a medical issue in the US, will they be able to continue treatment abroad?

In order to ensure that medical support is available abroad, it is very important that your student disclose any health issues in his or her online orientation forms. This includes, but is not limited to, medical conditions, psychological issues, learning disabilities, and eating disorders. Disclosure of such information will not affect your child’s overseas study participation.

Prescriptions written in the United States cannot be filled abroad, so we recommend that students bring enough prescription medication to last the entire stay overseas and discuss this in advance with their doctor and insurance provider. Ask doctors for any prescriptions (eyeglasses, allergy medicines, etc.).

Prescription medications should be carried in their original, labeled bottle with the generic name of the drug. Students should have the prescription on hand in case a customs officer requests it. Check that you may bring the prescription drug(s) into the country at or at the host country’s consulate or embassy web page. Do not send prescriptions through the mail.

We also recommend that students take an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Students with medical problems which are not easily recognized (e.g., diabetes, allergic reactions to antibiotics or bee stings, heart conditions, epilepsy) might consider obtaining a medic alert identification tag from a doctor or pharmacy as these are internationally recognized.

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Q. Are immunizations required?

Students are informed about health issues specific to the country in which their program is located during their orientation on the Stanford campus. They are also encouraged to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for immunization requirements for each country. Immunizations may be obtained on-campus at the Vaden Health Center. Many inoculations can be obtained abroad if needed. Students are asked to make sure that the following vaccines are current before going abroad: measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, and polio.

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Q. What can students do to ensure their security while abroad?

The best advice for any traveler is to use common sense. There are dangers associated with any large city around the world. For instance, students should be wise about where they keep their valuables. They should always be in groups when they travel at night, and they should not venture out alone with a stranger or someone they have just met. Additionally, students should be aware that in many countries they might be identified as American simply because of their clothing, speech, and mannerisms. Students should make an effort to understand how the local culture views Americans and behave accordingly in order to be safe.

Here are some more tips about how students can be safe while studying abroad:

  • Students should leave travel itineraries and copies of important documents with family, friends, and/or the BOSP office in their host country.
  • Students should try not to hang out with large groups of Americans that could draw unwanted attention.
  • Students should also avoid demonstrations (even peaceful) and other large groups of people in public.
  • Students should report suspicious activity to the police, the US embassy or consulate, and/or the onsite overseas staff.
  • Students should avoid meeting strangers in unknown locations.
  • Students should use the language of the host country at all times and attempt to immerse themselves in the culture.
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Q. What does BOSP do to address issues of safety and security?

Stanford University and the Bing Overseas Studies Program have established emergency protocols and all students at Stanford study abroad locations are covered under the provisions of these protocols. The home campus BOSP office works cooperatively with our onsite BOSP staff to help ensure the safety and security of students overseas; however, our ability to influence emergency responses depends on the level of support available through specific programs at sites abroad. In order to prepare students for their overseas program, Stanford University includes health and safety information in our mandatory orientation sessions.

All students must arrive at their program location by the designated arrival date in order to attend an extensive onsite orientation, unique to each program. If you have any questions concerning Stanford’s emergency response plans, please feel free to contact Irene Kennedy, Executive Director, Bing Overseas Studies Program, Stanford University.

You can be comforted by the fact that there is a compassionate and involved local staff available if your son or daughter becomes ill or encounters a serious emergency. The BOSP staff is readily accessible to your son or daughter at all times and has many years of experience dealing with student concerns overseas. If your student contacts you with a concern, please encourage him or her to keep the local BOSP staff informed since they are best equipped to handle any situation.

(Again, according to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the BOSP staff on-campus and abroad are not permitted to discuss issues pertaining to an individual student with parents, family, or other third parties. The student must conduct all contact directly).

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