Chapter 3: Drugs & Alcohol
PLNU Study Abroad, Policy on Alcohol
We in the Study Abroad Office understand that students studying abroad all over the world will encounter a wide variety of people, environments, and choices that may be different than those you encounter on the PLNU campus. One of the unfortunate realities of study abroad is that some U.S. students utilize the experience as an excuse to drink excessively and engage in an extended “Spring Break” type of semester. This, of course, is not only discouraged by PLNU, but is a terribly limiting way to spend your semester. There is so much to experience while abroad, places to see, and people to meet. Some students focus so much on taking advantage of the loosened accountability of being abroad that they lose sight of their own value systems and the opportunity they have to develop their own, positive lifestyle choices through this independent experience. It is a common misconception that “cultural” drinking is synonymous with excessive drinking. While it is legal in many societies throughout the world for young people to drink, it may even be less common in some places than underage drinking in the U.S. Furthermore, some societies deal with a much higher prevalence of alcoholism and other drinking-related problems as a result of drinking patterns that develop early.
During the time you study abroad you will remain a full time registered student at PLNU. As such, all current PLNU policies with regard to the consumption of alcohol remain in effect during study abroad. In addition, please note that drinking heavily may leave you vulnerable to street crime and will make it difficult for you to be accepted by your host culture. Please also note that drunk driving, besides the obvious dangers, carries heavy penalties abroad.
More than you know right now, before you depart, this experience is going to be a time for you to develop as an individual. Your beliefs, your goals, your values, and your choices will all be challenged and you will grow through those challenges. Be conscious and mature as you take advantage of that growth. Also, be ethical about the commitments you have made to your PLNU community through the Community Living Covenant.
PLNU Study Abroad, Drug Policy
The Study Abroad Office in accordance with PLNU policy, strictly prohibits the use of any illegal drugs while on campus or abroad. The use of any illegal substance while abroad will result in immediate removal from your study abroad program, return to the U.S., and strict disciplinary action.
Despite repeated warnings, drug arrests and convictions of U.S. citizens abroad continue to increase. Many people have the impression that drug laws and their enforcement in foreign countries are more lenient than in the United States. However, this is simply not true. The penalties for both illegal drug use and trafficking are very real and very severe, in many cases tougher than here in the U.S.
Remember, you are subject to local laws and not U.S. laws. If you should be arrested, contact the U.S. consulate at once. Be aware that U.S. officials can only visit, advise, and contact family and friends for you, and they cannot intercede in the legal process, represent you at trial, or pay legal fees. It just makes good sense to stay away from drugs. A drug arrest can not only ruin your time abroad – it can ruin your life.