Under-Represented Study Abroad Students
LGBTQ students will find some countries more accepting and others less accepting than the U.S., but all countries will have some internal variation. LGBTQ study abroad students should research attitudes toward LGBTQ persons in a host culture as well as laws regarding homosexuality in the host country.
Countries may have LGBTQ support groups in cities and on university campuses, in addition to large, or not so large, LGBTQ communities. In some counties, LGBTQ communities may be largely underground, while in others LGBTQ communities may be a vibrant and visual part of the host society and culture.
Attitudes of a host culture can also vary between gay men and lesbian women and between bisexual and transgender individuals. Again, advance research is important to fully understand LGBTQ community and attitude dynamics of a country, region, and culture. It will ultimately be a personal decision whether or not to disclose your identity in a host culture, country, and/or university.
If you are taking hormone therapies, these may not be readily available or accessible in a host country and should be brought from the U.S. Research the regulations for bringing medications into a country, as well as mailing medications, well in advance of traveling.
Here are a few resources for your research*:
Are you a member of ROTC or a Veteran planning to study abroad?
We encourage you to discuss your plans with the Office of Veterans Assistance located in the Idaho Commons, Room 305. They can help answer questions you may have about your benefits and studying abroad. Depending on your VA Chapter, benefits may vary.
IPO has sent several veterans on study abroad in the past few years who have taken advantage of the GI Bill benefits.
Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website for more information.
Below are informational resources* for students from various racial and ethnic backgrounds who are interested in learning how diversity is perceived in other countries and how they can better prepare themselves for their time abroad.
- DiversityAbroad: Racial & Ethnic Minority Students Abroad
- Amnesty International: Discrimination
- All Abroad: What About Discrimination, For Black/African Americans
- All Abroad: What About Discrimination, For Asian/Pacific Islander Americans
- All Abroad: What About Discrimination, For Latin@/Hispanic Americans
- All Abroad: Discrimination, For Native Americans
The International Programs Office (IPO) strives to provide equal opportunity to all students who wish to study abroad. All study abroad experiences require a degree of flexibility on the part of the student. Students with disabilities may need to redefine or alter some aspects of their independence when studying abroad. For example, in some countries, disability management may be culturally based (e.g. relying on personal or familial connections) rather than the U.S.-based procedural model for accommodation. Accessibility and levels of accommodation will vary by country, university, and program. Researching accessibility and planning for accommodation are key to a successful study abroad.
Laws regarding disability and disability services vary by country; accessibility with regards to public facilities also vary by country. A university abroad may or may not be adequately equipped to service students with disabilities. For example, universities with less funding, such as those in developing countries, are often less accessible than universities with more funding, such as those in wealthier countries.
Management of accessibility and accommodation issues will vary by disability, accommodations needed, university, and country. The IPO will assist any student in negotiating accommodations with universities, residences, and transportation. Whether you require wheelchair access, sign-language translation, or extra time on examinations, developing a plan is key to a smooth transition abroad.
- Make a short list of the places you would like to study, regardless of accessibility or disability concerns (Program Search).
- Meet with an advisor in the IPO to discuss the likelihood of accommodation in programs on your list.
- Meet with Disability Support Services to discuss your study abroad plans.
- Select a program and apply.
- Plan departure, arrival, and study in the host country.
- Prepare yourself to alter the means of managing your disability and define a support network.
It will be up to the individual student whether or not to disclose a non-apparent disability and to decide if doing so is appropriate or necessary before, during, and after studying abroad. It will be necessary to release any disability if a student wants or needs assistance in planning for accommodation; all programs will need time to plan for adequate accommodation. It is absolutely necessary that prospective study abroad students disclose disabilities early to allow for adequate accommodation planning with a host institution.
Planning for Disability Accommodation Abroad
- U.S. airlines are required to accommodate persons with disabilities. Check with the Department of Transportation for specifics regarding disability accommodation.
- Foreign airlines may not accommodate all disabilities. Before you book a foreign air itinerary, check with the carrier to ensure that they provide disability accommodation.
- For long-haul flights on both U.S. and foreign carriers, check to ensure that accessible airplane bathrooms are available before booking a flight.
- Local transportation may be difficult to plan in advance. Some programs offer a shuttle service from the airport to your temporary accommodation and may be able to help plan local transport for persons with disabilities. The OIE may be able to help with translation if language is a barrier to planning local transportation prior to departure.
- The OIE, universities and programs abroad may be able to assist students with disabilities in obtaining appropriate housing abroad.
- Students should research accessible housing options even before finally deciding on a study abroad program.
- Be sure to discuss housing with the OIE when selecting your program. The OIE may be able to help with translation prior to departure if language is a barrier to planning housing in a host country.
Supplies, Medication, and Assistance
- If you need a person to assist you while traveling, or during the duration of your stay abroad, plan for this well in advance.
- Some disability-related supplies may not be readily available abroad. Research what supplies are available, and, if need be, bring them with you from the U.S. Some items may need to be shipped. Research the regulations for bringing medications into a country well in advance of traveling.
- If your host university has a disability service office, be sure to research the types of support they can provide.
Classroom Related Accommodation
- Many universities abroad are able to provide classroom accommodation to persons with disabilities, such as extra time on tests, note-taking assistance, etc.
- If you require classroom assistance technologies/assistive devices, check well in advance if these can be provided by the university abroad. Such devices may need to be brought from home or the U.S.
Resources for Students with Disabilities*
- Tourism Worldwide Directory - Provides links to tourism bureaus throughout the world. Bureaus can be contacted for accessibility and accommodation standards, as well as to determine when accommodations can be provided upon request.
- Mobility International USA - A website with resources for students with disabilities in study abroad.
- Local Disability Organizations - A local organization can be a great source of support and information for prospective and current study abroad students with disabilities.
- Survival Strategies for Going Abroad: A Guide for People with Disabilities – Scroll down for free PDF
- Rights and Responsibilities: A Guide to National and International Disability Related Laws For International Exchange Organizations and Participants (Free PDF)
- Making It Happen: Study Abroad for Students with Disabilities (Video by the University of Pittsburgh)
In many parts of the world, roles and expectations of women are quite different than what we are accustomed to in the U.S. In order to best inform a study abroad location decision, women students should research attitudes toward women and gender roles and expectations of women in a prospective host culture. It will be important to strike a balance between preserving identity and respecting a host culture.
In some areas, it may be unsafe to travel alone after dark, or inappropriate to show certain parts of the body in public. Some women travelers may experience sexual harassment, generally verbal, while abroad, and being a woman traveler may be enough to spur inappropriate sexual comments or gestures. Steps can be taken; however, to reduce the likelihood of sexual harassment, such as traveling in groups, wearing a wedding band, or dressing in a mundane manner. Be aware up front of possible sources of prejudice toward women in a host culture, and have a support network available such as other women student travelers or email communication with friends and family back home. Most women have little or no problems with discrimination and harassment while studying abroad.
Contraceptives may either be more readily available or not as readily available in a host country. Check the accessibility of contraceptives in a host country, and, if necessary, bring a supply from the U.S. Research the regulations for bringing medications into a country well in advance of traveling.
Here are some resources for your research*: