Under-Represented Education Abroad Students
LGBTQ+ students will find some countries more accepting than others, but all countries will have some internal variation. LGBTQ+ students should research attitudes toward LGBTQ+ persons in the host culture, as well as laws regarding LGBTQ+ identification in the host country.
Countries may have LGBTQ+ support groups in cities and on university campuses in addition to local LGBTQ+ communities. In some countries, LGBTQ+ communities may be largely underground while other countries may have vibrant and visual LGBTQ+ communities.
Attitudes of a host culture can also vary between gay men and lesbian women and between bisexual and transgender individuals. Again, advanced 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 may need to 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 Military and Veteran Services as soon as possible. They can help answer questions you may have about utilizing your GI Bill benefits for study abroad. Benefits may vary depending on your VA Chapter. Utilizing your benefits for study abroad may have restrictions and special processes, so start the process early.
Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website for more information.
Below are some 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:
- Diversity Abroad
- Amnesty International: Discrimination
- All Abroad: What About Discrimination for Black and African American Students
- All Abroad: What About Discrimination for Asian American and Pacific Islander Students
- All Abroad: What About Discrimination for Hispanic and Latinx Americans
- All Abroad: Discrimination for Native American Students
Education Abroad in 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 and 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 experience.
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. Education Abroad 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. Please note that unlike in the US, you may need to pay for part of the costs of accommodations while abroad. Since this is a complex issue, we highly recommend including the cost of any arranged accommodation early on in the discussion.
Make a short list of the places you would like to study, regardless of accessibility or disability concerns.
Meet with an Education Abroad advisor in IPO to discuss programs of interest and 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.
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.
Before committing to a program, students should research accessible housing options.
Make accessible housing a key part of the discussion you have with your Education Abroad advisor before you make your final decision on your program of choice. Education Abroad staff will coordinate with universities and programs abroad to assist students with disabilities in obtaining appropriate housing abroad.
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 those that cannot be procured abroad 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 and speak with your physicians about how you will manage medications while abroad.
If your host university has a disability service office, be sure to research the types of support they can provide.
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.
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
Some country-specific resources: