All students who study abroad face the challenges of assimilating into a new culture. Anxiety can come from the simplest of interactions as students discover the cultural norms and the subsequent appropriate behavior and responses. A further layer of complexity often confronts the LGBTQ student who is not only dealing with the new culture but then must unravel the local attitudes toward their sexual identity. Local laws and attitudes can heavily influence the abroad experience for the LGBTQ student. Knowledge of local mindsets affords students a level of security and allows them to make personal decisions about the disclosure of their sexual preference. Contact with local support networks and LGBTQ communities allow students an easy transition and provide a base to explore their sexual identity in the host culture.
The Education Abroad Network has a strong commitment to providing the best possible abroad experience for all students. A special resource kit for LGBTQ students is available at orientation. Our Resident Directors have in-depth knowledge of the local LGBTQ communities and can provide information (discreetly if required) to students on request.
Our LGBTQ Resource Kit Includes:
- LGBTQ community group contact information
- LGBTQ support network contact information
- Information on ocal laws, customs and regulations with respect to LGBTQ persons
- University campus LGBTQ group contacts
- Maps of LGBTQ-friendly areas/districts in host cities
- LGBTQ entertainment venues
- Local LGBTQ media and publications
- List of major LGBTQ calendar events in the host city
For more information on TEAN – LGBTQ programming and student services, please contact our office at 1-800-585-9658.
Additionally, please visit the NAFSA Rainbow Special Interest Group website for further resources.
Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities often say that their time abroad was the most exciting time in college. Time abroad challenges everyone in new and various ways and, through this experience, you will learn more about yourself and your capabilities.
It is important to keep in mind that some host countries have no legislation akin to the Americans with Disabilities Act that mandates the accessibility of governmental buildings, public transportation, sidewalks, academic institutions and lodging for individuals with disabilities. As such, you will want to be proactive with regards to finding the right program.
Here are a couple of things to consider as you are considering which program is right for you:
- What are the physical environments like in your host country?
- What are the cultural perceptions and behaviors toward people with disabilities in your host country?
- What are the main forms of learning in your host country (lectures, independent research, readings, etc.)? How are the assignments different?
- How accessible is campus?
- What are the housing options?
- Do you need to do your own cooking? Laundry?
- Is transportation available and accessible?
Tips for Students with Disabilities Going Abroad:
- Disclose your needs to your TEAN program manager – This way, we can make reasonable arrangements and accommodations on your behalf.
- Be flexible – This is true for all study abroad students. Keep in mind that other cultures may provide access in different ways. We recommend you learn about what types of accommodation are typically provided in your host country, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodating your disability.
- Learn as much as you can about your host culture and how disability is viewed – Do some research online, talk with other students, and attend all pre-departure sessions to learn how disabilities are viewed in your host culture. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the interaction between your disability and the new environment.
- Be prepared to be asked questions about your disability – If you are going to a non-English speaking destination, look up key vocabulary ahead of time and think about your responses in advance.
- Keep in mind financial considerations – We will make every effort ensure that students with disabilities have access to all TEAN services, including academic support, TEAN housing, orientation programs, and cultural activities and excursions. In some situations, additional expenses may be incurred and passed along to the student.
- Visit the Mobility International website – MIUSA has put together comprehensive resources for study abroad students with disabilities. We recommend checking out their website.