Home General Tips for Studying Abroad as a Student from the LGBTQIA+ Community

Tips for Studying Abroad as a Student from the LGBTQIA+ Community

by Angela Manginelli
Young woman holding LGBTQIA+ flag in Europe | AIFS Study Abroad

Everyone has a complex identity, and as a student who is LGBTQIA+, this piece of your identity can be an important factor when deciding on a study abroad location. We encourage you to use the information here as you review your options in order to select the location that will be the best fit for you.

Here are 5 tips for students who identify as LGBTQIA+ and plan to study abroad:

1. Ask yourself what you want to get out of your time abroad.

Everyone who studies abroad has varied reasons for going abroad, which include language study, taking part in an internship in your major, a desire to explore a culture outside of your own, an interest in seeing how people from your same social identity live abroad, and to complete requirements for your degree.

Once you have an idea of what your focus is, it will inform the locations that will be the best fit for your needs. Think about how long you want to be abroad – we offer programs from two-weeks to a year. You will also want to consider the type of physical environments that resonate most with you –do you want a smaller town or a big city? Do you like the mountains or long to be by the sea? We also offer summer traveling programs that allow you to get a taste of several destinations while studying a subject comparatively.

2. Everyone’s experience is unique.

Although some locations are known for being more welcoming to members of the gay community, LGBTQIA+ students can and do study abroad all over the world. We have created a handout with questions to consider when determining the best locations for your academic and social needs. If you have questions about the cultural climate you are welcome to reach out to me with the locations you are considering at alumni@aifs.com and I would be happy to provide you with more information.

3. Use your resources.

The AIFS Student Resources website has handouts to download as well as links to websites that can assist as you plan your time abroad, including information before departure and while at the airport for travelers who are transgender.The AIFS blog has posts from students in the LGBTQIA+ community that can provide additional insights into different locations.

4. Connect with program alumni.

One of the best ways to find out about the study abroad experience is to talk with recent program participants. You can search in the AIFS Student Portal by home institution and location. We also have students from varied social identities who are happy to share their individual experience of going abroad as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. Email me at alumni@aifs.com and I would be happy to connect you with them.

5. Apply for scholarships.

More than 50% of AIFS program participants receive financial support from AIFS in the form of scholarships or grants. We also accept outside scholarships, including the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the Boren Scholarship, and the Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) scholarships.

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