There are a lot of things to think about for any student preparing to study abroad. But as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, there are some additional questions that you may want to consider as you prepare for your experience abroad.
The information below includes some questions designed to help you think about where you want to study abroad, what kind of study abroad experience you want to have, how to prepare for life in a different country and culture, as well as the kinds of resources that you may want or need while abroad.
Here are questions LGBTQIA+ students may want to ask themselves while researching and planning for a study abroad program.
Questions about your experience abroad
It is important to think about the kinds of experiences you want to have while you are abroad and how your identity as an LGBTQIA+ student may impact those experiences in a different country and culture. You way want to consider the following:
- How open do you want or need to be while abroad?
- If you choose a location where you feel the need to hide this part of your identity, how will this impact your overall education abroad experience?
- Do you want/need to be part of a supportive LGBTQIA+ community?
- What other intersections of your identity may take the foreground if your sexuality is not in the majority (citizenship, first language, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc)?
Questions about the cultural norms of your host country
Living abroad is full of changes and it is important to recognize that your host country likely will not share the same legal structures or cultural norms as the U.S.. Therefore, it is important to consider the differences in how your social identities will be perceived in your host country versus at home and how you will react to these differences while abroad.
- What are the laws regarding homosexuality and gender identity in your host country?
- Is open discussion of sexual orientation and gender welcome or more taboo?
- What is the social attitude towards the LGBTQIA+ community in your host country?
- What are the laws and cultural norms surrounding relationships and dating in your host country?
- If you find something to be offensive, how should you react in your host country versus at home?
- Are there any current news stories about pride events?
- Are there any pride publications, advocacy organizations, or LGBTQIA+ friendly establishments nearby?
Questions about your host university
Given that the first part of study abroad is study, your host university will play a big role in your life abroad. As a result, it is worth thinking about the types of resources and support networks that will be available for LGBTQIA+ students through your host university.
- Are there LGBTQIA+ organizations on your host campus or in the community?
- How pride friendly is your host university?
Questions about living abroad
Studying abroad will introduce changes to nearly every aspect of your life. As an LGBTQIA+ student, it is very important to review information about the logistical aspects of studying abroad so that you can utilize necessary resources and make the best decisions for yourself prior to and during your time abroad.
- What types of housing options are available?
- If you will live with a host family, do you want to specifically request a family that is known to be supportive of LGBTQIA+ students?
- If you regularly utilize any health or counseling services at home, will these be available and covered by insurance abroad?
- If your gender presentation is different from your legal sex, or if you are in the process of transitioning, what challenges might you face with travel, immigration, and documents?