Every student is entitled to have a wonderful experience while abroad; this applies to students of the minority or majority. Some students may be racial minorities at home but study in countries where their race is the majority. Others may be a racial minority for the first time. Students may find that race is less an issue than their nationalities when abroad.
Be aware to do research on your host country, as well as consult with your peers who have studied abroad. The links below will specify information on certain races while studying abroad:
Top 10 Reasons for African American Students to Study Abroad
Study Abroad Isn’t Just for White Students
Reflections of Asian American Students
What About Discrimination?
(available for African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islander American, Hispanic/Latin American, and Native American)
Studying Abroad as a Black Student
I, Too, Am Study Abroad – Student Identities Overseas featuring Alumni Panelists This virtual presentation features a panel of six study abroad alumni who discuss their personal experiences abroad and how they shaped who they are today.
LGBTQ+ students should expect to face many of the challenges typical of their heterosexual peers. Levels of tolerance, acceptance, and support for LGBTQ+ individuals vary greatly from culture to culture. The OIE staff encourages you to educate yourselves about the country and culture in which you’ll be studying. Remember to consider the cultural, social, and legal issues involved.
To educate yourself about LGBTQ+ issues abroad, click the links below:
LGBTQ+ International Safety Tips: A Guide to Safe Travel
NAFSA: Association of International Educators Rainbow Special Interest Group
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered U.S. Peace Corps Alumni
Campus Pride: Queer Advice to Study Abroad
Montclair State LGBT Resource Page
International Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission with country-specific information
Study abroad allows you the opportunity to explore cultural patterns for gender roles. Whether a woman or man, you may experience a shift in the importance gender plays in your (perceived) identities while abroad. For men, this might mean they are expected to adopt a more “traditional” machismo attitude toward life and women. Men may find more discomfort with the open affection between men in many cultures. As for women, they may encounter restrictions in dress, behavior and activities. As for transgendered individuals, they can be met with great confusion and the treatment and expectations will vary.
Prepare yourself by first reflecting on your own cultural understanding of gender roles and relations. Once you are in-country you may find that your perceptions of appropriate interactions do not correspond to the acceptable interactions in your host country. Learn what is expected in terms of dress codes, appropriate conversation topics, proximity and physical contact. Be observant and learn the social norms and the consequences for violating those norms. If you have any questions or concerns the OIE staff will gladly be able to help you.
Students with disabilities face unique challenges and growth opportunities in the study abroad experience. They should make sure that they are informed about available accommodations before making their final decision. With proper planning and communication, this experience can be tremendously rewarding for the student and host community. To inquire about receiving accommodations at your host institution, you should speak with your Study Abroad Advisor and the Disability Resource Center at Montclair State.
For more information about traveling and studying abroad with a disability, please feel free to visit the following:
Montclair’s Disability Resource Center
U.S. Department Tips for Travelers with Disabilities
Transgender students will face unique challenges when studying abroad. Similar to the U.S., attitudes towards gender identities will vary by country. In some countries, transgender people will have equal rights. In others, identifying as transgender may be punishable by law. It is important to keep yourself informed to increase your safety and comfort while abroad. The resources below will help you prepare for a rewarding study abroad experience.
As a transgender student studying abroad, you want to keep in mind the following items:
- Your travel documents: airline reservations require your full name, date of birth and gender to match the information on your passport. If you have not already, update your identification to ensure that it reflects your gender identity.
- Traveling with medication: If you are traveling with needles or medication, you will need to carry them in their original packaging and bring proof of your prescription.
- Airport security: In airports throughout the United States, you have the right to waive the Advanced Imaging security screen, and can opt for a pat-down by an officer of your own gender identity. If you experience harassment or inappropriate behavior, you may file a complaint through the Office of Civil Liberties.
- Prosthetics: You are not required to remove articles of clothing, including prosthetics, in airport screenings in the United States. Keep in mind, however, that prosthetics or bounded chests could raise concern and lead to additional screenings.
- Researching your destination: A good first step to help you decide on your program is to inform yourself about the laws, attitudes and culture surrounding gender in your desired destinations. It is important to remember that not all countries accept or lawfully allow citizens to change their gender identity.
- Your Program: What are the available housing options? Does the center or university have gender-neutral restrooms? What are the available support structures for students? How will your program assist your connection to other students on the program?
- Being out abroad: One question to consider is how and when you will feel comfortable being “out” while abroad. Keep in mind that people of different cultures may not understand language used in the United States and for some, how you identify may be an entirely new concept. It may get tiring, but patience and understanding is key to communicating across cultures and building safe spaces.
- TransRespect.org- Comparative Research on 190 Countries Worldwide
- OutRight Action International- Where We Work
Optional Templates for Informing Professors
- Department of State LGBT Student Travelers
- Transrespect Versus Transphobia Worldwide
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- Education Abroad’s LGBT Student Guide
*With gratitude to Brandeis University Study Abroad Office for their permission to use and share their collection of resources and content.
Military Affiliated Students Studying Abroad
The Office of International Academic Initiatives (IAI) welcomes applications from veterans to study abroad. Our advisors can work with you and the MSU Veterans Advisor to help you select a program that is right for you.
Using Veterans Benefits to Study Abroad
Many veterans and veteran dependents are able to use their benefits to help fund their study abroad experience. If you are interested in using your VA benefits to assist in payment of a study abroad program, you will need to work closely with a Study Abroad Advisor and the Montclair State Veterans Advisor to find the program that fits the requirements of the VA and your study abroad goals.
Please refer to this document for detailed information: VA Study Abroad Program Fact Sheet
As a Montclair State student, you may participate in study abroad via Scenario 1:
Scenario #1: The home school charges tuition and fees, plus additional study abroad fees. The home school has an arrangement with the host school or pays the host school.
- VA could pay the home school’s tuition, up to the public in-state amount allowed. VA would pay no charges directly to the host school. Room and board charges cannot be included in tuition costs.
- VA could provide a monthly housing allowance to the student. This can only occur if the student is enrolled more than half-time.
- VA could provide a books and supplies stipend.
- VA could not pay for any fees specifically due to participation in the study abroad program, unless studying abroad is mandatory for a specific degree.
- Schools that charge a comprehensive fee including the home school’s tuition would have to break out the fee and report the charge tuition to VA.
- VA cannot pay airfare, amenities fees or host school fees.
Montclair State charges some fees* that would not be covered by your VA benefits:
- $100 application fee for all study abroad programs
- $150 application fee for National Student Exchange
- $300 participation fee for enrollment in the Study Abroad or NSE placeholder course while abroad
*Fee amounts subject to change.
VA will only cover tuition on MSU faculty-led programs (where students enroll in MSU courses taught by MSU faculty and tuition costs are billed through MSU) or MSU Exchange Programs.
The following programs are eligible for VA funding:
International Exchange Programs (semester or academic year)
National Student Exchange Program (semester of academic year)
Summer International Exchange Programs (only those indicated as “EXCHANGE”)
MSU Faculty-Led Programs (MSU courses taught abroad, usually spring break or summer). For these programs, VA benefits will cover the tuition only. None of the travel program costs will be covered.
VA benefits cannot pay third-party/study abroad program providers/companies. At MSU these are referred to as “Affiliated Programs”. The BAH is available if the program is an approved study abroad program through VA. IAI can provide cost breakdowns and estimates for each program.
In general, these conditions must be met:
- Study abroad programs must be administered by the Office of International Academic Initiatives
- Students must be enrolled in courses that will apply to their degree program.
- The courses at the “host” school in the foreign country must be approved and apply towards degree.
- VA cannot pay any fees specific to studying abroad (study abroad program fees) unless the student is required to study abroad as part of their degree (MSU does not require study abroad as part of any degree program, except MBA).
If you are a veteran or dependent of a veteran and you are interested in using your funding, please make an appointment with a Study Abroad Advisor as soon as possible.
Other International Opportunities for Military Affiliated Students
IAI advises on a number of U.S. Department of State scholarships that give preference to military affiliated students:
Fulbright U.S. Student Program – Post-bachelors opportunity to conduct research, teach English or enroll in a graduate program abroad on full scholarship.
Critical Language Scholarship – Fully funded summer program for immersive critical language study.
Boren Awards – Funding to support a study abroad program focused in the intensive study of a language critical to US national security
Gilman Scholarship – Funding to subsidize study abroad participation for Pell-eligible students.
Things to Consider
- Will I need to list my military service on a visa application, and how will I do so? Will there be a visa issue if I’ve served in certain countries?
- How will I discuss my military experience with locals and how might it be perceived?
- Has the US military been involved in prior action with or in my host country? What is the perception of those military actions among locals?
- How will any prior international experiences shape my perceptions during my program?
- How will the academic and cultural context abroad shape this international experience? How will if differ from my time abroad in the military?
- What will happen with my Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH)?
- How will I pay for miscellaneous expenses not covered by VA benefits (passport, visa, immunizations, study abroad fee, etc.)?
Worried about a current or future security clearance? Create a spreadsheet to store sustained foreign contact information for serious connections you make abroad. Keep track of your addresses abroad and details for two references per address. You can check out the SF-86 form for more info.
- Attend a Study Abroad information session.
- Meet with your academic advisor to clarify which courses you still need in order to fulfill your degree requirements.
- Explore programs, possibly focusing on those eligible for use of your VA benefits.
- Meet with your academic advisor. Select and start your study abroad program application, making sure it contributes to your academic degree requirements. Confirm with your academic advisor that the courses on your program will indeed satisfy needed degree requirements.
- Clarify your program budget – breakdown costs in each area (tuition, housing, fees, airfare, extras, etc).
- Speak with Jonathan Gubitosi, Veterans Advising, Certification and Engagement Coordinator email@example.com
- Find out what the VA will cover, what paperwork you will need to complete, and what the timeline will look like.
- Get your courses pre-approved for credit. Notify the Veteran Services office which degree requirements the study abroad courses will be satisfying.
- Complete the required study abroad forms and attend pre-departure orientation.
Spanish Language Study Abroad Resources
The following Spanish language materials have been prepared by Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico as part of an IDEAS grant award. IDEAS is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning. Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Puerto Rico has developed Spanish-language resources about study abroad (short videos & flyers/brochures) with the goal of helping increase the number of Hispanic students who participate in study abroad and study away programs.
You can access the videos by visiting the following links for each video:
- ¿Qué has escuchado de estudiar en el extranjero?
- Siendo latinx en el extranjero
- Fortalece tu preparaçión profesional en el extranjero
- Madres hablan de sus hijos en el extranjero
- Familiares apoyan estudios en el extranjero
- Asesoría: ¿Cómo cambiarás al estudiar en el extranjero?
- Asesoría: Salud y seguridad al estudiar en el extranjero
- Asesoría: Mitos sobre estudiar en el extranjero
You can access flyers packets here