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Diversity Abroad

Race and Ethnic Diversity

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)

LGBTQ+ Diversity

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

LGBT Rights Around the World

International Lesbian and Gay Association

Gender Diversity

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.

Disabilities

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

Mobility International- USA

University of Minnesota: Access Abroad

Transgender

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.

Travel-Specific Resources

Destination Information

Optional Templates for Informing Professors

Additional Resources

*With gratitude to Brandeis University Study Abroad Office for their permission to use and share their collection of resources and content.