Studying abroad can be an incredibly life changing experience. It is an option for all students, regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, age, or sexual orientation. Think about the various identities that you hold. Have you researched your host country’s perceptions of women, people with different abilities, different religions, LGBTQIA+ people, or people of color? What about their general perceptions of Americans? As you are researching your program options and preparing to depart, it is important to learn about the culture and norms of the host country.
Want to hear from past participants? The panel discussion linked below includes KSU alumni and KSU partners as they discuss how their identity shaped their international experience.
Even if you do not share a certain identity, it is important to learn and prepare. What privileges do you have that will make your experiences different from other KSU students? If you have friends that are struggling to adjust to their term abroad, ask how you can support them. Do not assume they are feeling the same way you are just because you are in the same country. Similarly, educate yourself about the norms of a host country regarding race, religion, gender, etc., even if you will be in the majority. Knowing the culture you are going into can help you be better prepared to offer support if one of your friends has a negative experience. Everyone can contribute to a meaningful experience abroad. Some countries may be more accepting and open than America, but others will be more discriminatory than you are used to. While we cannot stop these events from happening, we are here to help. Have you thought about your identity might affect your time abroad? Your Education Abroad advisor is here to help you talk through these issues, but the resources below might help, too.
Gender & Sexual Identity: Researching and paying attention to gender roles in a country is a good first step towards ensuring your safety while abroad.
Students of color: Explore resources that might address concerns about racial discrimination, prejudice, or stereotypes.
Visible and Invisible Disabilities: Other countries have varying levels of accessibility, and accommodations may be different than what you're familiar with in the U.S.
First Generation Students: You may have hesitations about taking your studies abroad. Learn about the benefits and how to talk about it with your family.
Military Connected Students: Here you can review information for Veterans specifically, and all those using the GI Bill®, to see how education abroad may be possible for you.
Faith, Spirituality, and Religion: If spirituality or religion plays a big part in your day-to-day life, then planning ahead will make your transition to life abroad easier.