Diversity in Study Abroad

International education is open and available to students of ALL backgrounds. Regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or level of ability, there is a program for you! The Study Abroad Programs Office wants to ensure that a diverse portion of the Texas A&M student population takes advantage of the opportunity to go abroad.

Things to consider:

  • Local attitudes in your host country can heavily influence the abroad experience for you, as an LGBTQ student. It’s helpful to approach expressing your sexual and gender identity as just another cross-cultural challenge.
  • Before you leave the U.S., learn as much as possible about the culture-specific norms of friendship and dating for relationships between people of any sexual orientation.
  • Before you go abroad, find out what kinds of legal rights LGBTQ persons have in your host country.
  • Once abroad, connect with local support networks and LGBTQ communities to help ease your transition and provide a base to explore your sexual identity in the host culture.
 

Web Resources:

  • Texas A&M GLBT Resource Center - A resource and referral center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Aggies and their straight supporters. 
  • Diversity Abroad - Study abroad tips and resources for LGBTQ students - including a comprehensive LGBTQ Student Guide with country specific information. 
  • International GLBT Association - ILGA has country guides and an interactive map with information about how LGBTQ issues are addressed in specific countries. 
  • U.S. Department of State LGBTI Travel Information - Recommendations for LGBTQ travelers. 
  • NAFSA Rainbow SIG - This organization provides a scholarship made possible by a group of international education professionals who are committed to advocating on behalf of LGBTQ students. 

Things to consider:

  • Research the program destinations and ask questions to understand the program, cultural norms, and resources available in your destination country (e.g., classroom accessibility, academic services, group meals, transportation, required and alternate excursions, housing options, and health care services).  
  • Disclose your disability and medical condition to the Study Abroad Programs Office and Disability Services to initiate the process of securing reasonable accommodations. Early disclosure is strongly encouraged, as it may take 4 to 6 months to finalize arrangements.
  • Plan ahead. Shipment of special supplies, quarantine of service animals, immunizations, travel documents, and other necessary preparations will take time to complete. 
  • Verify with your doctor if your prescription medication is legal in the host country and how to obtain enough supplies for the duration of your stay.
  • Be flexible. The availability of disability accommodations and program adjustments are determined based on the following information: an assessment of the participant’s needs by an Access Coordinator in the Department of Disability Services, examination of the program itinerary with the study abroad advisor/trip leader and on-site staff, and exploration of available resources in the participant’s host destinations.  

 
Web Resources:

  • Texas A&M Department of Disability Services – campus office for academic accommodation coordination, evaluation referral, and disability-related information.
  • Mobility International USA – global non-profit committed to advancing disability rights and leadership. Its website and staff provide guidance related to international exchanges, travel preparations, and program development.
  • Diversity Abroad – is the leading international organization which connects diverse students, recent graduates and young professionals with international study, intern, teach, volunteer, degree and job opportunities. Its website provides study abroad tips, scholarship opportunities, and resources for students with disabilities.
  • U.S. Department of State Traveling with Disabilities – provides recommendations for travelers with disabilities.
  • Transportation Security Administration – provides details on available airport assistance and guidelines on traveling for those with disabilities or medical conditions.
  • Abroad with Disabilities – is a nonprofit committed to promoting individuals with disabilities to travel abroad. Its website provides scholarship opportunities and preparation resources. 

Things to consider:

  • Research the dominant religion for the host destinations and the local attitudes for other religions. In some countries, religious liberty might be different from in the United States.
  • Reflect on your typical spiritual practices and determine 1) which practices you accept foregoing based on the tolerance and/or lack of resources in the host country and 2) which practices you wish to continue.
  • Explore available spiritual community resources and support networks in your host destinations (e.g., places to worship and so forth).
  • Verify whether or not it is safe to wear certain religious symbols or clothing, it is acceptable to debate opposing religious views, and there are etiquettes to observe in places of worship.
  • Verify the availability of foods to accommodate religious dietary needs.
  • Be open to learning something new and understanding the cultural norms of the host country even if you might not agree with them.


Website resources:

  • Diversity Abroad – is the leading international organization which connects diverse students, recent graduates and young professionals with international study, intern, teach, volunteer, degree and job opportunities. Its website provides study abroad tips, scholarship opportunities, and resources for students.
  • BBC Religion and Ethics – provide resources on different world religions and news on current events.
  • The Pluralism Project –this site is managed by Harvard University, which is known for its interfaith research and engaging students studying religious diversity.
  • PEW – Templeton Global Religious Futures Project – this site offers religious demography and survey results for most countries worldwide.