The Study Abroad Office at Ball State University is committed to ensuring that study abroad is an accessible and enriching experience for all our students. Diversity, in all its dimensions, strengthens the fabric of our study abroad programs. As you explore study abroad possibilities, it's important to recognize that attitudes toward your identity may vary outside the U.S. Understanding the cultural implications of your identity can enhance your self-awareness and deepen your connection with the new culture you'll be living in. Before choosing a study abroad program, take some time to research your potential host country’s social norms, cultural practices, and local customs. We understand that navigating your identity in new and unfamiliar environments can be challenging. The Study Abroad Office is here to help – feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns as you embark on this exciting journey.
Women & Gender Expression
Concepts of gender and gender roles can vary across the U.S. and the world. It’s important to, before deciding on programs or accommodations, ensure you understand the norms, customs, and laws in your new surroundings to determine where you want to go, or how you might express yourself while abroad.
Questions to Consider:
- How safe is this destination for women travelers?
- What are the local attitudes toward women, and are there any specific safety concerns?
- How are women expected to dress in the host country?
- What are considered typical male and female social behaviors, gender relations, customs, and social tendencies in my host country?
- What are some relevant laws/legal statutes that protect people of my gender or gender identity?
- What are the culturally significant views of the local people?
- What gender stereotypes or expectations might I find in my host country?
- How should I react if something offensive is said to me/about me?
- Does my host country have resources I can use if it happens?
- How open will I be about my gender identity with teachers/peers/host families/etc.?
- Will I need access to any medications or services while abroad, and does that country offer access to it?
- Are there any cultural considerations related to women’s health practices?
- How important is building an interpersonal connection to others of my gender to me?
- Women's Empowerment Principles (WEPs)
- IIE's Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)
- UN Women - Empower Women
- Transgender Equality Abroad
- The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
- Gender in Foreign Languages
- LGBTQ+ and Safety
- Global Trans Rights Index
LGBTQIA+ Identities Abroad
Concepts of relationships, marriage, identity, and sexuality can vary greatly from place to place across the U.S. and the world. When studying abroad, it’s crucial to understand the attitudes, customs, and laws in your host country. Reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of sexual identity and consider carefully how your identity as a LGBTQIA+ person may affect your relationships with host country nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall study abroad experience. Regardless of where you go, it is important to be alert and try to avoid potentially unsafe environments.
Questions to Consider:
- What is the legal status of LGBTQ+ rights in the host country?
- Are there any laws or regulations that may impact people of my identity?
- What safety considerations should be taken into account, especially concerning public displays of affection?
- How open do I want to be with others about my sexual orientation/identity/gender?
- What are the common, culturally-based attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country?
- What is the attitude of local residents toward people from the U.S., other nationalities, and LGBTQIA+ tourists?
- Does my program have accommodations for me? (Private bathroom, LGBTQIA+ friendly roommates, etc.)
- What on-campus resources are available to members of the LGBTQIA+ community?
- Are there any LGBTQ+ friendly establishments nearby?
- How LGBTQ+ friendly are healthcare services in the host country?
- Will I be able to find medical professionals who are knowledgeable about my needs?
- What support systems might I be able to find?
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA World)
- IES Abroad - LGBTQ+ Inclusive Study Abroad
- Diversity Abroad - LGBTQ+ Students Abroad
- Maps - Sexual orientation laws | ILGA World
- LGBTQI+ Travel Information | US Dept. of State
Race and Ethnicity
We acknowledge historical disparities in students of color participating in study abroad, and we’re committed to making sure black, African-American, Latinx, indigenous, and ethnic minority students can see themselves studying abroad. Your racial and/or ethnic background is a vital part of your identity, and studying abroad can be a transformative and enriching experience. Keep in mind that assumptions about race and ethnicity are also culturally bound, meaning that while abroad, you may find that others make assumptions based on your appearance. Norms about staring, touching hair or skin, and blunt questions about where you’re from may all differ from the U.S.
Questions to Consider:
- How diverse is the student body in the host country and within the study abroad program?
- How is my ethnicity/race perceived in my host country?
- What kind of stereotypes are there, and how should I respond to them?
- Are there communities, organizations, networks, or affinity groups that cater to the needs of students of color?
- How should I react if somebody says or does something offensive?
- Am I prepared to address or respond to potential microaggressions or stereotyping?
- Are there spaces where I can connect with and celebrate my cultural heritage?
- Are there any safety concerns related to race or ethnicity in the host country?
- Will there be other minority students in my program?
- What is the availability of products I might use related to health or personal grooming?
- Will I find service providers that are familiar with ethnic hair textures and styles?
- How can I use my time and conversations abroad to positively represent U.S. diversity and share my culture?
- Does the coursework of the program incorporate diverse cultural perspectives?
- Diversity Abroad Network
- The Forum on Education Abroad - Resources on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Race Forward - Racial Equity Impact Assessment
- Considering Issues of Race and Ethnicity Before Going Abroad
- UW-Stout's Bias Incident Response Team
- Scholarships and Financial Aid for Students of Color Abroad
Whether it's ensuring accessible accommodations, addressing mobility concerns, or facilitating inclusive experiences, our goal is to provide the necessary support to make study abroad accessible for everyone. Keep in mind that laws and customs related to accommodations can vary greatly from place to place across the U.S. and the world. This includes perspectives on medications, types of disabilities accommodated, and general attitude towards people with disabilities that may be very different from the United States. As you plan your journey, it's essential to explore the accessibility of accommodations, both on campus and in the broader community. Understanding the mobility and transportation landscape is crucial, including the accessibility of public transit and popular destinations.
Questions to Consider:
- What social norms apply to people with disabilities in my host country?
- Are there cultural assumptions about invisible or visible disabilities that might be helpful to understand?
- What are the specific laws and regulations related to accessibility and accommodation in my host country?
- What words might I need to learn in another language to describe my disability?
- Will I require any medications or treatments while abroad, and are they available and accessible in my host country? If not, what regulations and processes do I need to research in order to bring them with me?
- What might I need to share about my disability with others in my host country for safety/accommodation reasons?
- How much am I comfortable with sharing?
- How may this change or shape where I choose to go?
- If somebody says or does something offensive, how should I approach it?
- Is there a designated person or group I can contact?
- What resources does my program provider offer for my accessibility needs?
- Does my host country have transportation and other accessibility standards that will fit my needs?
- What are my back-up plans if my accessibility or mobility aids malfunction while abroad?
- Will my assistive devices and technologies be compatible with local systems?
- How can I communicate my specific needs during emergency or evacuation situations?
- Mobility International USA - Accessible Study Abroad
- AHEAD - Association on Higher Education and Disability
- U.S. Department of State - Students with Disabilities
- Dept. of State | Traveling with Disabilities
- A Guide to Studying Abroad with a Disability