Race and Ethnicity

Racial and ethnic perceptions and experiences vary by culture and country. For some students, it may be the first time in the position of being in the minority or in an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. Others may experience the opposite and become a part of the majority group for the first. Just like life in the United States, students may encounter some discrimination during their experiences abroad. It is important to do your research to prepare for experiences that can be both challenging and rewarding. It helps you to be aware of the variety of views and perspectives that could be positive, negative and everything in between.

Things to Consider:

  • Which ethnic and racial groups do I identify with and how are they perceived in my host country?
  • What are the dominant racial and ethnic groups in my host country? Will I be in the majority or minority? How will this affect how I am treated?
  • What is the history of the host country regarding race and ethnicity? How does it currently affect the climate in the host country today?
  • How might other parts of my identity in addition to my race and ethnicity affect my experience abroad?

Additional Resources

We have curated some additional resources that include networks, articles, blogs, etc. As you explore the impact that your identity will have on your study abroad experience, consider some of the resources below:

 

LGBTQIA+

Laws, customs, social norms, expectations and attitudes regarding sexual orientations can vary greatly in different countries, cultures and communities. It is important to do your research prior to your departure on these dynamics in your host country to stay safe and foster an enriching cultural experience.

Studying abroad often leads to great opportunities for personal growth. Sexual orientation can be fluid concepts that may be welcomed or challenged depending on the host culture. If you identify as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer it is not only important to do your research but to make the best decisions for yourself.

Things to Consider:

  • How visible and large is the LGBTQIA+ community in my host country?
  • What are the past and current laws and cultural attitudes towards my sexual identity in my host culture?
  • Is it safe to be out in the host country and culture? What are my safety and health needs?
  • Are their LGBTQIA+ resources and organizations in my host university and/or host city?
  • What are my housing options? Will they meet my needs?

Additional Resources

We have curated some additional resources that include networks, articles, blogs, etc. As you explore the impact that your identity will have on your study abroad experience, feel free to check out the information below:

Diversity Abroad: LGBTQ+ Students Abroad

International Lesbian and Gay Association: The Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Map of World Laws

International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

U.S. Department of State’s LGBTQ Travel Information

National Center for Transgender Equality - Air Travel Tips for Transgender People

GoAbroad: Meaningful Travel Tips and Tales - LGBTQ Traveler's Perspectives

GlobalGayz.com

UNITY at USCA- Advisor Elizabeth Webb: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

First Generation Abroad

As a first-generation college student, you may be focusing on what it takes to be successful and graduate. Studying abroad may not have even crossed your mind and may not have been a part of your initial plan. However, studying abroad has so many benefits that often help you not only reach your goal of graduation but will make you a stronger candidate as you begin your career.

Things to Consider:

  • Have I spoken to a study abroad advisor, my academic advisor and someone in financial aid to learn what my options are?
  • Have a talked to any of my peers about their study abroad experiences?
  • Have I talked to my support system of families and/or friends about my plans to study abroad?
  • Have I inquired about financial resources, scholarships and grants?
  • Will the financial cost of a program influence the options that you consider?
  • How will I budget for my study abroad experience?
  • Is the cost of living higher or lower at my host institution and host culture?

Additional Resources

We have curated some additional resources that include networks, articles, blogs, etc. As you explore the impact that your identity will have on your study abroad experience, feel free to check out the information below:


Religion, Spirituality and Faith

The freedom of religious and spiritual practices can vary depending on the host culture. Thus, it is important to do your research and respect the religious and spiritual beliefs of your host country. If the religion and/or spiritual beliefs differ from your own, it is important to keep an open mind. Not only does it allow for greater understanding of the culture, it also gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own religious and or spiritual beliefs.

Things to Consider:

  • What are the dominate religions and/or spiritual practices in my host country?
  • How do people in the host culture view other religions?
  • Is my religion legal and practiced in my host country? Do I have any concerns about my religion?
  • Do I plan to practice my religion or spiritual practice in the host country? How might I practice it?
  • Are there resources or organizations for my religion or spiritual practice in my host country?
Additional Resources

Students who are comfortable with exploring their identity here at USC Aiken will be better prepared to engage with the issues raised above. In order to best prepare, you may want to consider working through identity-related questions and topics with resources on campus. Here are some online resources for your consideration:

 

Mobility and Accommodations

Students who need disability access can study abroad. If you need disability access and/or accommodations and are planning to study abroad, we encourage you to contact both the Office of International Programs and the Disability Resource Office. Schedule meetings with an advisor or access consultants soon as possible for assistance and advice about participation on a study abroad program. Though accessibility and accommodations for people with disabilities vary from country to country, many accommodations can be arranged on a case-by-case basis, especially if those accommodations are disclosed early in the process.

Things to Consider:

  • What are the perceptions of people with disabilities and mental health conditions in the host culture?
  • Am I comfortable disclosing or discussing my disability or mental health access needs?
  • What challenges might I face during the entire study abroad process? How will I prepare and overcome them?
  • What resources and accommodations do I need for my courses and in my living space?
  • Does the location and culture of the study abroad program that I am considering provide the resources and support that I need?
  • Students’ health conditions and/or disability are not factored into the application decision process. However, it is important during the application phase of the process to think about and discuss what access and accommodations may be needed to find the best fit.

Additional Resources

We have curated some additional resources that include networks, articles, blogs, etc. As you explore the impact that your identity will have on your study abroad experience feel free to check out the information below: 

The Disability Services Office and the Counseling Center are also great place to start.

 

Non-Traditional Students

Non-traditional students often have different responsibilities such as those tied to families, professional and other obligations at home that do not affect many traditional students in the same way. Thus, it is important to take these factors into consideration when studying abroad. There are a variety of programs with a variety of lengths to consider. Many traditional students have various life experiences that often allow for deeper cultural exploration and a variety of perspectives that can impact their and other participants’ study abroad experiences.

Things to Consider:

  • Think about what makes you a non-traditional student, as it can vary greatly. What resources does the host institution and host culture have to support your needs?
  • Do I have other responsibilities at a family, home, or professional obligations that will affect the study abroad program selection and length?
  • Will there be any other participants that I can relate to on the program? Are there opportunities to connect with students and others from the host culture that I can relate or have more in common with?
  • What can I learn from my fellow participants and those from host culture who I may not relate to immediately?
  • What type of housing accommodations would you prefer? Are those options available in the programs you are considering?
  • How will this study abroad experience relate to and enhance my academic, personal and career goals?

Additional Resources

We have curated some additional resources that include networks, articles, blogs, etc. As you explore the impact that your identity will have on your study abroad experience feel free to check out the information below:

 

Military and Veterans

Military, veteran and military-affiliated students often participate in study abroad programs to gain further global experiences. Military and Veteran students are often able to gain new perspectives as they study in a different culture and country. These study abroad experiences can often enhance and compliment the international experience gained through the military.

Things to Consider:

  • How is the military viewed in my host country? How will that affect my experience as I learn more about the people and the culture of the host country?
  • What unique perspectives and previous global experience can I contribute to my study abroad experiences? What new skills do I want to gain while abroad?
  • What military assistance and benefits can I use towards my study abroad program?
  • Have I talked to the Veteran and Military Student Success Center to see how financial aid can potentially be used?
  • What military/work, family and/or home, responsibilities do I need to take into consideration when choosing a program?
  • How might other parts of my identity in addition to my military affiliation affect my experience abroad?

Additional Resources

We have curated some additional resources that include networks, articles, blogs, etc. As you explore the impact that your identity will have on your study abroad experience feel free to check out the information below.:

 

International Students Participating in Programs Abroad

As an international degree seeking student you are already studying abroad here at USCA. However, you may still want to study abroad in another country while earning your degree. We highly encourage you to do so. There are many programs that you can participate in. Being of a different nationality and visa status may impact where you study abroad and the documentation you need to study in your host institution. Thus, it is important to begin the process early and work with our office. Your success in studying here in the United States as an international student give you a unique perspective. Studying abroad yet again will further enhance your cultural understanding and cross-cultural communication.

Things to Consider:

  • What is the relationship between your home country and your host country?
  • Have you researched the visa requirements between your home country and your host country?
  • Have you contacted the Office of International Programs to let them know about your plans to study abroad? Have you discussed any requirements that need to be done to stay in compliance with your student visa?
  • What immigration documents do you need to carry with you?

Additional Resources

We have curated some additional resources that include networks, articles, blogs, etc. As you explore the impact that your identity will have on your study abroad experience, feel free to check out the information below:

Students who are comfortable with exploring their identity here at USC Aiken will be better prepared to engage with the issues raised above. In order to best prepare, you may want to consider working through identity-relatedquestions and topics with resources on campus. The Office of International Programs is a great place to start.