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Diversity & Identity Abroad Guides

First generation college students are very likely to be the first in their families to be presented with the opportunity to learn abroad. As a first generation college student, your focus may be to simply navigate what it means to be successful in higher education. There's a good chance that going abroad was never part of your vision for what this success looks like, and that's ok. There are so many benefits to learning abroad that will ultimately make you a stronger candidate for opportunities after you graduate. In preparing for learning abroad, here are a few reflection questions and tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

Reflection Questions

  • When and where do I want to learn abroad?
  • How can I explain the benefits of learning abroad to my family?
  • How will I respond to questions of financial ability and safety from my family?
  • How can I best prepare myself to be away from my support system?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Talk to Your Advisors: When preparing to learn abroad, make appointments to speak with your Academic Advisor(s), Learning Abroad Coordinator, and Financial Aid Counselor. You should connect with your Academic Advisors to figure out which courses enable you to earn credits towards your major or minor. Speak with your Learning Abroad Coordinator to fully understand what programs are available to you and the process to apply for a program.  And of course, talk with the Financial Aid office about options available to fund a Learning Abroad Program.
  • Talk to Returned Learning Abroad Students: Returned students can give you firsthand advice about the process of living and learning abroad, and will give you the most truthful answers you could want. If you don't know anyone who has studied abroad, ask your advisors to connect you with someone who has recently gone abroad on the same program or to the same region/city/country.
  • Do Your Research: Do as much research as possible. Speaking with advisors and other Learning Abroad alumni is a great start, but take the time to look into your options to ensure you make the best decision.
  • Find Support: Making the decision to go abroad, especially if no one you know before you has done it, can be daunting. Your family and friends may not understand your motivations, or may even think it's a "vacation”! It's important to find people in your life who support your decision to go abroad, whether that support comes from friends, family, mentors, or even other students in your Learning Abroad cohort. Having people in your life who understand and respect your decision to go abroad can help you feel more comfortable, and can help you ease into your Learning Abroad Program more smoothly. 

Campus Resources:

  • TRIO – Outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide academic success services to qualified individuals.

Additional Resources

 Source: Diversity Abroad

For many students, learning about their heritage is important. Going abroad presents these students with an opportunity to connect and learn about their ancestral history and culture firsthand. These students, called "heritage seekers", pursue learning abroad in the country where their families come from “not because it is unfamiliar and new, but rather because it is somewhat familiar.”

For these students, choosing to study in their homeland can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. Some heritage seekers have returned from programs feeling more connected to their ancestral land and culture, while others return feeling more associated and appreciative of their American roots. In any case, many heritage students develop a deeper understanding of their identity.

If you are a Heritage Seeking student preparing to go abroad, you should be aware that many of the ideas and presumptions that you have about your host country will be challenged. One of the best things heritage learners can do is to enter the country with an open mind. You should be prepared for the possibility of being accepted by the local community in the home country because of shared ethnic ties, but also being viewed as an outsider because of cultural differences and national identity. In either scenario, heritage seekers will learn more about themselves and how they identify with others. In preparing for learning abroad, here are a few reflection questions and tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

Reflection Questions

  • How will I be perceived in my home country? 
  • Will I be accepted in my home country?
  • How should I react if I find something to be offensive? 
  • Am I used to being part of the minority at home? How will it be to be a part of the majority abroad? 
  • Will there be other heritage-seeking students in my program? 

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Remember although there is an ethnic affiliation between you and the people in your home country, there are many cultural differences and you might not be accepted as one of their own.
  • Be aware that people may generalize or incorrectly identify your ethnicity. Additionally, you may be identified as American and an outsider rather than a part of the host country.
  • Research the customs and culture of your home country. There might be great differences between what you think you know about the home country based on how you were raised and what it is actually like. To this end, have an open mind about your home country in an effort to avoid unrealistic expectations.
  • Learn more about other heritage students’ experiences abroad. For example, you can talk to other heritage students who have studied abroad or find information online.

Additional Resources

Source: Diversity Abroad

Although being from an economically disadvantage background can seem like a major hindrance to you being able to learn abroad, it doesn’t have to be. There is a common misperception that students with high financial need simply can’t afford to learn abroad or that an educational experience abroad is out of reach. However, many students with high financial need DO learn abroad! There are many ways for you to make the experience affordable, including using financial aid, scholarships, grants, and loans. In general, financial aid is based on need, merit, or sometimes both. Other requirements may be things like citizenship and enrollment in a certain number of credits. Talk with your Financial Aid Advisor to discuss what kinds of aid are available to you.  In preparing for learning abroad, here are a few reflection questions and tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

 Reflection Questions:

  • What programs and locations make the most sense for me financially?
  • How and when should I apply for financial aid and scholarships for learning abroad? 
  • What are all of the costs associated with learning abroad?
  • What kind of aid is available to me for summer programs?
  • What are the different sources of funding I can explore?
  • Can I work abroad?

Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • Choosing a location - One of the smartest ways to make learning abroad feasible is by choosing a destination with a low cost of living. While some countries are notoriously more expensive to live in than the U.S., such as England, other non-traditional locations are often cost-effective and mean that you'll spend a lot less living abroad. In fact, learning abroad can even be cheaper than staying on campus because your housing and food costs can be so much cheaper overseas! 

If you're open to a location where the U.S. dollar can take you further, you also increase your chances of securing some of the most competitive scholarships that exist. This is because scholarship providers try to award students from a variety of institutions, identities, fields of study, and of course, destinations. By choosing a location less-traveled, not only can your learning abroad experience be more affordable, you can also open yourself up to being awarded more awards relative to other common, more competitive countries.

  • Look into scholarship opportunities - There are plenty of scholarships that are available to help alleviate the costs of going abroad. Learning Abroad has scholarships that amount to more than $200,000 annually to help make going abroad a reality for many. Keep in mind that scholarship applications often require lots of hard work and planning. For more tips on how to successfully write a strong scholarship application, watch the Diversity Abroad webinar on Scholarships and Tips for Writing an Award Winning Application.
  • Consider fundraising - Another way to help finance your learning abroad experience is through personal fundraising. Not only is it a way for you to earn money, it also gets your friends and family involved in your learning abroad plans. There are many different activities that fall under the category of personal fundraising, such as:
    • Online crowd-sourced fundraising campaigns
    • Letter writing campaign to family and friends
    • Asking members of your church or other community members
    • Candy and bake sales 
    • Auctions 
    • Car washes 
    • Asking people to sponsor you 
  • Find ways to stretch your finances - No matter when you go abroad and how you fund it, good money management will help you make the most of your financial resources. Before you go abroad, put together a budget. Make a list of expenses, which should include:
    • Living expenses: housing, meals 
    • Academic expenses: tuition, books 
    • Travel expenses: airfare, passport, visa, local transportation 
    • Communication expenses: internet access, cell phone 
    • Program expenses: application fee, group excursions 
    • Health and safety expenses: insurance, immunizations 
    • Personal expenses: toiletries, souvenirs, entertainment

Campus Resources:

Additional Resources:

Source: Diversity Abroad

International students (with F-1/J-1 visa status) studying in the U.S. can enhance their experience by taking advantage of Learning Abroad Programs. These programs provide opportunities for students to immerse themselves in a new culture, gain language skills, conduct research, grow their global network and much more!

While learning abroad, students will still be enrolled at the University of Utah as international students and must ensure they meet all requirements to keep their U.S. visa status as well as any host country visa/entry requirements.  Students should be sure to meet with an Advisor in the International Student and Scholar Services office (ISSS) early in the planning process to ensure they have time to meet all requirements and obtain all necessary visas/documentation. In preparing for learning abroad, here are a few reflection questions and tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

Reflection Questions

  • How does my citizenship affect entry requirements for the host country/countries?
  • What is the state of relations between my home country and the host country?
  • Have I met with an Advisor in ISSS to go over my plans to learn abroad and how it may affect my U.S. visa status?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Participating in a Learning Abroad Program as an international student can greatly enrich your educational experience, but you must make sure you do your research, plan ahead and understand all requirements of the host country as well as your U.S. visa before going abroad.
  • Consult with ISSS early in the planning process to ensure you are complying with immigration regulations.
  • Diplomatic relations between a student’s home country and their learning abroad host country may impede or improve a student’s ability to obtain a visa and study in that country.

Campus Resources

Additional Resources

Throughout the world, due to social and cultural differences, people respond differently to questions of gender and sexuality. If you identify as LGBTQIA, being out while you are abroad can affect your experiences. Some countries, foreign laws, and cultures are open and accepting of LGBTQIA people. On the other hand, other countries and regions may exercise adverse views, treatment, and laws that impact the daily lives of people who identify as LGBTQIA. For this reason, we highly recommend learning more about the local laws, norms, and expectations associated with gender identity, expression, and/or sexuality as part of your program research and selection process.

When selecting a program, we encourage you to consider the culturally-based ideas and definitions of sexual identity and gender in the countries you plan to visit. These ideas and practices may have an impact on the way people interact with you, your level of culture shock, your safety, and your overall experience. Before you go abroad, find out what kinds of legal rights LGBTQIA persons have in your host country. For example some countries prosecute LGBTQIA people and behavior. Additionally, it is important to remember that not all countries accept or lawfully allow citizens to change their gender identity.

No matter where you go, you will encounter different ideologies and will have to adapt to different customs while you are abroad. You’ll want to research what kinds of behavior are viewed as appropriate for friendship, public displays of affection, and dating. What does it mean if two people of the same gender kiss or hold hands in the country you plan to visit? Is it a sign of platonic friendship or a display of romantic affection? Would this put you in danger? The answers to these questions can vary greatly country to country. Research if it is taboo to discuss sexual and/or gender identity in the countries you plan to visit. Finally, if you will be staying with a host family, consider discussing with your study abroad advisor or program director whether or not you should come out to your host family. While some organizations, like DIS are very supportive and even offer placements with LGBTQIA host families, others may be limited in the support or options they can provide.

Be informed and be aware of the attitudes, customs, and laws of your host country. You can use resources like Diversity Abroad’s Destination Guides to help you prepare for your experience abroad. Confide in people who you can trust, and establish a healthy relationship with others who can support you, help you feel safe, and make sure you have a rewarding experience abroad. Finally, the staff members in Learning Abroad are very happy to assist you in researching destinations and discussing your options.

Reflection Questions

  • What are the laws regarding sexuality and gender identity in my host country? 
  • Is it safe for me to be “out” when I’m abroad? Do I want to be “out” when I am abroad? Should I come out to my host family? 
  • What are the cultural norms for dating and friendship? 
  • What is the LGBTQIA population like in my host country? How visible and large is it? What strategies do local LGBTQIA people use to navigate local structures and cultural systems? 
  • What are the available housing options?
  • Does the center or university have restrooms that I can access/feel comfortable accessing?
  • What are the available support structures and resources for LGBTQIA students in the host country?
  • How will my program assist my connection to other students on the program?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Research your destination: Research the terms and definitions used in your host country by LGBTQIA people, while acknowledging that LGBTQIA people are often not reflected in language, and you may not know until you get there what words you should use. Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the customs and laws of your host country. Research whether or not talking about sexuality and gender identity is taboo. Learning Abroad recommends keeping your personal safety in mind when researching host countries. The resources linked on this page can help you to identify countries that may be more accepting or open-minded to LGBTIA students. As you research, look for a support network abroad. If you are having trouble finding a good fit program or if you would like to discuss your concerns with someone, reach out to Learning Abroad for help!
  • Your travel documents: Airline reservations require your full name, date of birth, and gender to match the information on your passport. We understand there are challenges with this and encourage students to reach out to our office if they have questions or concerns.  
  • 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. Some people prefer imaging security screens, while some prefer a pat down option. It is most helpful to have people with you who can witness what is happening, so having someone to go through TSA with can be beneficial. Screening can be conducted in a private screening area with a witness or companion of the traveler’s choosing. 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.

Campus Resources

External Resources

Sources:

A non-traditional student is defined as someone who identifies with any of the following:
  • did not enter postsecondary education immediately after high school
  • has a GED instead of a high school diploma
  • works full-time while enrolled at the University of Utah
  • has dependents other than a spouse

As a non-traditional student, you may have work, home, and family obligations that many “traditional” students don’t have to worry about. If these responsibilities are a concern for you, you may want to consider participating in a short-term learning abroad program.

You may worry that as a non-traditional student you won’t fit in because you are older than other college students. Sometimes, the age difference can cause feelings of isolation from others. Nevertheless, learning abroad is still a valuable experience, especially if you have never had the opportunity to live or go abroad before.

In fact, non-traditional students have certain advantages over traditional students when they learn abroad. As a non-traditional student, you have more life experience, and can gain deeper insight into the culture and politics of the host country. Plus, because you have had experience in the workforce, you will understand the value of developing skills such as cross-cultural communication. In preparing for learning abroad, here are a few reflection questions and tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

Reflection Questions

  • Do I have work, home, and/or family obligations that prevent me from learning abroad for an extended period of time? 
  • Will there be other non-traditional students in my program? 
  • How old are the other students participating in my program? 
  • How do people in my host country view non-traditional students? 
  • What skills do I want to gain or improve while I’m abroad?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Look into short term programs if you cannot afford to spend an extended period of time away from your family and can’t take too much time off work. 
  • Talk with other non-traditional students who have studied abroad. 
  • Sometimes you might feel that you don’t fit in, but remember not to isolate yourself from the rest of the group. Get to know the others and let them get to know you. 
  • Research the people close to you age in the country you will be studying in and the areas they may live. For example, do they work? Take care of their children and/or parents? Live alone or with extended family? 

Additional Resources

Source: Diversity Abroad

Concepts of race and ethnicity are often culturally-based. When you visit a new country, you may be faced with new expectations, stereotypes, and norms related to your physical appearance. Some students may experience a sense of freedom from U.S. race and racism abroad. In the U.S. you might be classified by your race or ethnicity first, but abroad, you may be viewed first as an American. While you are abroad, you may be placed into the same category for the first time with white American students, which may be uncomfortable.

If you’re going to a country where your race or ethnicity is in the majority (for information about heritage seeking abroad, refer to our section on heritage seekers), you may expect to be greeted warmly or feel a sense of belonging/fitting in abroad. Please note, because American media is available all around the world, the perceptions people have of you may be informed by American ethnic/racial stereotypes. Additionally, because there is an overrepresentation of white people in American media, some people may be confused to learn that you are American.

Many people you encounter abroad will show a sincere interest in your culture and background. There may be people who stare at you or who are eager to touch your hair or your skin. Others may ask insensitive questions about your cultural heritage, physical features, or national origins. If you are abroad in an area where people have had little or no contact with people who look like you, they tend to be very curious, especially children.

If somebody says or does something that is offensive to you, try to distinguish between a person who is genuinely curious about you and your culture and someone who has bad intentions. You may find yourself in some uncomfortable situations, and always remember to put your safety first. While campus resources, such as CESA, are available to you while you’re abroad, they may be limited in their reach and influence, especially if you participate in an exchange or affiliate program.  

As you prepare for your Program, we encourage you to research attitudes and customs related to race and ethnicity in the countries you plan to visit. You can also use resources like Diversity Abroad’s Destination Guides to help you prepare for your experience abroad. Investing time and energy into researching these elements of culture will leave you better equipped to handle the challenges you might face and ready to take advantage of the benefits your host culture may offer. Additionally, Learning Abroad may be able to help you identify people on campus (students, professors, and staff) from your racial or ethnic group who have studied, researched, or lived abroad.

If you or your family have any questions or concerns, please contact us (learningabroad@utah.edu or 801-581-5849). The staff in Learning Abroad would be happy to meet with you (and your family, if you would like) and provide you with more information and resources to help you choose the best program for your goals and interests!

Reflection Questions

  • How is my ethnic/racial group perceived in my host country? What kind of stereotypes are there? 
  • How should I react if I find something to be offensive? 
  • Is the person curious or do they have bad intentions? 
  • Has my host family housed students like me before?
  • Am I used to being part of the racial/ethnic minority at home but will be in the racial/ethnic majority abroad? Or vice versa? 
  • Will there be other students like me on my program? 
  • Who will I contact if I do face racial or discriminatory incidents? 
  • Does my program have support staff that will understand and help me through any racial or discriminatory incident I may face? 

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Remember that people abroad have different cultural norms. You may encounter cultures that are less “politically correct” compared to U.S. cultural customs.
  • The more you integrate with the culture the less you'll stand out, but your skin, hair, or other features may still attract attention. 
  • Research what kinds of contact and relations your racial/ethnic group has had in your host country. You may also want to research immigration in general. 
  • Be aware that people may generalize or incorrectly identify your ethnicity. 
  • Learn more about other U.S. racial/ethnic minority students’ experiences abroad.
  • Build a support network among other learning abroad students so that if you do face racial or discriminatory incidents you'll have support to deal with it. 
  • Be prepared if an incident does arise, but don't go abroad expecting racism or discrimination.  

Campus Resources

External Resources

Religion plays a major role in many cultures around the world. Going abroad exposes you to different belief systems and religious traditions, which gives you an opportunity to learn more about your host country’s culture. Do your best to understand the majority religion being practiced in your host country, especially if it is one you are largely unfamiliar with. 

It is a good idea to research religion in your host country before you go abroad. Maybe you’re used to being part of the religious majority at home, but will be part of the religious minority abroad. If you are planning to practice your religion abroad, ask locals or your program staff to see if there are any places where you can worship safely. Even if you don’t practice a religion yourself, many on your program may. It can be helpful to find ways to support your peers, and to understand how to be an ally for them while you’re abroad. You’ll also want to find out what degree of religious tolerance there is in your host country. 

By going abroad, you’ll gain a new perspective on religions as they are practiced around the world. You’ll return home with an increased familiarity with other belief systems and a greater respect for them. In preparing for learning abroad, here are a few reflection questions and tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

Reflection Questions

  • What is the dominant religion in my host country? 
  • Will I be part of the religious majority or minority abroad? 
  • Are there any laws regarding religion? Is there a separation between religion and government? 
  • How tolerant is the host country of other religions? What about atheists and agnostics? 
  • Is it safe for me to wear religious symbols or clothing?
  • What are ways I can respect the religion in my host country and participate in cultural events, even if I don’t practice that religion?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Stay open minded about religious practices, even if you receive criticism for your beliefs. 
  • If you are planning to practice your religion abroad, you may want to find out what places of worship there are. 
  • If you have religious dietary restrictions, be sure to let your program director or appropriate staff know ahead of time, especially if you are living with a host family. 
  • Depending on where you go, religion may have a larger or smaller role than it does in the U.S. 
  • Use your experience abroad to learn about world religions the role they play in diverse cultures. 

Campus Resources

Additional Resources

Source: Diversity Abroad

Many student-athletes assume that learning abroad simply isn’t a possibility for them due to their busy training, practice and competition schedules. Thankfully, there are many opportunities for student-athletes to learn abroad while maintaining their athletic standing and career. As a student athlete, you will find that with a little extra planning, going abroad on an academic program is well within your reach. In preparing for learning abroad, here are a few reflection questions and tips to help you successfully navigate the process:

Reflection Questions

  • What learning abroad programs fit with your athletic schedule and commitments?
  • Have you discussed your desire to learn abroad with your coach and Academic Advisor(s)?
  • Do you have a plan for training/keeping in shape while abroad?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Careful timing of learning abroad is crucial for student athletes - There are many program lengths to choose from, ranging from a week to a full academic or calendar year. You will need to consider your training, practice and competition schedules when researching different programs.
  • Speak with your coach and Academic Advisor early on in your planning – Starting the conversation at least a year in advance is recommended.
  • Speak with other student-athletes who have learned abroad
  • Scholarships – Some athletic scholarships can be applied to Learning Abroad Programs. Check with the Scholarships and Financial Aid office for more information.

Additional Resources

Your experience abroad will likely vary from your experience living and studying in the United States. Keep in mind that places abroad may not be as accessible as you are used to. 

Each country has different attitudes, laws, and accommodations impacting people with disabilities. For example, in the U.S., independence is highly valued, but in other countries, people may assume that those with disabilities want or need help. Remember that your host country’s attitudes towards people with disabilities may be drastically different from what you’re used to in the U.S. You might see this in the way people treat you and in the kinds of resources available to you abroad. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply outside of U.S. borders. As such, foreign countries may not have an obligation to make buildings, classrooms, airports, transportation, or education programs ADA accessible.

Despite these challenges, the U is committed to making Learning Abroad available to as many students as possible, and we will make every effort to coordinate reasonable accommodations for U of U students on our programs abroad.

Learning Abroad and the Center for Disability and Access (CDA) work together to help students with disabilities participate in successful Learning Abroad programs. Additionally, some affiliate partners, likeCAPA, have special funding set aside specifically to help cover accommodations costs.

The University of Utah seeks to provide equal access to its programs, services, and activities for people with disabilities. Reasonable prior notice is needed to arrange accommodations. Evidence of practices not consistent with these policies should be reported to the University’s ADA/Section 504 Coordinator: Director, Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, 201 S. Presidents Cr., Rm 135, Salt Lake City, UT. 84112. (801)581-8365 (V/TDD).

More questions?  We’re here to help!  Contact Learning Abroad (801-581-5849 or learningabroad@utah.edu) and the Center for Disability and Access (801-581-5020 or info@disability.utah.edu) for more information!

Reflection Questions

  • What is the environment like?
  • How are people with my disability viewed in the country I plan to visit?
  • Where will I travel? How accessible are the places I plan to live/visit?
  • What are the housing arrangements? Are they accessible?
  • What types of medical care are available? Will I be able to access necessary medical care or medication abroad?
  • Is the public transportation accessible?
  • How should I respond if people give me unsolicited help?
  • Am I willing to disclose my disability to others?
  • Will my disability prevent me from participating in certain excursions because of inaccessibility?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Start the process early. To ensure that we have sufficient time to coordinate accommodations, start early! We recommend that you start working with all involved parties (including Learning Abroad and the Center for Disability and Access) and begin the application process at least 8 weeks before the application deadline for your program.
  • If you haven’t already done so, register with the CDA.
  • Communicate with Learning Abroad, your advisor in Disability Services, and your academic advisor about your interest in learning Abroad. Let them know about your disability, if you are comfortable doing so, so that as many accommodations as possible can be made. 
    • Ask about any factors that may influence your program selection, relative to both your academic requirements and potential accommodation. This will help you identify programs that fit your goals and needs.
  • It may be helpful to talk to students with similar disabilities that have learned abroad. If there are no previous U of U participants with a disability similar to yours, Learning Abroad may be able to connect you with non-U of U students or travelers who have studied at the location of your choice. You can also use resources like Diversity Abroad’s Destination Guides to help you prepare for your experience abroad.
  • Research how people with disabilities are treated in the country you plan to visit before you go so you have some idea of what to expect. This will help you know what to expect in terms of discrimination, accessibility, and potential accommodations abroad.
  • Request accommodations for your program. The U wants to support your experience abroad. We ask that students request accommodations at least 8 weeks before departure. If you prefer, you can request accommodations before beginning your program application. Please note that the University will do everything possible to meet your accommodation request, but we cannot guarantee that accommodations will be feasible or available for your selected program. Accommodation requests after you arrive in country may not be fulfilled.  The steps below outline the basic process for requesting accommodations for Learning Abroad Programs.
  1. Contact the Center for Disability and Access (CDA) to request accommodations.
  2. Meet with CDA to determine your needs and eligibility. CDA will work with Learning Abroad & faculty or affiliate partners to determine if we can meet your needs.
  3. Work with Learning Abroad, CDA, and faculty/affiliate partners regarding the accommodation onsite.

Campus Resources

External Resources

Learning Abroad has a long tradition of working with veterans, ROTC students, and other military personnel. An experience abroad can provide valuable professional insights as well as financial benefits to these individuals. Additionally, there are sources of funding earmarked specifically for these audiences that can assist with the expense of a Learning Abroad Program.

If you are an ROTC student, active duty service member or reservist, we recommend that you begin the application process early. Active duty, reserve, and Guard members may need special permission from commanding officers or other government agencies to participate, particularly if you hold a clearance or have travel restrictions established by the military. Make sure you let your command know you are planning on traveling abroad. If you intend to use any type of government funding, there may be specific restrictions and a lengthy approval process for using government funds.

There are several resources for Veterans who wish to learn abroad. Students intending to use Voc Rehab or GI Bill funding should contact the University of Utah Veterans Support Center as soon as possible to begin the process of applying through VA.

For more information about our programs, contact Learning Abroad.

Reflection Questions

  • Does the program I am interested in comply with the GI Bill funding special approval process? The special approval process from the VA?
  • Do I need special permission from commanding officers or other government agencies to participate?
  • Am I required to study abroad for my major?
  • Will the courses I complete abroad complete any major or minor requirements?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Start the process early: To ensure that you have sufficient time to receive approval, start early! We recommend that you apply and officially commit to your program at least 8 weeks before the application deadline for your program.
  • Understand the process for getting approval: Learning Abroad Programs will require special approval from the VA. If you want to use GI Bill funding for a Learning Abroad Program, make sure you understand the approval process.
  • Visit Learning Abroad (Union 159): Contact Learning Abroad before you petition for approval from the VA. Learning Abroad has documentation and program descriptions that will help you. VA staff members are not Learning Abroad experts, so it is up to you to provide the information that they need to accurately assess your request for funding!
  • Contact the University of Utah Veterans Support Center on campus early in your planning process: They can assist you in filling out the required paperwork to receive funding through the GI Bill or Voc Rehab.
  • Apply for funding before you are accepted to the program: Be aware that you can begin the approval process for funding before you receive an official acceptance from our office. We recommend that you consider this option to ensure that you have enough time to complete the process.
  • Consider a program that grants U of U credit instead of transfer credit: We recommend that you select a program that offers U of U credit if you wish to use VA funding. While it is possible to get VA funding for programs abroad that offer transfer credit, students have had difficulties receiving approval for these programs.

Campus Resources

External Resources

Identifying as a woman abroad can be an eye-opening experience, because every culture has a different attitude towards women. Before and during your trip, find out about your host country’s cultural values and behaviors regarding women.

Across many countries, traditional gender roles often inform how women are expected to act, dress, and even speak to others. What might be perceived as common behavior for women in the U.S. may be misinterpreted in other countries. 

For example, how does religion play a role in how women are expected to dress? Can smiling or making direct eye contact with strangers imply something more than just a friendly gesture? If men stare and catcall while you walk down the street, how do you react? 

You will also want to find out what the local attitudes are towards American women. There is a preconception abroad that American women are “easy” or “loose.” Sometimes, what is considered "acceptable behavior" for women in the U.S. has sexual connotations in other cultures, so it's important to talk with other women who have been to your host country to know what type of behavior is most culturally appropriate.

If you are thinking about being sexually active abroad, inform yourself about STD prevention, birth control, and safe sex practices in that country. In addition, how is sex outside of marriage perceived? Do the locals shun women who have sex outside of marriage?

Women also face unique health challenges abroad. Birth control can be heavily regulated and hard to obtain in foreign countries. If you use contraceptives, you should be sure to take a sufficient supply to last your entire program. We also recommend that you research whether or not you need to take enough feminine hygiene supplies to last the duration of your program. The availability of these items varies greatly depending on the host country and destination. In many countries, these items are not available on the shelf in a drug store. In some cases, you may have to specifically ask a clerk or pharmacist for the supplies you need to buy. Women studying outside of Western Europe need to be aware that tampons may not be available at all in your host country. If you intend to use tampons, we encourage you to take them with you.

You may become frustrated with local behaviors and attitudes towards women, especially if you feel it prevents you from being yourself. This is understandable when experiencing another culture. To avoid unwanted attention, dress and act like the local women. This can be a great opportunity to befriend local women to learn directly from them about ways to dress or act as they do.

Throughout your trip, remember to put your safety first and always be aware of your surroundings. By observing the locals, you’ll learn about gender roles in another culture. You can also use resources like Diversity Abroad’s Destination Guides to help you prepare for your experience abroad.

If you would like additional information about women travelers, we encourage you to stop by the Learning Abroad (Union 159). We are happy to discuss your concerns and provide insights from our own experience.

For more information about gender identity abroad, consider visiting our LGBTQIA section.

Reflection Questions

  • Is it safe for me to go out alone? at night? Are there areas or places I should avoid? 
  • How are women expected to behave? 
  • How do men treat women? 
  • What are the cultural norms regarding friendship and dating? 
  • Do people in my host country have stereotypes of American women?

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Do research on gender roles and their history beforehand. 
  • Put your safety first and be aware of your surroundings. 
  • Dress and act like the local women to avoid standing out. 
  • Be aware of cultural differences, including body language that may be misinterpreted in your host culture. 
  • Talk with other women who have learned abroad to find out more about their experiences.

Campus Resources

External Resources

Last Updated: 5/22/19