Skip to main content

Diversity and Identity Abroad

The University of California Education Abroad Program aims to celebrate and support the many identities of UC students who enrich their education through study abroad. UCEAP recognizes that your social identity(ies) can influence, impact, or be impacted by a study abroad experience and believe that it’s important to give careful consideration to these topics ahead of time.

You can find resources and questions for you to consider as you plan for your study abroad experience. Your campus study abroad advisor is also a valuable resource if you have questions or concerns.

 

Student Identities

Questions you should ask yourself

  • What is my host culture’s attitude toward individuals with disabilities (mobility, psychiatric, hearing, vision, learning, etc.)?
  • In what ways should I prepare to adjust to living in a foreign country? (re: housing, food, culture, language, etc.)
  • If I am the only person with a disability in my program, how will that impact my experience abroad, if at all?
  • How many on-site resources (offices, staff, hospitals, counseling centers, note taking assistants, books on tape, etc.) are offered in my host city/university?
  • How different is the academic environment, and is there flexibility for longer test time, reduced workloads, mandatory excursions, etc.?
  • Overall, what is the physical environment and terrain like of my host city and host university?
  • Is transportation (bus, train, airports) available and accessible?
  • Are there accessible housing options that are close to classes? If there are dining areas, laundry rooms, and study areas, are these accessible as well?
  • Are bathrooms in key areas (classroom, housing, libraries) accessible?
  • Are local businesses (banks, shopping centers, markets, grocery stores) accessible?
  • What support systems are necessary to help me overcome barriers or to cope with bias related incidents?
  • What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad, and while abroad), and how will I overcome them?
  • If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at my home institution, will I utilize resources abroad? Where can I find the resources I need? What is the financial cost of these resources and what does my insurance cover?

Resources

Questions you should ask yourself

  • What is my host culture’s attitude toward individuals with disabilities (mobility, psychiatric, hearing, vision, learning, etc.)?
  • In what ways should I prepare to adjust to living in a foreign country? (re: housing, food, culture, language, etc.)
  • If I am the only person with a disability in my program, how will that impact my experience abroad, if at all?
  • How many on-site resources (offices, staff, hospitals, counseling centers, note taking assistants, books on tape, etc.) are offered in my host city/university?
  • How different is the academic environment, and is there flexibility for longer test time, reduced workloads, mandatory excursions, etc.?
  • Overall, what is the physical environment and terrain like of my host city and host university?
  • Is transportation (bus, train, airports) available and accessible?
  • Are there accessible housing options that are close to classes? If there are dining areas, laundry rooms, and study areas, are these accessible as well?
  • Are bathrooms in key areas (classroom, housing, libraries) accessible?
  • Are local businesses (banks, shopping centers, markets, grocery stores) accessible?
  • What support systems are necessary to help me overcome barriers or to cope with bias related incidents?
  • What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad, and while abroad), and how will I overcome them?
  • If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at my home institution, will I utilize resources abroad? Where can I find the resources I need? What is the financial cost of these resources and what does my insurance cover?

Resources

Questions you should ask yourself

Location
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Will the location serve my mental health needs?
Distance
  • How will I feel being far away from my loved ones?
  • In case of an emergency, will I have the people that I need around for the support I seek?
  • How will I be able to stay in communication with my loved ones and/or mental health care provider?
Activities
  • What extracurricular activities will be expected of me during my study abroad or away program?
  • How might these activities affect my mental wellness?
Medications
  • Is the medication I need to support myself legal in my study abroad or away destination?
  • What are the protocols and paperwork needed to have this medication taken with me?
  • What do I need to have my doctor or health care provider prescribe me enough medication to last me for my study abroad or away program?
  • What are my options if I need more of the same medication?
  • Where and how should I pack this medication?
Identities
  • How might my identities be perceived while away?
  • How might this affect my everyday interactions with others? How might this affect my mental wellness?
Cultural Differences
  • How will my pursuit of mental wellness be perceived while away?
  • What are some cultural differences or factors that might affect my mental wellness?
Housing
  • Will I be placed in a housing situation that will meet my accommodation needs?
  • Will I be allowed to find my own housing situation? If so, will I have assistance in searching for housing?
  • If I will be placed with a host family, will they be understanding of my mental wellness and/ or accommodation needs? What can I do if they are not?

Resources

Questions you should ask yourself

Community
  • How important is it to me to find other LGBTQ students or friends while studying abroad, and how prepared am I to create these relationships?
  • Will I be able to maintain these relationships upon my return to the US?
  • Are there open LGBTQ communities in the country? Or at the local university?
  • If a sense of LGBTQ community is important to me, how will I manage the potential difficulties of not finding one while abroad?
Program Resources
  • Are there resources available for LGBTQ people or LGBTQ-friendly centers in the host country?
  • Does my study abroad program offer LGBTQ-friendly housing?
  • Does my study abroad program offer gender neutral housing facilities i.e. bathrooms and dormitories?
  • Does my study abroad program discuss LGBTQ considerations during orientation?
  • What resources are available to me upon my return to campus?
  • What documents indicating a gender/sex marker will I need for traveling and studying abroad, and would it be useful to change the gender/sex marker on any of those documents before traveling?
  • How open will I be about my sexual orientation, gender expression and pronouns with my teachers, peers, friends, host family, and others?
Local Attitudes
  • What are the cultural and local attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country?
  • What do cultural expressions of gender and sexuality look like in the host country?
  • What do gender relations look like in the host country?
  • What are the behavioral norms within the local LGBTQ community?
Legality
  • Are there any restrictions on freedom of association or expression for LGBTQ people?
  • What are the laws regarding identity and travel documentation?
  • Are there hate crime laws in place that provide certain protections for LGBTQ people?
  • What is the legality of same-sex sexual behavior?

Resources

Questions you should ask yourself

Planning
  • Why am I pursuing study abroad? What do I hope to accomplish from this experience?
  • If no one in my family has ever studied abroad, who can help me answer their questions as I plan my experience?
  • If this is my first time abroad, is it important to retain some cultural similarities with the US? Or am I looking for as different an experience as possible?
  • How important is it for me to be geographically close to my friends and family while I am abroad? Example: Do I feel more comfortable going somewhere closer to the United States, like Mexico or the Caribbean, or would I consider somewhere farther away like India or Australia?
  • How will my study abroad experience fit into my academic plan at UCLA (major, minor, elective, or GE, etc.)? Tip: An academic advisor can help you with this!
  • Am I looking for a program that offers practical experience, like an internship, as part of the program?
  • How will I use my study abroad experiences in the future, either personally, academically, professionally, or otherwise?
Support Network, Family, and Friends
  • How will I explain the study abroad process to family and friends?
  • How can I explain to my family that a study abroad experience can contribute to the achievement of my academic and career goals?
  • How will I involve my family in my decision to study abroad, if at all? Will they be financing any portion of my study abroad experience?
  • How will I keep in touch with family and friends while I am abroad?
  • What resources are available for my family and friends?
Funding
  • How do I plan to finance my time abroad?
  • Are there any other expenses beyond the cost of the study abroad program that I need to consider (i.e., passport, plane tickets, and meals, etc.)?
  • If I receive Financial Aid, does my program have any upfront costs that I would be required to pay before I receive my Financial Aid package for study abroad (i.e., visa/residence permit application costs, housing deposits, host university fees, etc.)?
  • How does the cost of attendance for study abroad compare to my cost of attendance here at UCLA?
  • What are any additional funding sources that can help finance study abroad? (Hint: See the “General Resources” section for funding options.)

Resources

Questions you should ask yourself

  • How long do I want to be abroad?
  • What type of travel documentation will my family need?
  • Will my program or host country be accommodating for families or dependents?
  • What will my housing situation be like? Can my family or dependents live in student housing?
  • What vaccinations will I and my family or dependents be required to get?
  • How will I get health insurance coverage for my family or dependents while on the program?
  • How will bringing dependents or family impact my budget?
  • Is there day care available in my host country or region?
  • Can I enroll my child in school in my host country or region?
  • Does my program have excursions or activities?
  • What medication does my family or dependent need? What paperwork should I have?
  • What types of foods will my host country or region have available? Baby food, allergies, etc.
  • What are the attitudes toward children, families, or single parents in my host country or region?

Tips to Studying Abroad With Family or Dependents

  • Program terms and types: A good fit is key to success when taking dependents with you on UCEAP.
    • Summer programs may be a good fit if you have school-aged children who can travel with you during their summer break. However, many summer programs are also intensive, meaning long days where you’re attending classes and/or participating in required program activities and excursions.
    • Quarter, semester, or yearlong programs may work well if your goal is to have a long-term, stable experience immersing you and your dependent(s) in a foreign country or region. Research expenses, childcare, and school options as needed. Also consider the impact that an extended time away from home may have on you and your dependent(s).
    • Multi-site programs may require different travel documents and vaccination requirements for you and your dependent(s) if you’re traveling to multiple countries or regions. These programs may require finding more short-term housing accommodations in multiple locations.
  • Preparing your dependent for going abroad: Culture shock is a common experience for anyone traveling abroad, including you and your dependent(s). While living abroad with you will enrich their understanding of the world and different cultures, parts of the experience may be scary. Before traveling, consider reading books or sharing media with them about where they will be living. Be sure to have open conversations with them about their feelings and do your best to reassure them you are there to support them.
  • Cultural differences: Each culture has its own values and perceptions about parents, children, and families. Depending on your study abroad location, you may be perceived differently than you are used to. This may also vary depending on being a single parent, having a spouse, or based on one’s gender identity. This may also be an opportunity to form special bonds with people you meet abroad, since family tends to be a strong cultural value across the world that manifests in unique ways. Research family values in the countries or regions where you’re considering studying abroad so you may prepare yourself and dependents for cultural differences.

Tips to Studying Abroad Without Your Dependents

  • Program Terms and Types
    • Summer is a common term for student parents to travel without their children because of its shorter duration. These programs are often intensive and students are busy during long days with classroom and/or program activities.
    • Quarter, semester, or yearlong programs offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new environment and/or develop your language skills. Oftentimes, it’s more cost-effective to study abroad for a quarter, semester, or year versus a summer, because summer is an optional term, and there tends to be less or no institutional aid available for financial aid students in the summer.
    • Multi-site programs involve more travel and living in short-term group housing situations, so these may be easier to navigate while traveling independently.
  • Preparing for your absence: It’s normal for you and your dependent(s) to experience anxiety as your departure date approaches. Preparing in advance may ease the transition for everyone. Share maps of where you will be traveling, teach them about the culture, and watch media from your destination country or region, so they can develop an understanding of the experience you‘ll have abroad.
  • Keeping in touch while abroad: Prolonged absence from your dependent(s) can be difficult. Consider arranging a schedule of communications in advance. Google Duo, FaceTime, Signal, WhatsApp, Zoom, and more apps are available abroad for you to stay connected to home.
  • Emotional support: Counseling and psychological support services are available for you at your UC campus before you depart and through UCEAP while you are abroad.

Resources

Questions you should ask yourself

Understanding the host culture
  • What is/are the dominant religion(s) in my host country?
  • How much do I know about the religion(s) of my host country and the role religion plays in society? (Tip: some of the general resources on this webpage can help you learn more about this topic.)
  • What is the attitude of people in my host country toward other religions not practiced by the majority?
  • How are atheists or agnostics perceived by my host culture?
  • What places of worship and/or religious communities exist in my host country?
  • Are there any religious holidays that are celebrated as public events in my host country?
Engaging with religion abroad
  • Will I be a part of the religious majority or minority in my host country?
  • How should I respectfully visit religious places of worship to learn about my host culture (i.e., dress code, conduct, etc.)?
  • What are some ways I can respect the religion in my host country and participate in cultural events, even if I don’t practice that religion?
  • How are religious holidays observed and celebrated in my host country? Will I want to or be willing to participate even if this religion is different from my own?
  • If I plan to live in a homestay while abroad, am I open to living in a homestay with a similar or diverse religious background from my own?
Practicing religion abroad
  • Are there laws regarding religion and freedom of religious expression that may differ from what I experience in the US (e.g., proselytizing/evangelizing and certain religious symbols or clothing are banned in some countries)?
  • Is it safe for me to wear religious symbols or clothing in my host country? How does that compare to the level of safety I may or may not experience in the US?
  • If I am planning to practice my religion abroad, are there any places of worship I can visit or local religious groups I can join? If not, how will I plan to practice my religion independently?
  • Will my religion’s holidays be observed in my host country? If they are not, how do I plan to observe them in my own way?
  • If I have religious dietary restrictions, will they be accommodated in my host country?

Resources

Questions you should ask yourself

  • Do I receive financial aid? If so, how does my aid work for my program?
  • Does aid work differently during the summer?
  • What is the cost of my program? What is included in that cost?
  • What is the cost of living in my host country or region? Meals, local transportation, housing, etc.
  • What will I pay out of pocket?
  • Can I apply for scholarships?
  • What funding sources do I rely on that I may not have access to abroad (like a job)?
  • Which program locations have a lower cost of living?
  • What can I do now to prepare to go abroad (save money, plan my financial aid package, apply for scholarships, etc.)?
  • Do the student accommodations include meals or have kitchens to save on food costs?
  • What transportation will I need to use within my host city? Can I walk between campus/home or will I have to use the subway, bus, or taxi?
  • Are student discounts prevalent in this study abroad location?
  • Will I want to do any personal travel on the weekends?
  • Am I aware of international exchange rates and fees associated with using my banking card(s) abroad?
  • How will I feel if my peers travel frequently and I cannot afford to do so? Will it negatively affect my experience if I am unable to travel as often as my peers?

Resources

General Resources

UC Campus DEI Resources for Study Abroad

Explore information on diversity, equity, and inclusion in study abroad on UC campuses.