Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience that allows students to learn about world cultures while simultaneously exploring their own culture and what it means to be an American or even a student at Appalachian State University. As an LGBT student, there are some additional things to consider when planning a study abroad experience.
- Research: Get to know the climate of your potential host country by exploring LGBT travel guides and internet resources in order to gain a better understanding of the social perceptions the locals have surrounding members of the LGBT community.
- Understand the context and customs of your host country: Similar expressions or behaviors that we exhibit here in the United States may have a vastly different meaning in a foreign country. In some areas of the world, expressions of friendship may be different than those expressed in the United States; for example, in several Middle Eastern countries, hand-holding among males is a sign of friendship and respect, not necessarily an implication of sexual orientation. Before embarking upon a study abroad experience, students should understand that in some areas of the world, expressions of one’s sexual orientation is frowned upon.
- Learn the laws of your host country: Once outside of the United States, students are no longer protected by U.S. law. This means that students are required to follow the laws of their host country when it comes to engaging in same-sex activities. Students should familiarize themselves with local laws and customs so as to make informed, safe decisions on how to express their identity abroad.
Overall, it is important for students to reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions that a particular foreign country utilizes in order to ease the adjustment process; at the same time, students should consider how their own sexual identity may affect outward relationships with local community members. Some questions that LGBT students considering studying abroad may want to consider are:
- What are the gender relations like in my proposed host country?
- What are some cultural attitudes/social perceptions towards the LGBT community in my proposed host country?
- Are there any safety concerns to be aware of with this particular location?
- What are the typical male and female social behaviors in my proposed host country?
Below is a list of resources that LGBT students should consider as they are looking into studying abroad. If any issues arise while abroad, students are encouraged to reach out to the Office of International Education and Development or the Office of Intercultural Student Affairs. Even though legally, once abroad, Appalachian State University's scope of power is limited, we are here to provide resources that can make this transition as smooth as possible.
- Appalachian State University Henderson Springs LGBT Center
- Intercultural Student Affairs
- Maps/Sexual Orientation Laws: a color-coded map of the world as it relates to sexual orientation
- Out Right Action International: worldwide advocacy website for the LGBT community
- Fund for Education Abroad: information about the Rainbow Scholarship for LGBT study abroad students
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association: provides country-specific information related to the legal rights and the social climate of LGBT individuals abroad
- Rainbow SIG: a special interest group aimed at supporting the LGBT community and combating homophobia worldwide
- LGBT Scholarships: a listing of scholarships available to LGBT students considering study abroad
- Diversity Abroad: a website devoted to encouraging students to study abroad and how to consider their identities when selecting a program.