As you explore your study abroad options, you may want to consider all aspects of your identity and how these could play a role in your experience abroad.
The Study Abroad Team encourages you to do some research into the culture, attitudes and beliefs, customs, and more on a host country before selecting a program. We want you to be able to participate as much as possible in the host culture, and feel adequately prepared for your upcoming experience, which can be both personally challenging and rewarding. Below are examples of how different identities may be impacted while abroad, various resources, student testimonials, as well as questions or topics to consider before studying abroad.
The Study Abroad Team is in no way trying to speak on behalf of all identities, or on behalf of all students who hold any of the identities below. This information is based on our experiences, research, and feedback we collect from those who go abroad. The Study Abroad Team is always open to learning and expanding our knowledge when it comes to best serving our students, their interests, and making study abroad experiences better for all.
If there is an identity not yet reflected that you would like to see on this page, or if you hold one of these identities and feel any changes should be made to more accurately reflect your experiences abroad, please contact us!
Students with disabilities can and do study abroad! The Study Abroad Team encourages all ISU students to explore study abroad options. Advisors are available to help you determine if a specific program you are interested in meets your academic and personal goals while being able to accommodate your needs.
Just as cultures, languages, and beliefs vary across the world, disability accommodations do too. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) only applies to institutions in the United States. When traveling abroad, you may experience differences with daily physical and/or academic limitations that you may not have previously experienced within the United States. In many cases, there may not be elevators, designated crosswalks, wheelchair access, or academic resource centers on your host institution’s campus, as other countries provide and view accommodations in different ways. It is important to define your study abroad goals, consider how you will manage these differences abroad, and seek as much information as possible before you select your study abroad program. We recommend researching the program location to get a feel for what life will be like in the host country. Learning about the culture, attitudes, and beliefs around disabilities can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad. The key to a successful experience is advanced planning!
Students of all ethnicities and races can and do study abroad! Like many things, ethnic and racial experiences vary by culture. While you are abroad, you may be part of a minority or majority group for the first time in your life or have to think about your ethnic or racial identity in a different way. Due to cultural differences, you could encounter both positive and negative assumptions, stereotypes, and/or opinions from others you may have not previously experienced.
For instance, if you are visiting a country where you have ethnic roots, you may have to consider the local norms and expectations in ways other students with different backgrounds may not. Based on appearance alone, certain assumptions about you could be made. You may be expected to behave or dress a certain way, speak the local language, and you may also be inadvertently identified with one group or another. In countries with pre-existing ethnic or racial conflicts, it is also possible your identity might be assumed to align with one side of a conflict. Perhaps you will be considered American first, and your ethnic or racial identity will be secondary. It is also important to recognize your own cultural assumptions and expectations as you enter your host country.
Being aware of the varying perspectives toward ethnic and racial identities around the world can help you be ready for potential situations you may encounter when going abroad. Researching your host country to determine the attitudes and beliefs around ethnic and racial identities, the ethnic and racial composition, and the history of ethnic and racial relations can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad. The Center for Global Education's PLATO Project, All Abroad, and the CIA World Factbook are great resources to get you started.
Being a First-Generation Student means you have the unique experience of being the first in your family to pursue a college degree. You also have the opportunity to be the first in your family to study abroad! Being the first to have these experiences can come with many questions and concerns. Common questions or concerns include how to fund your study abroad experience, how to gain familial support, and how to ensure you stay on track academically. Thankfully, you do not have to navigate this alone!
We recommend speaking with your Academic Advisor, your TRIO/Student Support Services Advisor (if applicable), as well as the Study Abroad Team for any questions you might have. Your Academic Advisor can help you to determine when is the best time for you to study abroad based on your plan of study. Next, we advise you to look through our list of program offerings to determine which options might be of interest to you and align with your goals. Knowing your goals and reasons for studying abroad can help you narrow down the choices and select a program that best fits your needs.
Before applying to a program, we recommend reviewing the Estimated Program Budget. These can be found on each program’s brochure page or under the Cost section of our website. This will give you an idea of the program expenses from start to finish. Once you have found the program that fits your needs, we suggest talking with Financial Aid and applying for available scholarships. We also recommend researching the program’s location to get a feel for what life will be like in the host country. Learning about the language, culture, monetary system, and more can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad.
The Gender Considerations Abroad section is intended for, but not limited to, those who identify as cis-gender men and women, and those whose gender expression falls within the gender binary. Those who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, and/or non-binary have additional considerations in the LGBTQIA+ Students Abroad section.
Just as cultures, languages, and beliefs vary across the world, gender roles, expectations, and customary behavior shift as well. You may be treated differently or be expected to treat others a certain way based on your perceived gender identity. Your behavior in certain situations could be seen as different than the typical behavior of someone of the same gender. You could also feel uncomfortable with some forms of acceptable behavior. It is important to be familiar with the social norms of your host country. The Study Abroad Team recommends researching the program’s location to get a feel for what life will be like in the host country. Learning about the language, culture, monetary system, attitudes, and beliefs towards various topics, and more can help you feel better prepared to go abroad.
In some cultures, men may be expected to behave in a “traditional” machismo attitude. This can include actions such as catcalling women which may be difficult to adjust to. In other cultures, men may be more open with their feelings and affection towards each other which may also be difficult to adjust to. It is important to respect the cultural norms of your host country. While keeping in mind your safety, you should not feel as if you must behave a certain way, especially if that behavior makes you uncomfortable.
Women may also experience different expectations. These differences may be in regard to behavior, dress, actions and abilities, and more. What may be common in the U.S. could have unintended consequences abroad and could be seen as inappropriate in your host country. In some cultures, women may be expected to remain in the background, dress modestly, not make eye contact, and hold men at a higher standard. In other cultures, women may be treated similarly to how they are treated in the U.S. While the Study Abroad Team encourages all students to study abroad, your health and safety are our top concern. Being aware of how other women around you dress, behave, and speak can help you make informed decisions while abroad. It is important to respect the cultural norms of your host country. While keeping in mind your safety, you should not feel as if you must behave a certain way, especially if that behavior makes you uncomfortable.
Yes, international students at ISU are able to study abroad! Before applying to study abroad, please contact International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS). ISSS will be able to advise you on any limitations your current visa may have, the required steps for maintaining fulltime status at ISU, and any other important information you should know before making this decision.
The Study Abroad Team is here guide you through our different program options, help you determine which programs will work with your major, and answer any questions you may have about life abroad. When searching for a program, it is important the program you choose will best meet your academic and personal goals. Knowing what you hope to achieve while abroad can help narrow down the choices. We also recommend researching program locations to get a feel for what life will be like in the host country. Learning about the culture, language, monetary system, religion, and beliefs can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad. Start planning your study abroad experience early! Being prepared ahead of time can ensure a smooth process and may help to decrease any potential roadblocks.
Yes, students who identify as LGBTQIA+ can and do study abroad! Before going abroad, it is important to note every country has different laws, policies, and cultural attitudes toward people who identify as or are perceived to be, LGBTQIA+. Be sure to take this into account when selecting a study abroad location and program so that you can have a positive, safe, and rewarding experience. We recommend researching program locations to get a feel for what life will be like in this country. Learning about the culture, attitudes, and beliefs around the LBGTQIA+ community can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) offers the Map on Sexual Orientation Laws in the World to help travelers understand the level of protections a country has and their attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community. Rainbow Europe and Global Gayz also provide breakdowns of international LGBTQIA+ rights. The University of South Florida has also published an extensive LGBT Student Guide to Education Abroad which takes a look at various locations around the world and shares the political, social and legal climate towards the LGBT community in these areas.
While the Study Abroad Team encourages all ISU students to explore study abroad options, your health and safety are of our top concern. If you are currently struggling with mental health or chronic illness it is still possible to study abroad, but it is important to make sure all necessary support services will be available to you during your time abroad. Some countries and/or host institutions may not be as open-minded nor able to provide support services and/or the accommodations you are accustomed to.
If you have any conditions requiring medication(s), on-going treatment(s), or monitoring, you should speak with a medical professional about what going abroad would look like for you and your health prior to planning your study abroad experience. We also recommend researching program locations to get a feel for what life will be like in various host countries. Learning about the culture, attitudes, and beliefs around mental health and chronic illness can help you feel better prepared to go abroad.
Yes, military and veteran students can study abroad! We have many different program options to fit various majors and desired durations. For maximum funding opportunities, the Study Abroad Team recommends exploring our Direct Enroll – Exchange or short-term Faculty-Led programs. We also recommend researching program locations to get a feel for what life will be like in the host country. Learning about the culture, attitudes, and beliefs around military association can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad.
If you are currently serving in the military (Active Military, Military Reserves, or National Guard), you will need to communicate and work with your unit a minimum of 6 months ahead of time so you and your unit can develop a plan, be better prepared, and determine the best course of action. ROTC students should speak with their reporting officer.
Military and veteran students attempting to use the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) for funding are advised to read the information below regarding access to funding as it relates to study abroad. You can also check out the Post-9/11 GI Bill: Study Abroad Program Factsheet provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for scenarios on how funding and fees might be covered for study abroad.
Under Chapter 33, the VA could pay:
Under Chapter 33, the VA will not pay:
For any questions or concerns about using the Post-9/11 GI Bill for study abroad, contact:
Yes, non-traditional students can study abroad! However, as a non-traditional student, you may face challenges when it comes to studying abroad. You may have obligations and responsibilities, such as a full or part-time job, financial obligations, limited time available to be abroad, home maintenance, you may be a parent or have responsibilities to other family members. Yet, with all these potential obstacles, you are willing and able to overcome them for a chance to further your education and potentially your career and create lifelong memories. The Study Abroad Team encourages all ISU students to explore study abroad options. Advisors are available to help you determine if a specific program you are interested in meets your academic and personal goals while being able to accommodate your life outside of school.
Yes, students of different religions and spiritual backgrounds are able to study abroad! Before going abroad, it is important to note the level of commitment to religious diversity and freedom can vary by country. We recommend researching the religious and spiritual beliefs of your host country. Learning about the culture, language(s), and attitudes towards religion can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad. The CIA World Factbook, Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project, and The Pluralism Project are great resources to get you started.
Yes, student-athletes at ISU are able to study abroad! Many student-athletes believe they are unable to participate in a study abroad experience due to various athletic obligations. However, according to the NCAA roughly 27% of Division I athletes participate in study abroad! At ISU we offer programs during all academic terms for varying lengths to best suit all students. The variety of our program options allow even those with the most rigorous schedules an opportunity to study abroad. For example, our academic break programs take place during fall break, winter break, spring break, and summer. These breaks are a popular time for students to study abroad and generally have the least interference with athletics. Many of these programs are open to all majors and minors allowing all students the opportunity to study abroad. If interested, we also offer semester and academic year programs for students wanting to study abroad for a longer duration.
Students who hold identities other than or in addition to those above, and/or are involved in extracurriculars are able to study abroad! Many students believe they are unable to participate in a study abroad experience due to various obligations or fear that they will miss out on experiences at ISU or in other facets of daily life. Don’t worry! We offer a variety of program opportunities throughout the year including academic breaks, with program durations ranging from 10 days to 10 months. The summer term is very popular for ISU students wanting to study abroad and still participate in extracurriculars during the fall and spring terms. We recommend researching program locations to get a feel for what life will be like in the host country. Learning about the culture, language, monetary system, religion, and beliefs can help you feel better prepared for your upcoming experience abroad. Study Abroad Advisors are available to help you determine which programs align best with your interests and answer any questions you may have.