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General Resources on Diversity and Study Abroad
Study Abroad for All: Identifying, Recruiting & Supporting Underrepresented Groups (NAFSA)
Race / Ethnicity and Study Abroad
Depending on your race and/or ethnicity, you may be concerned about facing potential racial bias and prejudice without the comfort of your usual support system. On the other hand, you may be looking forward to being part of the majority population for the first time in your life. Or, you may be planning a self-discovery sojourn to the country or region of your family's heritage. Whatever reasons you have for studying abroad, you will find that adjusting abroad can be a positive growth experience. It may not always be fun, but it can present a unique learning opportunity that will serve you well in the future.
10 Reasons for Hispanic-American Students to Study Abroad
Gender and Study Abroad
Journeywoman, a travel resource for women
University of Michigan International Center - a resource for women abroad
Bond, Marybeth, Traveler's Tales: A Woman's World. 1995.
Henry de Tessan, Christina, ed. Expat: Women's True Tales of Life Abroad (Seal Press, 2002)
Lee, Elaine, Go Girl! The Black Woman's Book of Travel and Adventure. 1997. 8th Mountain Press.
Morris, Mary and Larry O'Connor. Maiden Voyages; Writings of Women Travelers (NY: Vintage Books, 1993)
Morris, Mary, Nothing to Declare. 1991. Penguin Books.
Morris, Mary, Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin. 1991.
Piet-Pelon, N.J. & B. Hornby Women's Guide to Overseas Living. 1992. Intercultural Press.
Swan, Sheila and Laufer, Peter. Safety and Security for Women Who Travel (San Francisco: Traveler's Tales Inc., 1998)
Van Gelder, Lindsay and Pamela Robin Brandt. Are You Two... Together? A Gay and Lesbian Travel Guide to Europe (NY: Random House, 1991)
Zepatos, Thalia. A Journey of One's Own: Uncommon Advice for the Independent Woman Traveler (The Eighth Mountain Press, 2003)
Sexual Orientation and Study Abroad
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students should expect to face many of the challenges typical of their heterosexual peers. In fact, some study abroad advisers have noted that GLBT students are better-equipped to deal with common cultural barriers abroad because they may already be familiar with the role of "minority" or "outsider" in adolescence. Levels of tolerance, acceptance, and support for GLBT individuals vary greatly from culture to culture. GLBT students will find their experiences more successful if they prepare themselves by becoming educated on the legal and cultural issues facing GLBT people in their host culture.
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission with country-specific information
The Damron Mens Travel Guide 2006 (Damron Men's Travel Guide) Over 12,000 listings of gay-friendly businesses in the US, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, South America, and most European capitals.
Damron Women's Traveller 2006 Over 9,000 listings cover North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and major capitals of Europe, noting women-run businesses, vegetarian menus, wheelchair access, multiracial clientele, and much more.
Gay Travel A to Z: The World of Gay and Lesbian Travel Options at your Fingertips 2001 The most complete gay and lesbian travel options available anywhere are detailed in this comprehensive guide produced by a gay publisher who has exclusively specialized in gay and lesbian travel since 1980.
Frommer's Gay and Lesbian Europe, Third Edition (2003) Offers inside tips on the gay and lesbian scene in every locale, plus practical information on hotels, dining, and attractions-a must for the 74 percent of U.S. gays and lesbians who took an international trip in 2001
Are You Two...Together? A Gay and Lesbian Travel Guide to Europe. 1991. Lindsay Van Gelder and Pamela Brandt, Random House.
Out in the World: Gay and Lesbian Life from Buenos Aires to Bangkok. 1992. Neil Miller.
Sexual Orientation and Identity: Heterosexual, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Journeys. 1995. Heather Pierce and Carol Wishik.
The Third Pink Book: A Global View of Lesbian and Gay Liberation and Oppression. 1993. Art Hendricks.
The World Out There: Becoming Part of the Gay and Lesbian Community. 1996. Michael Ford.
Understand the context, customs, and attitudes in your host country.
In some other areas of the world,expressions of friendship (such as eye contact, a smile, touching, and physical proximity) may be quite different than those expressedamong your U.S. peers and cause you to experience confusion oruncertainty about who may or may not be GLBT. For example, in several Middle Eastern countries hand-holding among males is a custom of special friendship and respect and does not necessarily imply homosexuality. Some questions to ask include:
Learn the laws of your host country regarding GLBT issues, same-sex sexual behavior and expressions of GLBT identity and community.
Think about changes that may occur when you come home.
Study Abroad for Students With Disabilities
Students with disabilities face unique challenges and growth opportunities in the study abroad experience. However, they may find themselves better equipped to deal with these challenges due to past experiences being part of an underserved group. With proper planning and communication, this experience can be tremendously rewarding for the student and host community. Each culture differs in the way people perceive and accommodate levels of ability. For these reasons, it is important to do the following:
For more information about traveling and studying abroad with a disability, please visit the following sites:
Religion and Study Abroad
Spirituality and religion play an important role in many of our students' lives, and in the lives of the host community members. One of the most exciting and interesting things about experiencing another culture is developing a multi-dimensional understanding of religious traditions and beliefs that differ from our own. To have a successful experience, an open mind regarding religious pluralism and diversity is important for students studying abroad. It is important to explore the religious traditions and beliefs of your host culture, even if the religion in similar to your own. Note as well, that many cultures have more than one religious belief represented.
Special Diets and Study Abroad
If you have special eating habits, are committed to a particular way of eating (vegetarian, vegan, kosher, macrobiotic, etc.), or have health issues or food allergies that result in a special diet, you will need to research your study abroad destination carefully before assuming that the food you need will be available. Also keep in mind that in many areas of the world certain special diets, such as vegetarian, are not common and in some cases, not eating food that has been prepared for you, even if for dietary reasons, is considered rude.
If, for cultural, religious or personal reasons you do not eat certain types of food you should contact your study abroad program administrator to see whether or not your dietary needs can be accommodated. Rather than packing granola, peanut butter, and tuna instead of clothes so you can eat “properly” while abroad—or spending your precious time complaining about the food—learn what is and isn’t available that so you can experience the food of the culture you're living in while at the same time having your dietary needs met. Being flexible, whenever possible, about what you eat will make your study abroad experience easier and more enriching.
Although discrimination is illegal in many countries, it may still occur. If you believe that you are being discriminated against, please discuss it with the resident director, program leader, or on-site staff.
Discrimination is built on negative stereotypes and prejudices that are influenced by a variety of factors, including the media. Although these attitudes may be frustrating at times, remember that one of the main reasons for your participation in study abroad is to learn about other cultures. This includes both the positive and negative aspects. What you perceive as a discriminatory act or remark may not necessarily be viewed as such in the context of the host culture, but rather as a cultural difference.