The International Education Office (IEO) aims to celebrate and support the many identities of our students who enrich their education through study abroad. We recognize 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.

To help you along, we encourage you to visit the pages linked below that include resources and questions for you to consider as you plan for your study abroad experience. As always, we invite you to speak with your IEO advisor about these and other topics – we are here to help!

Current and Former Foster Youth / Guardian Scholars

The UCLA International Education Office recognizes that current and former foster youth may face unique barriers to accessing study abroad opportunities. As you prepare for studying abroad, we are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point. As always, your IEO advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources.

If you are former foster youth who is also a first-generation college student, we encourage you to visit the First Generation College Students section on this webpage to find additional information and resources for studying abroad.

Questions to ask yourself and/or your IEO Advisor

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?
  • If I run into financial difficulty while abroad, what resources and networks do I have or can I develop to navigate that?

Support Networks

  • If I am in need of emotional support throughout my time abroad, who are the people I can count on to provide that?
  • Who will be my point of contact, or support system, in my host country?

Tips

  • Check with your major, academic, and counseling departments to inquire about potential scholarship opportunities for students with unique backgrounds.
  • Find someone from home who you can stay in touch with while abroad, particularly as it relates to your emotional and financial support. In case of emergencies, knowing who you can count on will serve you well.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help. Studying abroad can be overwhelming and it is important that you know you are not alone.

General Resources

  • UCLA Student Stories: Check out Montana’s or Tylar’s video to hear from former foster youth who studied abroad.
  • Talk to your IEO advisor, who can help you process some of these questions and access resources below.
  • Check out the “Finances” tab on the UCLA IEO website for information about financial aid and scholarships. Every year, UCEAP participants who identify as current or former foster youth can apply for the UCEAP Guardian Scholarship, which was created to support students in this community studying abroad.
  • UCLA Bruin Guardian Scholars: Housed in the Bruin Resource Center, this program was created to provide support and resources to UCLA students who identify as current and former foster youth. They host monthly community building events and workshops that assist students in gaining life skills and learning how to navigate UCLA and the broader community.

First Generation College Students

As the first person in your immediate family who will graduate from college, you may feel like studying abroad adds another layer of complexity to your educational experience. We are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point.  As always, your IEO advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources.

Questions to ask yourself and/or your IEO Advisor

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? ​

Family & 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.)

General Resources

LGBTQ Students

As an opportunity to expand academic knowledge and develop cultural awareness, study abroad also presents students who identify as LGBTQ with exciting possibilities to explore sexual orientation and gender in a global context. In preparing to study abroad, it is important to think about how your sexual orientation and gender expression may be salient to your experiences abroad. While you prepare, we are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point. As always, your IEO advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources.

Question to ask yourself and/or your IEO Advisor

Sense of Community

If a sense of LGBTQ community is important to you, it may be beneficial to do some online research about local LGBTQ organizations in your potential study abroad location. If you know of someone who identifies with the LGBTQ community and has either studied abroad or visited that location, you may want to ask them about their experiences. Just remember, there are always going to be different opinions and viewpoints.

  • 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?

Resources

Think about the resources that you currently have and/or use at UCLA and your local community. It might be beneficial to look into the types of resources that may or may not exist in your potential study abroad location.

  • 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? (Tip: For U.S. passports, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs facilitates this process using a Form DS-11 to change gender markers. Note that this form requires assembling additional information and will take time to complete. The National Center for Transgender Equality has a comprehensive guide explaining this process.)

Coming Out

  • If I am open about my sexual orientation and/or gender identity at UCLA, will that change at all when I am abroad?
  • If I choose to come out while abroad, how will this affect me and my relationships with friends and family upon my return?
  • How open will I be about my sexual orientation, gender expression and pronouns with my teachers, peers, friends, host family, and others?
  • Are there situations in which I would not disclose my sexual orientation or gender identity?
  • If I choose to conceal my sexual orientation or gender identity while abroad, what impact will this have on me upon my return?

Local Attitudes

When it comes to local attitudes, there might be a difference between how local people interact with other locals and how they interact with visitors from other countries. To help work through and understand these differences, consult with others who you may know who have been to the location in question. If you don’t personally know someone, try to find personal stories others may have shared online about their experiences. For UCEAP participants, the “Daily Life Abroad” section of your UCEAP Program Guide has helpful information about this topic.

  • 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?

Personal Health & Safety

  • What are my safety needs, and how can they best be met? Is the program able to make accommodations for students who request single rooms, private baths, or certain roommates?
  • Will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services to properly care for my medical needs, including those related to physical transition, like hormones?  Are they available in my host country?  If not, will I need any additional documentation to travel with any medications or supplies?  Will it be possible to travel legally with these supplies?

Legality

Concerning legality and enforcement, the U.S. Department of State LGBTI Travel Information provides general information about travel advice for LGBTQ individuals. They also have a country specific database  that includes information on LGBTQ rights.

  • 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?
  • What is the age of consent for sexual behavior? Does it differ for heterosexual versus same-sex couples?

Transgender Identity

  • What are the local attitudes toward transgender individuals in the host culture?
  • What are the laws regarding gender identity and travel documentation?
  • What are my safety needs and perceptions, and how can they best be met?
  • Will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services to properly care for my medical needs, including those related to physical transition, like hormones?  Are they available in my host country?  If not, will I need any additional documentation to travel with any medications or supplies?  Will it be possible to travel legally with these supplies?
  • If I am currently utilizing insurance for any health services, including those related to physical transition, what does insurance coverage look like while I am abroad?

General Resources

Religious Identity

If your religion or spirituality is a significant part of your identity, it might be beneficial to consider how that could interact with your experience abroad. If you don’t practice a religion yourself, many in your host culture might, so it can be helpful to understand cultural expectations related to food, social norms, and local laws in which the host country’s religion(s) play a major part. Whether you practice a religion or not, studying abroad can present you with opportunities to learn more about your host country’s culture and belief systems.

As you prepare for studying abroad, we are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point. As always, your IEO advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources.

Questions to ask yourself and/or your IEO Advisor

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?

Tips

  • If you plan on practicing your religion abroad, it might be helpful to think about whether you may wish to find a place of worship, seek out a community of other practitioners, follow specific dietary guidelines, or worship according to a specific schedule. Consider which aspects of your religious practice you are able or not able to be flexible about.
  • Depending on your religious identity and your location, you may want to communicate any concerns or specific information about accommodations (such as dietary restrictions) to program staff ahead of departure, especially if you are living with a host family.
  • Demonstrate respect by wearing appropriate attire and showing proper respect to icons, etc. If you do not know what is appropriate, just ask.
  • Stay in touch with your UCLA or home faith community.

General Resources

  • Talk to your IEO advisor, who can help you process some of these questions and access resources below.
  • The Pluralism Project, Harvard University: This website acts as a hub for links to resources about religion and spirituality around the world.
  • U.S. State Department – International Religious Freedom Report.This website links to an annual report issued by the U.S. State Department regarding the status of religious freedom around the world. 
  • On the CIA World Factbook website, look for your host country’s page and research the “People and Society” section, where you can find the religious breakdown of the country.
  • There are some religious organizations that connect study abroad students in certain religions to local communities of practitioners across the globe. An IEO advisor can help you identify these resources upon request, if they exist for your particular religion.
  • Check out the “Finances” tab on the UCLA IEO website for information about financial aid and scholarships.

Students of Color

As a student of color in the US, it is possible you have given thought to what it means to belong to a minoritized racial/ethnic group and also how that impacts your daily life. When studying abroad, it is important to learn about how people of your racial/ethnic identity are perceived and treated.  As you prepare for studying abroad, we are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point. As always, your IEO advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources.

Questions to ask yourself and/or your IEO Advisor

  • What are the cultural norms of my host country? Are there religious/cultural institutions or practices that they adhere to?
  • What is the relationship between my host country and the United States?
  • What types of experiences do students of color typically have on the programs (or in the country) I am considering?
  • If I am the only member of my racial/ethnic group in my program, how will that impact my experience abroad?
  • If staying with a host family, have they hosted students of my race/ethnicity before? If not, will this be an issue for me or them?
  • How are people of my race/ethnicity typically treated in my host country?
  • What are my resources if I experience racial or discriminatory incidents?
  • Who is perceived as an ethnic or racial minority in my host country, and how is that perception different than or similar to my experience as a person of color in the US?
  • How is my racial or ethnic group perceived in my host country? What kinds of stereotypes exist about my racial or ethnic group?
  • How might stereotypes about what Americans look like create assumptions about my identity?
  • What is the history of ethnic or racial tension in the country? Is the situation currently hostile to members of a minority race or particular ethnicity or religion?
  • Are issues of racism/ethnic discrimination influenced by immigration in my host country?
  • How can I explain to my family that a study abroad experience can contribute to the achievement of my career goals?
  • For heritage seekers: I will be studying in the country my parents are from, but I have never been there before and/or I don’t speak the language. Can I contact other heritage students who may have done this before me so I can learn from their experiences?

Tips

  • Research funding opportunities that you may qualify for as a student of color studying abroad – either in the US, in your host country, or both.
  • Students with certain hair textures may require services from stylists or salons that may not be easily accessible abroad. Ask locals who have similar textures or wear similar styles for recommendations. Also, do some research online. Don’t forget to stock up on your preferred hair products in case they are not available abroad.
  • You may experience a shift in privilege depending on where you travel. You may find that you have access to certain kinds of mobility that are not accessible to some communities abroad. For example, while you may not consider yourself economically privileged at home, you may be considered wealthy by that community’s standards because of your ability to travel and pursue a college education in another country.
  • In the U.S., your race/ethnicity may be a defining factor of your identity, but while abroad, you might be perceived as an American first.
  • In contrast, assumptions about what Americans look like may cause others abroad to question the fact that you’re an American. They might ask you questions about your nationality and cultural heritage, even after you’ve already stated that you are an American. Recognize that these questions are likely a result of a lack of awareness about the racial and ethnic demographics of the U.S.
  • When visiting racially/ethnically homogeneous areas, you may encounter curious locals who have never seen people who look like you, and so they might stare at you excessively, take photos of you, or even try to touch you/your hair. If it makes you uncomfortable, politely express your discomfort and ask that they respect your boundaries.
  • Social support in your host country and at home will help you navigate a new culture that may include new racial/ethnic relations. Know whom to contact when you feel like your race or ethnic background are discriminated against while abroad.
  • Having a support system of family, friends, and/or romantic partners may also help you deal with feelings of isolation and culture shock.
  • Knowing the social and historical situation in your host country can help you prepare for the transition from the US and back. This helps you be prepared if any incidents arise, however don’t expect prejudice to happen.

General Resources

Students with Disabilities

As a student with disability/ies you may have thought about what study abroad would be like for you. While you prepare for studying abroad, we are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point. As always, your IEO advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources.

Question to ask yourself and/or your IEO Advisor

  • 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?

Tips

  • Disclose your disability needs to program staff early, so appropriate arrangements and reasonable accommodations can be made in advance.
  • Remember that other cultures may provide disability access in a different way—learn about what types of accommodation are typically provided in your host country, and be flexible and open to different ways of accommodation.
  • Before you go, find out as much as you can about your host culture and how they view disability by reading, talking to other students, and attending pre-departure orientation sessions. The more you know, the better prepared you will be for the new environment. For UCEAP participants, the “Daily Life Abroad” section of your UCEAP Program Guide has helpful information about this topic.
  • Think about how you will answer questions about your disability in the language of your host country—look up key vocabulary words ahead of time.

General Resources

Undocumented Students

The UCLA International Education Office affirms the right of undocumented students to pursue higher education. However, due to federal travel restrictions, there are limited opportunities for students with DACA and undocumented students to participate in UCEAP or UCLA Travel Study at this time. Should this change, you are encouraged to consult with the legal services team at the UCLA Undocumented Student Program to discuss your options. UCLA IEO and UCEAP are not able to provide any legal advice for undocumented students.

Advance Parole

The UC Immigrant Legal Services Center advises undocumented students under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) not to apply for Advance Parole. U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services states that it will not accept or approve requests for Advance Parole at this time. If you apply for Advance Parole now, your application will be rejected and you may lose your filing fee. The legal services team at the UCLA Undocumented Student Program can interpret the legal implications of a change in Federal immigration policy and provide advice to undocumented travelers.

If you need further information on the status of DACA visit the UCLA Undocumented Student Program.

Domestic Programs

In addition to UC programs like UCLA CAPPP Quarter in Washington DC and UC Center Sacramento, some undocumented students may be eligible to participate in a variety of domestic programs offered through UC campuses’ study abroad offices. We encourage undocumented students who are considering these programs to consult with the legal services team at the UCLA Undocumented Student Program.

UCLA Summer Travel Study

UC Davis: USE Study Abroad Programs

UC Berkeley Study Abroad

General Resources