LGBTQ Students

 Study Abroad Guide for LGBTQIA Students

Cultures around the world can vary greatly in their perspectives, social expectations, and opinions relating to the complex concepts of gender and sexual identities.  When you venture out in the world, you carry your identity with you even if it is not readily apparent to those around you. Going abroad can therefore represent a second "coming out", and you will need to make decisions about how and when to express your LGBTQIA identity. It is important to think about what kind of support may be available to you in your new environment.

The UCSB Education Abroad Program (EAP) is here to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about your selected program. Our advisors will review program options and offer any resources that may help you on your education abroad journey. One’s sexual orientation or gender identity should not be a barrier to studying abroad.

There are several resources available to LGBTQIA students to assist in picking a study abroad program. Please refer to UCEAP LGBTQ Community page for questions to consider and country information.

The UCSB EAP office has also partnered with the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) to provide information on resources that are available to students abroad.

In their own words

My experience in Lyon France was indescribable. Studying abroad allowed me to have the one in a lifetime experience of simply moving to another country and allowing myself to be immersed into their culture. I built friendships with people from all around the world, learned about different cultures and tested my boundaries as a person. The opportunity to interact with people from different cultures from all around the world opened my eyes to how different our experiences are as people and it allowed me to become more aware of and compassionate towards others unique experiences. Being in a different country made me realize that there are many unique aspects to American culture that I was not aware even existed. I noticed very drastic differences in things from academic culture to queer culture. These experiences allowed me to grow drastically as a person. I learned things about myself that I would have never gotten the opportunity to otherwise. If I had to describe studying abroad in one word it would be ‘transformative.’” 

- Ogui G., UCSB EAP France

While searching for a program, I did keep in mind what places I would most likely have to hide my identity, thinking about cultural norms and laws relating to LGBT+ folks. I think that a lot of LGBT+ folks think that they can only travel abroad while out in countries in Europe, which isn’t true. Not only are there places in Europe which are not safe for the LGBT+ community, but there are also many countries outside of Europe that are very LGBT+ friendly, so I really want to emphasize that Europe isn’t your only option for studying abroad. ....To be honest, I felt much safer in Japan (both in general and regarding my identity) than in the US....  The main highlight of my time abroad was definitely my trip to Hiroshima. As part of the Global Studies in Japan program, all of the UC students were taken on an educational trip to Hiroshima for a couple days. We had the honor of actually talking to a survivor of the bombing and going to see the Peace Memorial Museum which was really intense but also (I think) really important.  Read more about Jenna's experience in Japan.

-Jenna M., UCSB EAP Japan

Please see the following topics for more information: 

A Word About Location

Program Selection

Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Identity Abroad

Additional Web Resources

Program/University Specific Information and resources

Programs Addressing Queer Issues

Here are a few examples of specialized programs that address gender and sexuality issues in the academic curriculum. This is not a definitive list, so your program search should not be limited to the following. We welcome further submissions for posting.

UCEAP: You can use the UCEAP course catalog to search for classes that focus on gender and sexuality (trying searching UC Subject: Women and Gender Studies or Keyword: sex/sexuality).  Some countries with high number of courses that other UC students have taken include: Australia, Barbados, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, and the UK.  However, please be aware that even though a program in a certain country offers classes focusing on Queer or LGBTQ studies, does not mean it always reflect the attitude of the local community.  Make sure to thoroughly research your program before making a choice. 

More Resources for LGBTQ students