So, admittedly, I am not the expert on study abroad, as I am a lowly sophomore desperately trying to navigate the world of OCS (Off-Campus Study). But since I’m going through the process now, there are a lot of things regarding study abroad that I’m thinking about. “Do I want to do it? If yes, where do I want to go?” are the two biggest questions, but also followed up by “where am I going to have fun AND be safe?”
Bear with me, it’s about to get really real for a second.
Unfortunately, not every country is as accepting as the United States is (in general). And while going to Morocco might be super cool, being openly queer there won’t be. But don’t let that be a deterrent for you! Going abroad and being queer are two very doable things that can coexist happily.
Here are some tips for going abroad:
- Research! Check out the country/city you’re interested in going to. What are their LGBT laws? How are LGBT people treated? What’s the attitude of the city towards LGBT people/rights? This also may help you narrow down your list if you have many different places and programs in mind.
- Talk to your queer friends! Qdubs has a meeting every year about going abroad while queer. If you are interested in going abroad but don’t know many upperclassmen, you can email Qdubs at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them if they know someone who’s been to the place you’re thinking about, and they will try to set you up with someone. (Sam Roschewsk ’18 is one of the co-leaders, and she says of this, “USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM.”)
- Do some thinking on your own! You’re the one going on this experience, and only you can know what’s best for you. If that means being closeted for your own safety or comfort, then that’s okay! If the idea of being closeted stresses you out, that’s okay too!
- Be smart! You’re the only one who can decide if going abroad is right for you. Choosing to not study abroad is also a very valid decision.
I’ve also found that googling “LGBT study abroad” turns up some interesting and helpful links. I like this one in particular. It’s a couple years old, but I think it still has some good information!