PREPARING TO STUDY ABROAD
Preparing to Study as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgendered Student
The Center for International Programs at BGSU supports the endeavors of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students and appreciates that these students may want information or advice regarding their sexuality in relation to studying abroad. Preparing for what to expect in a particular country can make the difference between a wonderful experience and an unpleasant one. Before you go, it is important to reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of sexual identity, and consider carefully how your identity as a GLBT person may affect your relationships with host nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall education abroad experience.
Cultures vary in terms of what is considered appropriate behavior and how sexual identities are defined and understood. Learn as much as you can about your host culture’s styles of behavior and general attitudes before you go. If unprepared, behavioral signals such as eye contact, smiling, and touching may lead us astray in a foreign culture. For instance did you know that in some Asian countries hand-holding among males is a custom of special friendship and does not necessarily imply homosexuality?
Furthermore it is very important to familiarize yourself with the laws of your host country. In some countries, where sexual orientation can be a basis for persecution under the law, personal safety considerations may require you to hide your sexual identity. Would you be willing to hide your sexual identity? Would you reconsider your options?
It will be impossible to know everything about another culture before you depart and you shouldn’t strive to completely understand your host country before you leave Bowling Green. For your safety you should know the laws and general attitudes concerning sexual orientation and then watch, listen, and learn from the people themselves.
The following resources may be especially helpful as you gather information. Students are also welcome to discuss their concerns with the Education Abroad Counselor in the Center for International Programs. Call 419.372.0479 to set up an appointment.