before you go abroad…

Questions to ask yourself before you travel abroad:

  • Am I looking for a program specific to my needs or a country receptive to gay men and lesbians?
  • Take time to think about how your LGBT identity will affect your relationship with the host nationals, your adjustment to the new culture, and your overall experience abroad.
  • How open do I want to be about my sexuality when I’m abroad?
  • How are sexual identities understood in the host country? What is the general attitudes towards homosexuality and the LGBT community?
  • Does the country I am going to have laws against homosexuality?
  • Are there public decency/ public indecency laws in the host country?
  • What is the age of consent? Does it differ for heterosexual versus same sex couples?
  • Will I be required to hide my LGBT identity? If I do, how will it impact my study abroad experience?
  • What is considered appropriate behavior in the host country? What is typical male and female social behavior and customary gender relations in the host country?
  • What are the social and cultural norms regarding friendship, dating, etc?
  • Do nonverbal gestures (eye contact, smiling, touching) mean the same thing in the host country as in America?
  • Are there differences in the perception of an LGBT person in different areas/ regions of the host country?
  • What is the coming out process like in the host country?
  • Are there situations in which I would not disclose my sexual orientation?
  • How important is it for me to find other students/ friends who share my identity while abroad?
  • Will others show hostility towards me for public expressions of my identity?
  • What type of housing situation options are there for me?
  • What are my safety needs? Is the program knowledgeable about resources?
  • How will my coming out affect the host-family relationship? Should I tell them before I arrive or after we get to know each other?
  • Should I request a gay-friendly host family?
  • As a transgender individual or someone in transition, what challenges will I face with airport security, immigration, and documentation?
  • Will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services to properly care for my medical needs, including those related to transition like hormones? Are they available in the host country? If not, will I need any additional documentation to travel with them?