Small World Map

Study Abroad for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered (GLBT) Students

Studying abroad is an excellent opportunity to learn about world cultures as well as your own. As a GLBT student you may wish to consider some additional issues before departure.

Below are tips and resources to help you prepare for your time abroad and your transition back into American life when you return. Preparing for what to expect in a particular country can make the difference between a wonderful experience abroad and an unpleasant one.

Why should I study abroad?

Some thoughts GLBT Students should consider when making the decision to study abroad

Get to know your destination. Explore GLBT travel guides and internet resources. Talk with other GLBT and allied people about their experiences in certain countries or regions to gather as much information as possible upon which to make your choices and decisions. Once in your host country, find out what local newspapers, e-magazines or online resources may be available. Some questions to ask include:

The following may be useful in your search:

Understand the context, customs, and attitudes in your host country. Similar expressions or behaviors may have vastly different meanings in different places. In somelocations when you are outside distinct gay 'neighborhoods' or specificvacation or resort facilities, open expressions of your sexualorientation might be frowned upon.

In some other areas of the world,expressions of friendship (such as eye contact, a smile, touching, and physical proximity) may be quite different than those expressedamong your U.S. peers and cause you to experience confusion oruncertainty about who may or may not be GLBT. For example, in several Middle Eastern countries hand-holding among males is a custom of special friendship and respect and does not necessarily imply homosexuality. Some questions to ask include:

For information on diversity, discrimination, and culture:

Learn the laws of your host country regarding GLBT issues, same-sex sexual behavior and expressions of GLBT identity and community. You are required to follow the law in your host country.Once outside the United States you are no longer protected by U.S.laws. If same-sex acts are illegal in your host country and you arecaught engaging in them (or presumed to have engaged in them), youcould be arrested and imprisoned in that country. In some countries,the penalties are very severe and can even include deportation,corporal punishments, and execution.

Be familiar with local laws and customs so you can make informed andsafe choices about destinations and programs which will be the bestfit for you and your needs. Some questions to ask include:

Links for news and laws around the world:

Think about changes that may occur when you come home. A journey abroad is a time of personal growth and discovery. Many transformations in personal development and self-awareness can occur, prompted by the fact that the restrictions of the home culture have been removed. Returning home is therefore a time of transition that can be difficult at times.

Go Abroad! The world is waiting.

Other resources

The following titles are available from most online book retailers.

The Damron Mens Travel Guide 2006 (Damron Men's Travel Guide)
Over 12,000 listings of gay-friendly businesses in the US, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, South America, and most European capitals.

Damron Women's Traveller 2006
Over 9,000 listings cover North America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and major capitals of Europe, noting women-run businesses, vegetarian menus, wheelchair access, multiracial clientele, and much more.

Gay Travel A to Z: The World of Gay and Lesbian Travel Options at your Fingertips 2001
The most complete gay and lesbian travel options available anywhere are detailed in this comprehensive guide produced by a gay publisher who has exclusively specialized in gay and lesbian travel since 1980.

Frommer's Gay and Lesbian Europe, Third Edition (2003)
Offers inside tips on the gay and lesbian scene in every locale, plus practical information on hotels, dining, and attractions-a must for the 74 percent of U.S. gays and lesbians who took an international trip in 2001

Additional Links

European specific GLBT informationOpens in new window

Gay and Lesbian resources in AsiaOpens in new window

National Organizations

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights CommissionOpens in new window contains country-specific online resources and information to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status.

The Amnesty International: LGBT NetworkOpens in new window facilitates activism, discussion, and education around the world.

The International Lesbian and Gay AssociationOpens in new window is a world-wide network of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people everywhere.

This information has been adapted with the permission of the Office of International Programs, Ithaca College and the International Centre of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


MSU’s Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Resource Center provides scholarship opportunitiesOpens in new window for current and prospective students at MSU. The scholarships include the Pride Scholarship, LBGT Student of Color Scholarship, and Stephen P. Pougnet and Christopher J. Green Endowed Scholarship.