Identity Abroad

Identity Abroad

What you will encounter abroad may not always be the same welcoming community that Wellesley offers. Different cultures are going to have different levels of sensitivity, but that does not mean you need to change anything about yourself to go abroad. Students who are a minority student in their host country sometimes receive additional attention, which may or may not be discrimination. You can talk with your host family and program to discuss issues that may arise while you are abroad and brainstorm solutions that both respect the host culture and your own identity. The following tips and resources may also help you prepare for your time abroad.

Please note that all Wellesley students have access to the member-only resources on! Log-in information can be found here (log-in required).

Please contact OIS if you have questions about accessing these resources:

Research Host Country Conditions

What types of laws are in place? What is the political climate? Learn as much as you can about the culture, religion, living and health conditions before you go so you know more of what to expect. 

  • Check out Diversity Abroad's Destination Guides. These guides include advice for specific identity groups, information about destination-specific funding opportunities, health and safety tips, and more.
  • IES Abroad's Country-Specific Resources include information such as dietary concerns, resources for racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ and religious identities, and disability and mental health support.
  • Read Brown University's survey of students' experiences with their identity in various locations around the world.
  • This spreadsheet shows reviews by Wellesley students over the last 8 years that highlight diversity and LGBTQ+ standards abroad.
For Racial and Ethnic Minority Students

Resources for all racial and ethnic minority students:

African-American/Black Students:

Latinx Students:

Asian/Asian-American Students:

Indigenous/Native American Students:

For First-Generation Students

The prospect of studying abroad can be exiciting and overwhelming, especially if you're the first member of your family to do so. Not sure where to start? Talk to OIS or upperclass students. We'll walk you through the process and speak to amy concerns you may have. 

"I discovered that my family background, which I always considered a barrier, actually had provided me with impressive intercultural competencies. I could already communicate across social class lines and understood the transition from immigrant to American. Why not take that knowledge across borders? What was perceived to be a deficit became a great benefit."

- Karen Collias, founder of Knowledge WIthout Borders


For LGBTQIA + Students

Understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression may differ depending on where in the world you are traveling. Going abroad can thus present the opportunity to think about LGBTIA+ identity in a whole new way. Before going abroad, determine your own individual needs and request information on how these can be met. It is also helpful to consider the following:

  • How important is it to me to go somewhere accepting of my identity? What type of destination will I be happiest in?
  • What does LGBT+ expression look like in my destination? How does this differ from what I'm used to? 
  • What are the social attitudes towards being LGBT+ in my destination?
  • What resources are available in my host country or program? 
  • How will my intersectional identities be perceived in my destination?
  • Will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services while abroad? How will I get these?

Gender Markers and Official Documentation:

Since 2021, the U.S. Department of State has allowed individuals to select male (M), female (F), or unspecified (X) as their gender marker on passport applications. This marker does not need to match that on your supporting documentation. Though the State Department will issue a passport with an X gender marker, this does not guarantee you entry into other countries. Some destinations may not recognize the X gender marker. Before traveling, it is imperative that you check with the foreign embassy or consulate of the destination country in the United States. 

International students will need to consult their embassy or consulate to determine if an X gender marker is available to them. 


Student Stories:

  • GoOverseas Blog: 9 Major Life Lessons I Learned Studying Abroad as an LGBT
  • GlobalGayz: an online journal documenting the travels of LGBT individuals around the world
  • Carleton College Blog: 10 Reasons Why LGBTQ Students Should Study Abroad

Travel and Safety: 

For Students with Disabilities

Studying abroad with a disability is absolutely possible, and we will work closely with you to identify program options and accommodations best suited to your needs. 

Wellesley-specific resources:

For Students on a Budget

Take a look at the resources below for tips and trickets when it comes to financing your time abroad. OIS staff are also available to speak with you at any time about study abraod scholarship opportunities. Contact Katie Saibara for more information. 

  • IES webinar: Show Me the Money: Explore How to Fund Study Abroad When Money is Tight and Maximize the Experience
  • DiversityAbroad article, "8 Study Abroad Scholarships That Every Student Should Know About"
  • IES Abroad's tips from correspondents: Budgeting While Abroad
  • Review our list of study abroad scholarships. We would like to highlight the Fund for Education Abroad and Benjamin A. Gilman scholarships. 
  • Diversity Abroad's guide for students on a budget
Religious Diversity Abroad
Health and Safety Tips


Mental Health


  • Yale's page on Sexual Harassment or Assault Abroad



Further Resources