It is important to stay true to yourself during your time abroad while at the same time respecting the culture and abiding by the laws of your host country. Whether you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ+), you will want to find the program that is the right fit for you. To do so, you must take into account social climate, laws, and your personal interests.
The links below are a great place to start your research. Prior to departure, be sure to meet with your Education Abroad advisor or Elective Abroad program manager if you have any questions. Depending on the culture and laws of your host country, particular housing arrangements might be more or less accommodating to your needs.
If you identify as LGBTQ+ at Babson, you might wish to take your sexual orientation into account when selecting a program. The consideration given to this aspect of your identity will vary from student to student. Similarly, the reaction to your identity will vary from location to location. Some questions to ask include:
- Is my host city a safe place for LGBTQ+ persons?
- If not, am I comfortable remaining “closeted” during my time abroad?
- Are other Babson students going to be on this program? Does this make me more or less comfortable displaying my sexual orientation?
- If staying with a host family, how will I respond to their religious beliefs and/or questions about my sexual orientation or sexual identity should they arise?
Refer to the following resources for more information by country:
Your time abroad provides you with the perfect opportunity to explore every aspect of your identity. Many students learn more about themselves during this time as they are experiencing a new culture with a new set of beliefs. LGBTQ+ students in particular may find themselves faced with new and different attitudes and stereotypes regarding their identity.
This provides a very unique opportunity for LGBTQ+ students to interact with the local culture and overcome the initial culture shock that one might face. Reaching out to LGBTQ+ student organizations or advocacy groups presents the chance to start a dialogue with community members. In addition to learning more about the perception of LGBTQ+ issues abroad, you also might find yourself learning more about the culture of your host country.
Look for organizations in your host country using the link below:
Personal Growth and Development
Immersing yourself in a culture whose beliefs you may not share is difficult, but not impossible. Learning about another culture, and the beliefs shared by members of that culture, offers students the opportunity to experience new levels of personal growth.
Your time abroad is guaranteed to shape you in one way or another. Your experiences abroad will stay with you, even after your return to Babson. It is important to reflect on the experiences you have had abroad and translate them into lessons that you can apply to your everyday life.
For example, were you inspired by the level of acceptance in your host country? In what ways can you help the Babson community reach this level of acceptance? Likewise, if your host country was a very intolerant place for LGBTQ+ students, do you feel inspired to get more involved in advocacy work?
Do not underestimate the power of social media as a research tool. Many cities will have a local LGBTQ+ organization that may be able to answer any questions you may have. The lack of such an organization also might allow you to draw conclusions about the attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community.