Attitudes toward various identities and underrepresented groups vary greatly among countries and cultures. Your identities in the United States or your home country will not always be how people view you off-campus and abroad. The attention you get for your personal identity will differ and may not always be positive. However, while you cannot control the attention you receive, you can make your own decisions on how you react to this attention.
During the planning and pre-departure phases, students should consider how their identities may be impacted while studying off campus. During any major life event, including off-campus study, identities may shift, evolve, or become more/less salient – all students should consider how they may be impacted while studying off campus. Some students might not have traveled before to another country and may find themselves as a minority in a community for the first time; or their sexual orientation or gender identity may not be fully accepted in the host culture.
Know that there are resources to help you prepare before you leave, while you are off campus, and when you return. St. Olaf College is member of the Diversity Abroad Network, an organization dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusive practices for global education. The Diversity Abroad Network provides numerous online resources, such as their destination guides, to help prepare students going abroad. Students can also create a free account to explore their resources.
In addition to Diversity Abroad, IOS has compiled lists of equity resouses relevant to the locations of our programs:
In addition to these on-line resources, there are several staff and faculty on campus who can meet with and assist you as you navigate identity off-campus. If you do not know where to start in seeking support or starting this conversation, reach out to the International and Off-Campus Studies Advising Coordinator or other IOS staff. You can stop into TOH 380, make an appointment, email or call IOS staff for initial advice. We look forward to supporting you throughout your experience.