We seek to ensure that all students at Tufts have the opportunity to study abroad. Each of you possesses a unique set of skills, life experiences, and perspectives that can enhance the study-abroad experience not only for you, but also for other students on your program as well as for your host communities. Every student will have different challenges in preparing for and navigating the study-abroad experience; your experience will be unique to you, depending on your individual intersectional identities and cultural background in relation to the majority culture of your host community.
True cultural immersion reveals the entirety of the host culture's beliefs, norms, and attitudes- both the good and the bad. Unfortunately, intolerance and discrimination exist to one degree or another around the globe; no society or culture is immune. How they manifest will vary, however, from microagressions to more overt or even aggressive/violent displays. While abroad, you may find that there is more openly-expressed curiosity about you and your background. Sometimes, the host community may be more ethnically and racially homogenous than what you might be used to, and the resultant lack of familiarity with and sensitivity to issues of diversity and difference may manifest in both overt and subtle displays of prejudice and intolerance. In some countries, there may exist more conservative belief systems or attitudes regarding sexuality and gender identity and expression, and there may be less tolerance of non-conformance to those cultural norms. You may find some of the host community's values and ways of expressing them to be insensitive, distasteful, and/or hurtful. In many cases, you may find that attitudes and behaviors surrounding difference may stem more from lack of experience with people of diverse backgrounds and identities than from malice or ill will. While it can be helpful to remember that this is often the case, encountering increased attention, insensitivity, or outright discriminatory language and behavior in your host community can nonetheless be disconcerting and disappointing. And it can be frustrating to feel (or be told) that such attitudes and behaviors are generally regarded as "acceptable" because they are "just part of the culture."
Study abroad can also force you to see the world through a different lens than the one you’re used to. For example, students who have lived most of their lives as part of the “majority” culture of their home community may have a chance to live within the “non-majority” culture of their host community; while students who have lived most of their lives as part of the “non-majority” culture of their home community may experience being (or appearing to be) a member of the “majority” culture within their host community or being part of a “non-majority” culture different from the one within which they have lived most of their lives. In most cases, however, you will find that certain aspects of your unique identity will be challenged through the course of the study-abroad experience, and the ways in which these aspects are challenged will vary depending upon your own intersectional identity as well as upon the host community and its particular sociopolitical history. Partly because of these challenges, students often find that study abroad is a unique and rewarding opportunity to explore personal identity and to gain a more complex and nuanced understanding of what it means to be a global citizen.
We recommend that you do some research on the sociopolitical history, dominant belief systems, and cultural norms of your host community and also talk to students who have studied abroad there (or read stories about their experiences) so that you might prepare yourself for the attitudes and behaviors you might encounter. You might also think about potential strategies for dealing with disconcerting situations that might arise while you are abroad. The strength, adaptability, and resiliency you have cultivated through your life as you have navigated multiple environments and encountered a wide variety of worldviews will serve you well in this regard! Your program should also be able to provide support in-country and/or connect you with local resources.
And while not every student will directly experience discrimination while abroad, every student does have a responsibility to observe and think critically about how privilege and power work within the host culture and to support your peers who may be more directly impacted.
Below you will find links to a few select resources and articles that may help you prepare for the transition to the new social and cultural milieu of your study-abroad host community.
While there are many relevant resources available online, we highlight a few here. Please note that Tufts University and Tufts Global Education are not responsible for the content or accuracy of information found on external websites.
- Diversity Abroad: with articles about various issues of diversity
- University of Denver's Resources on Diversity and Study Abroad- a very useful page addressing the experiences and unique considerations of specific student populations and study abroad
- StudentsAbroad.com’s Study Abroad Student Handbook: “Special Issues in Health and Safety”
- The Center for Global Education: "What About Discrimination?"
- Geert Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions - examines how nations across the world differ on various dimensions of culture
- Tufts' European Students' Association- connect with students who can give you insight and advice on living in Europe
DACA and Study Abroad
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students may be able to study abroad if they are granted Advance Parole for “educational” purposes. This is a long and complicated process that requires advanced planning. Due to the risks associated with leaving and re-entering the United States, we strongly suggest that DACA students seek legal counsel before moving forward with a study abroad program.
Please Note: Re-entry back into the United States cannot be guaranteed by the University, and the University makes no warranties or representations with respect to successful re-entry, even with Advance Parole and study abroad program approval. Students must assess and assume the risks associated with re-entry, and are strongly urged to discuss these risks with legal counsel.
Race and Ethnicity Abroad
- Diversity Abroad: Students of Color Abroad
- Diversity Network: "Discrimination Abroad"
- PLATO Resources for Underrepresented Students
- Matador Network: "I was a student of color who studied abroad. Here are 4 questions I wish I had asked before I left"
- Global Graduates: "Advice for Black people and ethnic minorities on a year abroad"
- GoAbroad: "Studying Abroad as a Minority"
- STAMPED Podcast and STAMPED Blog
- Black & Abroad
- Rick Steves: "Encountering Racism in Europe"
- Glimpse: "Race Abroad for Americans of Color Preparing to Live Abroad" (PDF)
- Meaningful Travel Tips & Tales: LatinX Perspectives (e-book download)
Heritage-Seeking Students Abroad
LGBTQ+ Students Abroad
- "The LGBTQ+ Guide to Study Abroad" for Tufts Programs Abroad
- "LGBTQ Students Abroad" via DiversityAbroad.com
- "An LGBT Student Guide to Study Abroad" via GoAbroad.com
- "Flying While Trans" article via NYTimes.com
- "9 Major Life Lessons I Learned Studying Abroad as an LGBT Person" via GoOverseas.com
- "This is what LGBT life is like around the world" (TED talk)
- National Center for Transgender Equality: Travel
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (with country-specific information re: attitudes and laws pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity/expression)
- OutRight Action International
- Global Gayz
- The U.S. State Department's travel and passport information for LGBTI individuals
- TSA: Information for Transgender Travelers
- REFUGE: Restroom Finder
- MIUSA.org's "Going Abroad: A Guide for Americans with Disabilities"
- Transitions Abroad: "Disability Travel Abroad"
- The Seattle Globalist: "12 study abroad resources for students with disabilities
First-Generation Students Abroad
- Diversity Abroad: "First Generation Students Traveling Abroad"
- Diversity Abroad: "Making the Decision to Study Abroad as a First-Gen Student"
- Go Overseas: "What's It Like to Study Abroad and Be the First in Your Family to Travel?"
- UC Boulder: "Study Abroad as a First Generation College Student" (YouTube)
Tufts University's Non-Discrimination Statement
Tufts does not discriminate in its educational programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion or religious creed, disability or handicap, sex or gender (including pregnancy, sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct including acts of sexual violence such as rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation and coercion), gender identity and/or expression (including a trans identity), sexual orientation, military or veteran status, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state or local law. Retaliation is also prohibited. Tufts will comply with state and federal laws such as M.G.L. c. 151B, Title IX, Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and other similar laws that prohibit discrimination. More detailed Tufts policies and procedures on this topic may be found in the OEO Policies and Procedures.
Unlawful discrimination has no place at Tufts University and offends the University’s core values which include a commitment to equal opportunity and inclusion. All Tufts employees, faculty members, students and community members are expected to join with and uphold this commitment.
Any member of the Tufts University community has the right to raise concerns or make a complaint regarding discrimination under this policy without fear of retaliation. Any and all inquiries regarding the application of this statement and related policies may be referred to: Jill Zellmer, MSW, Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity, Title IX and 504 Coordinator, at 617.627.3298 at 196 Boston Avenue, 3rd floor, Medford, MA or at Jill.Zellmer@tufts.edu. Anonymous complaints may also be made by reporting online at: http://tufts-oeo.ethicspoint.com/ As set forth in our policies, individuals may also file complaints with administrative agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). The contact information for the local office of OCR is 617.289.0111 at Office for Civil Rights, Boston Office U.S. Department of Education, 8th Floor, 5 Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109-3921. The email address for OCR is OCR.Boston@ed.gov.
Please note that we also have a separate Non-Discrimination Policy.