On any education abroad program, including those arranged through the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, matters of personal identity may impact you. You may experience being a minority in a community for the very first time, or you may receive positive or negative unwanted attention based on identity. It is essential to remember that you have control over how you respond to the attention.

Your Identity

How you identify in the U.S. may not necessarily match how you will be identified abroad. As a student of an Education Abroad program, those in the host country may first identify you as an American or citizen of the U.S. This may not be how you categorize yourself at home.

Additionally, you may see yourself as a poor college student in the U.S. However, because of your ability to travel, some people in your host country may see you as wealthy.

We encourage you to think about each of the parts that make you and your identity unique such as student type, your race or ethnicity, religious belief, socioeconomic status, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Certain parts of your identity are more easily observable by others, such as skin color or age, but there are other parts of your identity that are harder to notice and observe, such as a being a member in a fraternity or a community volunteer.

  • Will you want to discuss these parts of your identity with people in your host country? And if so, how?
  • How would you react to an offensive comment made on an easily observable piece of your identity?
  • Remember to think about how these pieces of your identity may impact your values.
  • Will your identity change while you are completing your education abroad program?

Keep in mind that just as you have multiple parts that make up you and your identity, those in your host country do too. Do not limit them to just one identity based on something observable. Be open to their multiple identities, just as you would like them to do for you and try to learn the parts that make up the whole identity of your new friends.

In return they will learn the different pieces that make up your own personal puzzle.

Is Education Abroad for Me?

We believe there is an education abroad (EA) program for each and every student, but we understand that students often wonder, "Is education abroad right for me?"

  • EA is a great resume builder and may even open up new opportunities for graduate school, or let you stand apart compared to other job candidates.
  • With increasing globalization, it is important to have second language skills, problem-solving skills, and knowledge with a global perspective.
  • You can earn credits toward graduation through an EA program, and with some detailed planning it will not delay your graduation date.
  • As a student, you are eligible for scholarships and financial aid to assist with payment for your program.

Student Identity Resources

  • The Education Abroad office has served students of all kinds, including actively serving students, such as Guardsmen. Many veterans have participated in our education abroad programs.

    Whether you have served out of the U.S. or not, the Education Abroad office is here to help! Education abroad programs provide students with opportunities to explore and learn about cultures, languages, and more while in an academic setting.

    Many veterans are still able to use military or veterans’ benefits to help fund their education abroad. For more information and resources, visit the Robert and James Wright Center for Non-Traditional and Veteran Students in Royce Hall for information.

    You can also refer to the VA Benefits Fact Sheet on Post 9/11 GI Bill and Study Abroad, detailing how the GI Bill can help you get closer to your plan to study abroad. UW System also provides information regarding many issues, including the GI Bill and benefits.

  • UW-Platteville defines a non-traditional student as an individual who attends at least part time for the academic year, works full time (35+ hours) each week, is deemed financially independent, has dependents other than a spouse, is a single parent, does not have a high school diploma, or has a combination of any of these qualities.

    Non-traditional students may face different issues and concerns when applying or even considering an education abroad program, as many balance academics with other responsibilities at work and at home.

    No matter the situation, the Education Abroad office is available to help find the perfect education program for you.

    A few things to consider when choosing a program:

    • Am I allowed to take a minor child or partner with me while I study abroad? Are there programs where this accommodation is possible?
    • May I request to not live with a roommate, or request to be placed in a homestay of similar interest and age range?
    • Will other non-traditional students participate in my program?
    • What skills will I gain or improve upon during my time abroad?

    For more resources and general information, access the Frequently Asked Questions section for Non-Traditional Students.

    This article, No Age Limits for Study Abroad, describes a 29-year-old woman's study abroad experience in France.

  • If you are the first in your family to attend college, this also means you are likely to be the first in your family to pursue education abroad.

    These circumstances may lead to unique concerns from family and friends. Be sure to speak with an education abroad advisor, but also do your own research to resolve some of these concerns. Education abroad advisors are here to help answer your questions about programs and provide advice on what you may experience during your time abroad.

    Some questions to answer and some points to consider while selecting a program:

    • If my family has never studied abroad, who can answer some of my questions and some of my family’s questions as I plan?
    • Am I looking to retain cultural similarities while abroad, or am I looking to explore and experience a culture far different from my own?
    • Is distance important to me while I am abroad?
    • How can I involve my family in the decision to enroll in an education abroad program? This may be essential, especially if I plan to ask them to finance a portion of my time abroad.
    • How can I keep in contact with family and friends while abroad?
    • How will I apply my international experience to life at UW-Platteville upon returning, especially since it is my first time abroad?
  • You may choose to study abroad to learn more about your ancestry. Students like you are known as heritage seekers, a term referring to students who are drawn to study abroad in a particular country and culture not because it is unfamiliar and new, but rather because it is somewhat familiar.

    Participating in an education abroad program will provide a chance to learn more about your ancestral history and its modern culture.

    Going to your ancestral homeland can be an emotional experience, because you chose the location not just for the academics but also for very personal reasons. Some students go abroad to learn the language of their parents so that they can feel more connected to their family and culture. The type of experience you will have abroad may vary, as some students feel more connected to their ancestral roots while others became more appreciative of their American roots. Some students will be able to meet with relatives, while others will just be learning more about their ancestral history.

    Heritage seekers at times have idealized views of their ancestral homes, so it is essential to go into the country with an open mind. Each heritage student should be prepared to be seen as an outsider, although often a welcome one, in the local community. Some local community members may have high expectations regarding the cultural knowledge and linguistic capabilities of heritage-seeking students. In the U.S., people often ask about your ancestral background, but abroad you will be seen as an American.

    Some Points to Consider:

    • How will I be perceived in my home country?
    • How will I handle it if relatives ask for favors or money while I am there?
    • Will there be other heritage students in my program?
    • I will be studying in the country my family is from, but I have never been there before, and I don't speak the language. How do I navigate this situation?

    Recommended Resources

  • Degree-seeking international students have the option to participate in an education abroad program through UW-Platteville. You may choose to go back to your home country, but you can also explore other parts of the world.

    Here are some things to remember:

    • Programs vary in length from a couple of weeks to one year, so there are plenty of options for students looking for a specific duration in an education abroad program.
    • Be sure to talk with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) regarding your education abroad program to complete appropriate paperwork and make sure U.S. visa stipulations will be met, and how your visa status might be impacted. Studying abroad may impact your U.S. student visa status and your ability to re-enter the United States.
    • Student visa requirements vary by country, so find out what will be needed before you choose. You may need to apply for "transit visas" to pass through a country on the way to your final destination. Carefully plan necessary travel.

    Questions to ask your academic advisor:

    • What classes must I take on campus for my major?
    • Are there any core or major requirements I can take abroad?
    • What prerequisite courses do I have to take, if any, and how will education abroad impact that?
    • How many elective credits do I have remaining in my major? What level are the credits?
    • Can I fulfill any breadth/depth requirements abroad?
    • How should I follow up with you as my study abroad plans are confirmed?
  • There are many different factors for students to think about when choosing a study abroad program, and LGBTQ+ students may have unique questions and concerns.

    Living abroad will open up opportunities to think about LGBTQ+ identity in a whole new context. It is helpful to think about what kind of support may be available to you in your new environment.

    LGBTQ+ Issues and Concerns

    Countries view gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation differently. Some host cultures may be more welcoming and tolerant of LGBTQ+ identities than in the U.S., but others may have laws that criminalize nonbinary identities or homosexuality. It is important to do research on those prior to departure. Learn the laws of your host country regarding LGBTQ+ issues, same-sex sexual behavior and expressions of LGBTQ+ identity and community.

    You will no longer be protected by U.S. laws once you leave to go abroad. If same-sex acts are illegal in your host country, and you are reported for engaging in them, you could be arrested and imprisoned in that country. Regardless of the laws of your host country, it is always important to research whether an environment is affirming and welcoming.

    Some things to consider:

    • Think carefully about your goals for study abroad.
    • Are you only willing to go somewhere that is very tolerant and affirming of LGBTQ+ identity?
    • What if the perfect program for you is in a place that openly discriminates against LGBTQ+ individuals?
    • Get to know your destination before you leave. Explore LGBT travel guides and internet resources like this map of LGBTQ+ rights around the world to get a better idea of social norms and customs of your host country.

    Here are some questions to ask yourself, the Patricia A. Doyle Center for Gender and Sexuality, and/or your study abroad advisor when choosing a program:

    • What are the cultural and local attitudes towards Americans, tourists, and sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country?
    • What is the attitude of the police towards LGBTQ+ visitors?
    • What is the social perception of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in my host country?
    • How open will I be about my sexual orientation and gender identity with my teachers, peers, friends, host family and others?
    • The LGBTQ+ population is often misunderstood by others. To what degree am I comfortable with educating others and dispelling myths?
    • Are there situations in which I would not disclose my sexual orientation?
    • How important is it to me to find other students and friends who share my identity while abroad? How will I make connections with other sexual minority students, local residents, or community organizations?
    • Are there LGBTQ+ friendly establishments in my host country? How can I find them?
    • Will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services to properly care for my medical needs, including those related to physical transition, like hormones? Are they available in my host country? If not, will I need any additional documentation to travel with any medications or supplies? Will it be possible to travel legally with these supplies?

    Recommended Resources

  • The Education Abroad office encourages all students to study abroad but recognizes that students of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds may face unique challenges as definitions of race vary from culture to culture.

    Students may encounter a broad range of attitudes regarding diversity issues that may result in stares, comments, or even worse: blatant prejudice by the host population. There may even be people who will be eager to touch your hair or skin. Often people in your host country will be curious, and some may ask questions about your cultural heritage that feel insensitive.

    Keep in mind that people in other countries have different cultural norms and are often blunter and less "politically correct" than U.S. residents. We encourage students to do research into social norms and cultural practices of the host country before leaving to study abroad. EA staff members are available to answer questions about the study abroad process, and to help you to understand how diversity issues may be experienced and understood abroad.

    Here are a few example questions to help you think about race and ethnicity abroad:

    • What is the relationship between my host country and the United States?
    • What does it mean to be perceived as an American in a foreign country?
    • How is my ethnic group perceived in my host country? What kind of stereotypes are there?
    • What types of experiences do students of color typically have in the programs or in the country I am considering?
    • Will I experience discrimination in the country I study in? Is there a history of a particular type of discrimination in my host country? Who will I contact if I face racial or discriminatory incidents?

    Your Support Network Abroad

    Leaving your friends and family at home to go to another country can be a daunting experience. We encourage you to carefully select the program that will best fit your needs. The Education Abroad office offers programs with varying levels of on-site support. Programs range from those for very independent students who want to study directly at another university, to those for strictly UW-Platteville students who need or want lots of support, with a multitude of options falling in between.

    Speak with an education abroad advisor about the level of support you would like on a program, and they will help you select the right program for you. Build a support network with other study abroad students in your program, so that if you do experience discrimination, you'll have support.

    Your Support at Home

    Some students are hesitant to study abroad because of family responsibilities or commitments to friends. As you are deciding to study abroad, be sure to include your family and friends in the discussion. Get them excited about your program too.

    The Education Abroad office has resources for parents that we are happy to share with you.

    Recommended Resources

    • UW-Platteville Division of Diversity and Inclusion
    • All Abroad: This site offers student, parent, and advisor mentors who are comfortable addressing diversity concerns in the context of learning abroad. Also available are specific resources for African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander American, Hispanic-American and Native-American students.
    • Top 10 reasons for African-American Students to go abroad
    • PLATO: This website lists scholarship and financial aid information for students of color in higher education and study abroad.
    • Race Abroad: A look into statistics, stories, and other information about perceptions of race abroad for students looking to travel or live abroad.
  • Religion plays a role in many countries and cultures, and depending on where you travel, this may be a larger or smaller role than in the U.S. It is a good idea to research religion in your host country before you go abroad. One place to start can be the CIA World Factbook. This website allows you to search by country and provides statistics on religion. You can also find other helpful facts related to your travel on this website.

    You may have religious practices that you would like to observe abroad. Be sure to talk with your education abroad advisor if you have specific questions about how accommodations may be made for you, if needed, for example dietary restrictions or prayer times.

    Remember to stay open minded about different beliefs you may encounter and consider how your own beliefs will be received abroad. Learning about a country's major religions can be a good opportunity to learn more about its culture. If you plan to worship abroad, do some research on what locations are available.

    Things to consider:

    • What is the degree of religious tolerance in your host country? What is the dominant religion in your host country? Are all religions tolerated?
    • Will you be part of the religious majority or minority?
    • Is it safe to wear religious symbols and/or clothing?
    • How are atheists and agnostics perceived in the host country?
    • Are there laws regarding religion? For example, proselytizing Christianity is banned under Chinese law.
    • Is there separation between religion and the government?

    Recommended Resources

  • UW-Platteville is committed to supporting students with disabilities in all aspects and encourages students to explore the opportunities education abroad has to offer. This includes students with disabilities of all types.

    Just as cultures differ worldwide, though, so does the degree of access and readily available disability services. There are many study abroad programs in which students with disabilities have successfully participated; however, not every study abroad experience is a good fit from an accessibility perspective.

    To maximize the opportunity to travel abroad and study internationally, it is important that students allocate a minimum of six months, preferably up to one year, in advance of their travel to plan for accommodations, regardless of the type of disability. Experience tells us the key to success is early notification and planning. Services for Students with Disabilities and the Education Abroad office are here to assist you before and during your time abroad. Learn more about students with disabilities and education abroad.

  • Transfer students can study abroad! The Education Abroad office has a straightforward application process, and each year we have a number of transfer students on our programs. Be sure to talk with your academic advisor about what will work best for you.

    Here are some things to keep in mind:

    • There are program length options from a couple of weeks to one year.
    • You can even study abroad your first semester at UW-Platteville as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.
    • You will receive UW-Platteville credit for all course work completed on an education abroad program.
    • You are also able to do internships or student teaching abroad.

    Questions to ask your academic advisor:

    • What classes must I take on campus for my major?
    • Are there any core or major requirements I can take abroad?
    • What prerequisite courses do I have to take, if any, and how will education abroad impact that?
    • How many elective credits do I have remaining in my major? Are those elementary, intermediate, or advanced?
    • Can I fulfill any breadth/depth requirements abroad? What would be best?
    • How should I follow up with you as my study abroad plans are confirmed?

Contact Information

Education Abroad

0328 Warner Hall

Walk-in Hours via Zoom

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
2–3:30 p.m.