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iStudy Abroad

Welcome to VIU Education Abroad! We’re glad you found us, and we’re eager to help you plan and prepare for your experience abroad.

We’ve been inspired by our diverse VIU student community, the VIU Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Project, and the movement across Canada to make study abroad experiences more accessible and inclusive. The following pages provide resources, information, tools and reflections to help you learn about and prepare for studies abroad by prioritizing your safety and well-being and taking full advantage of the learning experiences.  We’re learning too!  If you know of a resource or tool that would support VIU students or staff in pursuing studies abroad, please share it with us!

 

Please contact us if you would like assistance navigating our web/print/social media materials or to meet with one of our team members virtually or face-to-face.

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Students with Disabilities

Summary

Going abroad for a couple of weeks or months is a huge decision. It can be  an even bigger decision if you are a student with a disability(s). When studying abroad on an exchange, field school, internship, or practicum it is important to understand that disability accommodations in the host country or community will be widely varied as well as others' awareness of and cultural attitudes regarding disabilities.

 

If you are considering a study abroad experience, it is important that you to communicate your unique needs to Education Abroad so that we can provide you with the support and opportunities to assess which programs/ destinations would be a fit for you and your study interests.

For all travellers, the key to success in studying abroad is based on being flexible and adaptable and expecting that each destination will  vary in accommodations that can be offered. However, more institutions are focusing on accessibility and adaptability for not only visible disabilities but also invisible disabilities.  Doing research ahead of time, asking for support, and making plans to support your individual well-being are also important steps to ensure success.

 

Unfortunately, not all accommodations can be met due to the local host country resources, conditions, the nature of the travel activity or cost.  VIU is committed to working with students to understand their needs and explore travel options that prioritize their safety and wellbeing.

 

We have compiled a list of resources and information to assist you in your exploration for the right Education Abroad program. We also have provided these resources to ensure you can make an informed decision and navigate concerns and considerations.

 

Information was resourced and adapted from: Ryerson University- Go Abroad pageDiversity Abroad, and Go Overseas page.

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • How will I approach travelling on an international airline and in an international airport?
  • What is my study abroad destination's cultural attitude towards individuals with disabilities (mobility, hearing, vision, learning, anxiety, ADHD, etc.)?
  • In what ways should I prepare to adjust to living in a foreign country? (i.e., housing, food, culture, language, healthcare, etc.)
  • What is the physical environment of my study abroad destination or host university like?
  • What are the overall conditions of public sidewalks and pavement of streets?
  • If you require public transportation (i.e., buses, trains, planes) are they accessible?
  • Are there housing options that are accessible and close to studies/work?
  • How many on-site resources (offices, staff, hospitals, counselling centers, note-taking assistants, books on tape, etc.) are offered in my destination/university?
  • How different is the academic environment, and is there flexible accommodations (i.e., for longer test time, reduced workloads, mandatory excursions, etc.?
  • What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad, and while abroad), and how will I overcome them? What support do I need to help overcome these barriers?
  • If I utilize academic, medical, psychological, or other resources at my home institution, will I utilize resources abroad? Where can I find the resources I need? What is the financial cost of these resources and what does my insurance cover?
  • Can I bring my prescribed medications through customs and to my host country?

Indicators

  • Disability Laws: Every study abroad location has different laws and regulations regarding individuals with visible and invisible disabilities, the support, and the infrastructure that is provided to aid them. Not all of them will be inclusive and similar to your home country. Some countries might not even have basic support, so it is important to thoroughly research each destination and consider your list of criteria. Through this research process, you may end up removing many of the countries that do not offer you enough support through their legal framework for your disability. You may choose not to study abroad in a host country that does not legally require infrastructure for mobility disabilities, such as wheelchair ramps, let alone other accommodations.
  • University Accommodations: Not all host universities that interest you will provide the assistance required for your particular disability, so you may prioritize partner schools that are able to meet  your needs. Another option is to try and find a solution together with the university. Most of them will want to know what they can do to make you feel more comfortable, so communicating your needs is an important step and may even be able to start some sort of change within that university.

Additional Considerations:

Medical tips:

  • If you take prescription medication, ensure that you have enough for the duration of your stay
  • All medication should be stored in their original containers with labels attached and visible
  • Carry a letter from your physician that describes the medication
  • Carry all essential medications in your carry on
  • Ensure your medication is legal in your destination country
  • Research how to access medical care in the host country that might be specific to your needs
  • Communicate any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns to your Travel Medical Insurance provider to ensure appropriate coverage for your time abroad

Resources:

Funding Opportunities:

  •  

University Partnerships/Local Support

  • Accessibility Services [1] .  If you are registered with VIU Accessibility Services, Education Abroad can work closely with you and an advisor to understand your particular needs and integrate them into your travel planning.  This is a confidential process that requires your consent.

Students, Mental Health and Well-Being

Summary

A key aspect of Education Abroad is the experience of adapting to another culture. The cultural immersion process requires psychological flexibility in the face of different customs, beliefs, and living conditions. These new situations may trigger culture shock while studying abroad, marked by symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, homesickness, and difficulty eating or sleeping, to name a few. The adjustment process, with all its ups and downs,  can be an overwhelming experience for many.  Sometimes, these changes can trigger changes in emotional and mental health and can exacerbate preexisting health conditions.

 

You are encouraged to seek assistance if you need mental health support or have any questions at all. Views, cultural attitudes and beliefs regarding mental health vary greatly around the world, as do the types of resources that are available. Some host countries have a broad range of services, including access to English-speaking or Western-trained providers, while others have more limited options.

 

We have compiled a list of resources and information to assist you in your exploration for the right Education Abroad program. We also have provided these resources to ensure you can make an informed decision and navigate concerns and considerations.

 

Information was resourced and adapted from: Ryerson University- Go Abroad pageDiversity Abroad, and Go Overseas page.

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • What is my study abroad destination's cultural attitude towards individuals with mental health issues?
  • In what ways should I prepare to adjust to living in a foreign country? (i.e., housing, food, culture, language, healthcare, etc.)
  • How do I care for my mental and physical health? Can I incorporate these routines into life abroad?
  • What activities nurture my mental health? Can I maintain these practices while abroad?
  • Do I have specific coping mechanisms that will assist me when I am abroad?
  • Do I have access to the medications I need abroad? If I need to bring them with me, what is my insurance policy on the amount of allowed medication? Do I have the support I need to monitor my medications?
  • Will I need to access therapy abroad? If I use medical/psychological resources at my home institution will I utilize those resources abroad? Does the institution I am travelling to offer these resources? What is the financial cost of these resources?
  • What barriers might I encounter (both in planning to go abroad, and while abroad), and how will I overcome them? What support do I need to help overcome these barriers?

 

Additional Considerations:

Medical tips:

  • If you take prescriptions, ensure that you have enough for the duration of your stay
  • All medication should be stored in their original containers with labels attached and visible
  • Carry a letter from your physician that describes the medication
  • Carry all essential medications in your carry on
  • Ensure your medication is legal in your destination country
  • Research how to access medical care in the host country that might be specific to your needs
  • Communicate any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns to your Travel Medical Insurance provider to ensure appropriate coverage for your time abroad

 

How to Manage Mental Health Abroad (tips):

  • Plan and prioritize: Having a plan in place eliminates unnecessary stress, making your time abroad the exciting experience it should be. Review ‘Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad.’ By reflecting on the aspects of your day-to-day life that bring you a sense of comfort and stability, you can confidently decide which part of the world is the best fit for you.
  • Know your limits: Fear of missing out is a common concern in nearly any study abroad experience. With new people, places and activities seeking your attention, proper self-care often gets placed on the back burner. While it’s important to immerse yourself, knowing when to say “no” is key to avoiding burnout and feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s reading a book, trying mindfulness or practicing a hobby, schedule some me-time in your week to stay refreshed and relaxed.  
  • Embrace cultural differences: Although researching before you travel is an important pre-departure step, remember that things will inevitably be different than home — and different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Being open-minded and going with the flow will help you feel less out of place in your new surroundings. Making local friends, attending a cultural event, joining an activity or team, eating traditional food or taking public transit are a few simple ways to start living like a local while fully appreciating what your new culture has to offer.
  • Find or Build A Community: Depending on your current position abroad (student, intern, or otherwise), you may start to experience a bubble effect that may not be a true reflection of daily life around you. Participating in local organizations enriches your experience, improves your cultural awareness and language ability, and provides you with a completely new set of friends and community that can provide you with alternative perspectives and connections
  • Create a self-care plan: Speak to the university councilor or your councilor to develop a self-care plan. This could consist of regular calls with family and friends back home, weekly journaling and self-reflection, and other techniques to take care of your mental health. You could also consider creating a plan that you could follow in an emergency, including numbers to call and people within your program in your home community and host community that you could talk to about steps to take to make yourself feel safe.

 

Tips for Finding Mental Health Treatment Abroad:

  • If you find yourself experiencing symptoms and are ready to find help there are quite a few options open to you. First and foremost, your school, workplace, or study abroad program usually provides extensive international health care benefits, including coverage for mental health services. However, it is important to consider that these hospitals, while able to provide a high level of care, are subject to local laws and restrictions, and are sometimes less able to provide the care or medication that you need. It is important to note that some countries have different views on mental health and depression.
  • If you are studying abroad at a local university, mental health centers can sometimes be found on campus for an affordable price with professionally trained visiting and/or local professors.
  • If mental health resources are difficult to find in English, consider online therapy options. Now more than ever people are using online versions of counselling and therapy to assist them with their mental health issues. If you need to wait or are having trouble finding care, try to take care of yourself in the interim and reach out to your support network. It’s important to give yourself extra time, without judgment or self-blame, to do things that may have been simpler to complete at home. Creating a routine, sometimes detailed to the point of having certain playlists for certain times of day can also help in building self-confidence and assurance until you gain the strength needed to embark on bigger adventures and projects. Navigating mental health is a continuous and rocky battle that can be temporary or long-term, but the best thing you can do is recognize your symptoms and don’t be too afraid to seek help.

Online counselling services:

 

 

Resources:

 

University Partnerships/Local Support:

VIU Mental Health Resources + Support

Crisis and Emergency contacts:

 

Service

Contact Information 

Vancouver Island Crisis Line

1-888-494-3888 (24/7)

24/7 Support

Crisis Chat VI Crisis

text (250-800-3806) 

6-10 pm, 7 days a week

First Nations & Inuit helpline & chat

1-855-242-3310

24-7, culturally competent counsellors, services in English, French, Ojibway, Cree, & Inuktitut

Female Students

Whether you have travelled extensively or this is your first time abroad, it’s important to consider your study abroad destinations’ cultural attitude towards gender roles and norms, especially related to women. Some countries have well-defined gender roles that are ingrained in local customs and/or laws, while others are more fluid with their perception of gender. Finding ways to engage with these differences and to learn from them is an important part of cross-cultural understanding.

However, depending on where you go, you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on the culture’s attitudes toward women around gender roles and gender rights. Everyone should consider possible issues, challenges, and changes they may face while abroad regarding societal perceptions of gender, and how these differences may impact your everyday life. Remember that while sexual harassment or assault may be defined differently or not at all in your host country, VIU continues to provide support to students who experience sexual harassment or assault abroad.

We have compiled a list of resources and information to assist you in your exploration for the right Education Abroad program. We also have provided these resources to ensure you can make an informed decision and navigate concerns and considerations. 

 

Information was resourced and adapted from: A female travel guide- Her own way – a woman’s safe-travel guide - Travel.gc.ca, and Study Abroad- safety tips page. 

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • Is it safe for me to go out alone in my study abroad destination? at night? Are there areas or places I should avoid?
  • How are women expected to behave?
  • How are women expected to dress?
  • How do men treat women in my study abroad destination?
  • What are the cultural norms regarding friendship and dating?
  • What contact information should I carry in case my safety is threatened?
  • What forms of transportation are safe for me in my study abroad destination as a female traveller?
  • Can I access birth control, condoms or other contraceptives while abroad?
  • Can I easily access feminine care products that I am used to?
  • What kind of security features are offered in my accommodations (locks on doors/windows, security guard, emergency phone etc.)

Resources:

Additional Considerations/Tips:

  • Research gender roles and their history beforehand.

  • Put your safety first and be aware of your surroundings.

  • Dress and act like the local women to avoid standing out.

  • Be aware of cultural differences, including body language, that may be misinterpreted in your host culture.

  • Talk with other women who have studied abroad to find out more about their experiences.

  • Be aware of your surroundings when abroad, always carry emergency contact information 

  • Create boundaries 

University Partnerships/local support:

LGBTQIA2S+

You may already identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, or you may still be exploring your identity. In either case, you will find that the social climate, laws, and personal interactions of other cultures will often differ. While researching study abroad programs and preparing for departure, it is important to reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of gender and sexual identity. Consider carefully how your identity as a member, questioning member, or ally of the 2SLGBTQ+ community may influence your relationships within your program, your cultural adjustment, and your overall education abroad experience.

It is also important to be aware of the laws on gender and/or sexual identity in your study abroad destination as well as the popular attitudes toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer individuals. Some students feel more accepted abroad than they do in Canada, while others feel discrimination or harassment. Whatever the general attitude is toward gender and/or sexual identity in your study abroad destination, there will be those who dissent from the general attitude one way or the other. Try to talk with other 2SLGBTQ+ students who have studied abroad in your destination country and refer to the resources below as needed.

Information was resourced and adapted from: NYTimes: How to Plan a Safe Trip for Gay and Transgender Travelers, LGBTI Travel Information page, Diversity Abroad- Sexual Orientation Abroad page, and the Gay Travel Index page.

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • How open am I now about my sexual orientation and gender identity? How open am I willing/hoping to be when I am studying abroad?

  • Do I only want to go somewhere that is very tolerant and affirming of my identity? Am I open to going to a country that may discriminate against 2SLGBTQ+ individuals?

  • How important is it to me to find other 2SLGBTQ+ students during my study abroad program?

  • Does the country or host institution I’m interested in having resources available for 2SLGBTQ+ individuals?

  • What are the cultural attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country? What are the local attitudes and customs in the region of the country where I will be studying?

  • Are there any laws restricting same-sex behaviour? What are the laws regarding identity and travel documentation?

  • What types of relationship behaviour is acceptable in my study abroad destination? This can even include hand-holding or association with 2SLGBTQ+ folk.

  • Are there resources available for people of alternative sexual and gender identities in my study abroad destination and institution? 

  • Does my host university have organizations and/or student groups for  2SLGBTQ+ students? Are there  2SLGBTQ+ friendly establishments nearby? 

  • If I need access to medication, supplies, or medical services, will I have access in my host country? Will I need documentation to travel with medication (i.e. hormones)?

 

Indicators 

The Government of Canada’s Travel and Safety Guide outlines the following indicators for 2SLGBTQ+ travel:

  • Visit the Travel Advice and Advisories pages for your destination countries. The “Laws and culture” tab may contain information on the laws and social customs that could affect 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians there. Watch for laws that:

    • criminalize same-sex activities and relationships

    • criminalize people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics

    • Some countries may use laws related to “vagrancy”, “public nuisance” or “public morals” to criminalize 2SLGBTQ+ folk.

    • Research the laws, safety recommendations and social customs related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics in your destination country. 

  • The Government of Canada also provides information about your passport:

    • If your passport indicates “X” as a gender marker or if it indicates, "the sex of the bearer should read as X, indicating that it is unspecified," you might face entry restrictions into some countries that do not recognize your gender.

    • Check the Travel Advice and Advisory for each destination and transit country to find out if you could face entry restrictions.

    • In some cases, even if your Canadian passport indicates an “X” gender marker, you may still be asked to provide binary sex information (either Male or Female) when travelling.

    • If you have changed your name legally, you have to apply for a new passport. For more information on updating your passport, including updating your gender identifier, see Canadian passports.

    • While the Government of Canada recognizes the “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries.

  • If you need help while abroad about 2SLBTQ+ safety issues: 

  • Positive indicators to look for when choosing your destination include:

    • Legalized same-sex marriage

    • 2SLGBTQ+ worker protections

    • Legal protection against anti-discrimination

    • Hate crime penalties

    • Transgender legal identity laws 

 

Additional Tips/Considerations:

Planning your study abroad trip:

The most important step that 2SLGBTQ+ travellers can take during the planning stages to ensure their safety and comfort on a trip is conducting thorough research on their destination. It is important to understand the cultural, legal and security issues that affect the 2SLGBTQ+ community in the locations you are visiting. You should also consider your own profile and if that destination is right for you, as well as the sort of experience you want to have in your travels. You do not necessarily have to avoid a location, but you will have to be aware of how you conduct yourself based on the laws and cultural climate of the place you plan to visit. 

What are some of the cultural considerations to make when researching your destination? In some countries, identifying as 2SLGBTQ+ may simply be culturally frowned upon. In more conservative societies, shows of affection considered innocent by Western standards, like touching or holding hands, even between heterosexual couples, may be against cultural and religious practices.

You should not only research the social norms of the place you are visiting, but also the local laws. In some countries, identifying as 2SLGBTQ+ is illegal. In these locations, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals can be barred from entering the country entirely or can be subject to detention or legal action if suspected of engaging in or promoting homosexual activity.

During your study abroad program:

During your study abroad trip, let a trusted contact back home know your general itinerary, including anyone you have planned to meet while on your trip.

Transgender travellers may face additional scrutiny when departing from and arriving at airports and when navigating the cultural and legal landscape of a different country. When considering a destination, know that some countries may refuse entry to individuals whose documented gender does not reflect their presentation. Understand that cultural attitudes toward and laws regarding transgender people in conservative societies may present an unwelcoming and unsafe environment. 

Transgender folk must make additional considerations when conducting air travel. Security procedures at airports, such as pat-downs, increased scrutiny from security personnel and body scanners, can be distressing to transgender folk, and there are steps that can be taken to be prepared for airport security protocols. Researching the procedures and necessary documentation for airport security in your home country and in your intended destination is important. 

Resources:

 

Funding Opportunities:

  • lgbt-study-abroad-guide.pdf (case.edu) (pg.30)

  • LOUD Foundation: Scholarships are awarded to Canadian LGBTQ+ students who possess the qualities to raise awareness and make a real difference in the community

  • The Bill 7 Award: Financial support is given to LGBTQ+ students who are pursuing their first degree or diploma at any higher-education institute in Ontario

University Partnerships/ local support

Racialized Students

We encourage all VIU students to study abroad, regardless of cultural background. As you research study abroad programs and start the process, you may want to consider how your perceived ethnicity and identity might be understood differently abroad. Be aware of your own cultural assumptions and expectations, and research sites you might be considering so you know what to expect when you go abroad. 

Thinking through how you will handle issues related to your identity and researching potential host countries will better prepare you to make an informed decision so you can maximize your international experience. We have compiled a list of resources and information to assist you in your exploration for the right Education Abroad program. Ask your program coordinator to provide country-specific information on the racial climate in places you might be considering. We want to support you as much as possible, so please let us know what questions or concerns you have.

Information was resourced and adapted from: ALLABROAD.us page, Diversity Issues in Study Abroad-Brown University, and Study Abroad Matters page. 

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • How is my race/ethnicity perceived in the study abroad destinations that I'm considering? Are there stereotypes associated with my race/ethnicity?

  • What are the cultural norms of my study abroad destination? Are there religious/cultural institutions or practices that they adhere to?

  • Do any of the destinations I'm considering have a history of prejudice/discrimination or acceptance/inclusion with my ethnic group?

  • Am I going to be treated the same way abroad as I am in Canada? Will I be perceived as a minority or majority for the first time?

  • Is there a history of ethnic or racial tension in the countries I'm considering? If so, is the situation currently hostile to members of a minority race, majority race, or particular ethnicity or religion?

  • Are there laws governing race relations? Ethnic relations? What protections are offered to ethnic or racial minorities?

  • How will I react if I encounter racism or other discriminatory behaviour?

  • Is it likely that I will experience discrimination in my host country?  Historically, have people of colour experienced discrimination in my host country?

  • Will I be able to find appropriate hair care and skincare products and services in my host country? 

  • What types of experiences do students of colour typically have on the programs (or in the country) I am considering?

  • For heritage seekers: I will be studying in the country my parents are from, but I have never been there before and I don't speak the language. Can I contact other heritage students who may have done this before me so I can learn from their experiences?

 

Additional Considerations:

  • Assumptions about the social groups associated with your nationality may cause others abroad to question your origins, they may ask you about your nationality and cultural heritage. It is important to recognize these questions are most likely a result of a lack of awareness about social demographics rather than prejudice

  • You may also encounter curious locals if you are visiting a racially homogenous area. If it makes you uncomfortable, politely express your discomfort and they will most likely respect your boundaries. If they are making you feel unsafe, reach out to your support network, the institution or program, or education abroad for additional resources and support. 

  • Social support in your travel destination and at home can help you navigate a new culture that will likely include new racial/ethnic relations. Always carry a list of who to contact when you feel like your race or ethnic background are being discriminated against while abroad.

  • Complete some research before you depart about any race-specific products that you use to see if they are available/ accessible in your travel abroad destination (ex: hair and beauty products). Always plan to bring extra ahead of time. 

  • A strong support system of family and friends at home may also help you deal with any challenges abroad, including feelings of isolation, homesickness and culture shock.

  • Researching and understanding the social and historical situation in your study abroad destination can also help you to prepare for the transition on your study abroad trip, as well as how to transition home. This helps you prepare for any incidents, barriers or issues that may arise. 

  • You may also find it empowering to facilitate conversations about race and ethnicity, however you are participating in a study abroad trip so don’t feel pressured to explain your identity to everyone. 

  • Do choose activities and opportunities that suit you and that you have identified as safe 

  • Remember it is not your duty to educate everyone on your identity- enjoy this experience for its education purposes and self-discovery. 

  • Also, remember that discrimination may lead to violence. Put your safety as the main priority and trust your instincts. Make sure someone always knows where you are, even if it's a trusted friend in your home country that you check in with regularly. 



Resources:

Indigenous Students

Vancouver Island University is situated on the traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples and is fortunate to host a large number of Indigenous students. We recognize and celebrate the importance of our Indigenous faculty, staff and students and are committed to providing opportunities for engagement and inclusion in all of our international programming and initiatives. 

 

Engaging in global learning activities and programming is an excellent way to gain new perspectives and develop unique academic and personal skills. Not only are you progressing in your studies, but you are also learning outside of the classroom by having the opportunity to expand your circle of belonging and connect with new lands and cultures. 

There are some basic things that all students should be considering in their exploration of study abroad- i.e. why participate, which program and destination to choose, and how to fund your study abroad program of choice. However, as an Indigenous student, you may have specific questions and concerns about participating in study abroad. 

 

You may also have other personal identities that you are considering while deciding the program that is right for you, such as multi-racial, 2SLGBTQ+, a student with a disability, First-Gen, financial need, and/or a mature student. These intersecting identities make you unique. As a result, your education abroad experience will also be uniquely yours. We have compiled a list of resources and information to assist you in your exploration for the right Education Abroad program. The Education Abroad office is here to help you navigate through the process and answer any questions you may have. 

 

Information was resourced and adapted from: Ryerson University- Go Abroad page, Geneseo - Study Abroad’s Native American Students Abroad, AllAbroad’s What About Discrimination for Native American Students and Otago Daily Times. 

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • How is my ethnicity/race perceived in my study abroad destination? What stereotypes exist about Indigenous people in my study abroad destination? How are local Indigenous groups perceived there?

  • What kind of groups or organizations exist in my study abroad destination/ institution for my ethnic/racial group? What resources will be available there?

  • What are the cultural norms of my study abroad destination country? 

  • Does my destination country have religious/cultural institutions or practices that they adhere to?

  • Am I going to be treated the same way abroad as I am in Canada?

  • What is the relationship between my study abroad destination and my home country?

  • How will I react if I encounter racism or other discriminatory behavior?

  • What are my resources if I experience racial or discriminatory incidents? Does my program/institution have support staff that will understand and help me through any racial or discriminatory incident I may face?

  • Will I have access to Elders? To Indigenous health and medicine?

  • How comfortable am I reaching out to local Indigenous groups for support?

Additional Considerations:

  • Social support in your study abroad destination and at home can help you navigate a new culture that will likely include new racial/ethnic relations. Know who to contact when you feel like you are discriminated against while abroad. Having a support system of family and friends may also help you deal with feelings of isolation and culture shock.

  • Knowing the social and historical situation in your study abroad destination can help you prepare for the transition from Canada and back.

  •  While abroad, others may identify you as Canadian first, as opposed to Indigenous. Others may not be aware of the history of settler colonialism in Canada, or the effects it has to this day on Indigenous nations and communities. 

  • A strong support system of family and friends at home may also help you deal with any challenges abroad, including feelings of isolation, homesickness and culture shock.

  • You may also find it empowering to facilitate conversations about race and ethnicity, however, you are participating in a study abroad trip so don’t feel pressured to explain your identity to everyone. 

  • Do choose activities and opportunities that suit you and that you have identified as safe 

  • Remember it is not your duty to educate everyone on your identity- enjoy this experience for its education purposes and self-discovery. 

  • Also, remember that discrimination may also lead to violence. Put your safety as the main priority and trust your instincts. Make sure someone always knows where you are, even if it's a trusted friend in your home country that you check in with regularly. 

Resources:

Reasons to Study Abroad for Native American Students

What About Discrimination for Native American Students- All Abroad U.S. is a U.S.-based organization that aims to help students study abroad. While the article is written for U.S. Native American Students, its message has similar implications for Indigenous students in Canada. 

How to Engage in Challenging Conversations Abroad - An article from Diversity Abroad.

Increasing Access for Indigenous Students in International Ed - An article by a staff member of CISAbroad, a private organization that helps students study or intern abroad. 

Experience spurred study of own culture - An article about Miranda Livers, a student with Cherokee heritage, who participated in an Indigenous exchange program at the University of Otago, New Zealand. 

Student experiences participating in a Cross-Cultural Indigenous Knowledge Exchange- Through the University of Northern British Columbia.

Mature Students and Students with Families

For mature students and/or students with families, participating in a study abroad program can offer great opportunities and unique challenges. You may be a parent, have responsibilities to other family members or have a full-time job, and fitting classes in when you have time. However, with some additional research and consideration, participating in education abroad is possible. There are a variety of programs, after deciding which program works best for you, there will be some additional planning to ensure that your unique needs are met. 

Here are some considerations and additional resources to assist you in your education abroad journey! 

Information was resourced and adapted from: Ryerson University- Go Abroad page, GoAbroad.com website, and Transitions Abroad page. 

Mature Students

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • What length of program would work best for me?
    Short-term global learning programs may work better for students with multiple commitments. There are short-term programs available in many VIU programs throughout the year, ranging from two to 12 months. However, don’t automatically discount longer programs. Advanced planning and commitment to identify options that work for your unique situation are possible and essential to feasibility.

  • What type of living situation are you comfortable in? It’s important to know what works for you.

  • What would be the costs associated with going abroad?

  • Does your work allow you to take time off, as either vacation, sabbatical or unpaid leave? Will you be able to go back to work when you return?

  • Is there an ex-pat community or cultural centre that you can connect with? Is there a mature student support office or community to connect with?

Resources:

 

Students with Children

Questions to consider when preparing to study abroad

  • What length of program would work best for me?
    Short-term global learning programs may work better for students with multiple commitments. There are short-term programs available in many VIU programs throughout the year, ranging from two to 12 months.However, don’t automatically discount longer programs. Advanced planning and commitment to identify options that work for your unique situation are possible and essential to feasibility.

  • What type of living situation are you comfortable in? It’s important to know what works for you.

  • What would be the costs associated with going abroad?

  • Can I bring my child abroad with me? What additional costs do I need to account for this?

  • Am I going to be travelling abroad with a spouse or partner that will be able to care for our child while I am in class? If not, what childcare options are available at my host university/study abroad destination or in my host city that will work for my budget?

  • What childcare or schools are available and accessible to me?

  • Will my study abroad program provide housing options to accommodate my family? Are there off-campus housing options that are accessible to me?

  • What are the immigration rules surrounding bringing my family with me to study, work or do research abroad? Would they require separate visas? Would their visas allow them to enroll in school or to work? If they are on a tourist visa, would they need to leave the country and re-enter with a new visa while I am studying? How much will additional visas cost?

  • What are the local and cultural norms around raising a family? How will your unique family structure be perceived in your destination of choice?

  • What are the local and cultural norms around parenting and childcare? (e.g. daycare services, how to deal with misbehaviour, notions of discipline). 

  • Is there an ex-pat community or cultural centre that you and/or your family can connect with? Is there a mature student support office or community to connect with?

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