Diversity and Identity Resources

Do you know of a resource that you think should be shared on this page? Do you have other ideas for this page? Please contact the International Programs Office at studyabroad@cortland.edu to let us know.

Did you know that there are many study abroad scholarships specifically for students from historically underrepresented groups? Check out our Study Abroad Scholarships Page to learn more!

Race and Ethnicity

Study abroad offers students the unique and exciting opportunity to learn about and interact with people of different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. Your own racial and ethnic identity is a part of you, and in turn, will travel with you abroad. What will inevitably be different is the way you experience your race/ethnicity overseas – and how your racial/ethnic identity intersects with other identity categories to which you identify (religious, sexual orientation, gender, etc.), and what this means in your host country This process of discovery is one of the primary benefits of a study abroad experience, but one that you can and should prepare for as your internal journey of self-discovery will take place alongside your engagement with your host community.  In most cases, your interaction with host nationals will be among the most rewarding aspects of your experience abroad. It is important to keep in mind though that just like in your home country, there are complex histories and relations of power connected to race and ethnicity in your host country, which are likely different than those in your home country. This will impact how you are perceived and how you experience your race/ethnicity in this new context. 

In some situations, your race or ethnicity may be read or interpreted differently than students are accustomed to in the United States or their home nations. Students may also encounter different cultural norms related to race and majority/minority status, where racism and other forms of discrimination are performed, viewed, and addressed in ways that are different from which students are accustomed. Understanding how cultural differences can impact perceptions of race, ethnicity, and identity in an international context is an important component of your preparation to study abroad. Some questions to consider as you begin your research into the perceptions of race and ethnicity in a possible host country are suggested below.

Questions to consider:

  • What are some common perceptions and stereotypes about my race or ethnicity in my host country?
  • What is the racial history of my host country? Which racial groups are privileged over others?
  • Does my own race/ethnicity align with dominant or subordinate racial groups in my host country?
  • Does my host country have a history of prejudice/discrimination or acceptance/inclusion with my ethnic group?
  • Am I going to be treated the same way in my host country as I am in the US or my home nation? Will I be in the minority/majority for the first time?
  • Is there a history of racial or ethnic tension in my host country? Is the issue of immigration a source of racial or ethnic tension currently?
  • What is the relationship between my host country and the United States? How will you be perceived as an American in your host country?
  • How will I react if I encounter racism or other discriminatory behavior?
  • How will my personal racial or ethnic identity shape my experience abroad?
  • How do I demonstrate to my family that a study abroad experience will benefit my academic and career goals?

If you have additional questions or concerns, please consider meeting with a study abroad advisor in our office. You can contact the International Programs Office at studyabroad@cortland.edu or visit our office in Old Main, Room 219.


Resources to Consider:

Diversity Abroad

Black & Abroad

All Abroad


Leave Them Woke in Your Wake: 9 Truths for Black Students Traveling Abroad

Traveling with Natural Hair

Traveling While Black


One Girl, One World

Airbnb while Black: How to Avoid Racism while Traveling

*The International Programs Office encourages students to discuss their options for financing study/travel abroad with their family and a financial aid advisor. While this article encourages signing up for and using a travel-rewards credit card, there are many different ways to finance your times abroad, and we encourage students to make financial choices that are right for them.

6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad as an African American

Misconceptions about Latinx Students & Study Abroad Debunked

10 reasons for Hispanic-American Students to Study Abroad

Studying Abroad as a Latina First-Generation College Student

As an Asian American Abroad

What it’s like living and working as a Native American in Mongolia

The Joy and Pain of Traveling while Non-White

LGBTQ+ Students

While selecting a study abroad program, it is important to know that views on gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression vary from country to country, region to region, and from person to person.   It is important to consider how these aspects of the host country culture might influence your experience, your cultural adjustment, how you chose to express your identity, and in some cases, your wellness and safety.  Some countries may be more open and accepting than what you have experienced in your life, while other countries may hold more conservative views.

To understand potential differences, we recommend that you research laws and customs related to LGBTQ+ communities in your destination country/city. Laws in some countries, for example, can offer fewer protections to LGBTQ+ community members and may, in fact, increase legal risks.  Even where LGBTQ+ expression and identities are legal, local norms and customs may inhibit displaying gender identity, discussing sexual orientation, or some sexual behaviors.  Transgender and non-binary students might face challenges if officials perceive differences between your gender presentation and how your name or gender is recorded on your legal documents or plane ticket. Also, be aware that, just like in the United States, there may be cities or parts of a particular country that may be more accepting than others.

By learning as much as possible about the local host community’s context related to LGBTQ+ communities, you can narrow down your study abroad options to ones that will meet your needs, interests, and desired comfort level. As you begin your study abroad search, below are some questions to consider, along with links to further resources.

Questions to consider:

  • What are the laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in the host country?
  • To what extent do the host country’s laws, religious or cultural values, norms, or traditions support or inhibit LGBTQ+ rights or expression?
  • Are there safety considerations to be aware of?
  • If you are transgender, do you need to obtain a new passport with your updated gender?
  • What are the cultural norms for dating and friendship?
  • Is there a visible LGBTQ+ community in the host country/city? How might that community be different from that in your own community?
  • Does your study abroad program offer LGBTQ+-friendly housing? If there is a homestay situation, will the host family be accepting of your identity?
  • Will you need access to any medications, supplies, or services to care properly for your medical needs, including those related to physical transition (if applicable), such as hormones? If so, are they available in your host country?  If not, will you need any additional documentation to travel with any medications or supplies?  Will it be possible to travel legally with these supplies?
  • What LGBTQ+ resources are available to you in the host country?

If you have additional questions or concerns, please consider meeting with a study abroad advisor in the International Programs Office, or contacting Dr. Erin Morris, Assistant Professor of Sports Management, SOGIE committee co-chair, and study abroad advocate for LGBTQ+ students. You can contact the International Programs Office at: studyabroad@cortland.edu and Dr. Erin Morris at: erin.morris02@cortland.edu.

As you narrow down, or identify where you are interested in studying abroad, the International Programs Office may be able can put you in touch with a person in your destination country who can provide some local context to support your online research.

LGBTQ+ Travel Resources

US Department of State LGBTI Traveler Information

International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

Diversity Abroad

Spartacus Gay Travel Index

GlobalGayz.com: Travel and Culture Website focused on LGBT-Gay life worldwide.

UCLA Social Acceptance of LGBT People in 174 Countries Report

ILGA World Maps of Sexual Orientation Laws

Travels of Adam

Go Overseas: How to Pick Where to Study Abroad as an LGBTQIA+ Student

Transgender Travel Information

Trans Passport Information

US Department of State Gender Designation Change Information

Other Resources to Consider:

SUNY Plattsburgh Diversity and Identity Resources

Northwestern Global Learning Office

University of Wisconsin-Madison Study Abroad Identity Resources

Vanderbilt Resources for Identity and Culture


When planning to study abroad, it is important to research cultural attitudes towards gender in your destination country. The gender norms and expectations of a country may be quite different from what you are used to experiencing at home. Most cultures have gender-based expectations regarding dress and behavior. It is important to understand these expectations so you can make educated decisions to be both culturally sensitive and safe. If your personal values about gender identity and expression differ from that of your host country, you must consider your comfort level with inhabiting that space. If possible, talk to others who share your gender identity who have studied abroad in the particular country to learn their experiences and what to expect.

Once you’re abroad, your best resource for learning the local cultural norms regarding gender is the local populace. Take your cues from local people in terms of dress and behavior. What may be considered appropriate gender-based behavior in an American context, may not be in your host country and may draw unwanted attention to you. Harassment happens everywhere in the world, but knowing the types of behavior that may elicit unwanted attention in the destination context, will help you make personal choices both as your plan to go abroad and when you have arrived in-country.

Always be sure to prioritize your safety while studying abroad. Take the life-skills you’ve developed living in the US with you when you study abroad, and set realistic expectations for your time overseas. Be sure to exercise common sense; learn the safe and unsafe areas of the city you’re living in, when you go out at night, go out in a group, watch your drinks at the bar, have the local emergency number pre-programmed into your phone, and exercise culturally appropriate behavior. When in doubt, trust your instincts. If a situation is making you uncomfortable, find a way to leave it.

Studying abroad is often the highlight of a student’s college experience. The better prepared you are, the better the experience you will have. Below are some questions and resources regarding gender to help you in the preparation process.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the gender norms in the country in which you want to study?
  • Are there gendered expectations regarding dress, behavior, or engagement with people of other genders?
  • Are these gendered expectations highly politicized or related to religion? How may that impact your experience?
  • Is there a culture of inclusion for people who are gender non-binary or non-conforming?
  • What are the gendered cultural expectations in this country?
  • What are the country’s gender roles? Traditional? Progressive?
  • What are the cultural norms around friendship and dating in your country of choice?
  • How does the country view friendships outside of one’s gender?
  • How do your personal values about socially accepted gender roles compare to the potential host country?
  • What gender-based stereotypes do people in this country have of people from the United States/your country?
  • If you are considering being sexually active while abroad, have you investigated whether condoms, contraceptives, and other sexual health resources are available?
  • What constitutes sexual harassment under local law or understanding?

If you have additional questions or concerns, please consider meeting with a study abroad advisor in the International Programs Office, or contacting Study Abroad Advocate for Gender and Gender Identity, Dr. Jena Curtis. You can contact the International Programs Office at: studyabroad@cortland.edu and Dr. Curtis at jena.curtis@cortland.edu.

For those who identify as gender nonconforming, please also check out the LGBTQ+ section of our identity resource guide.

Further Resources:

State Dept. Information for Women Travelers

Diversity Abroad-Women Going Abroad

Her Own Way-A Woman’s safe-travel guide-Canadian government



API Blog: A Black Woman’s Experience Studying Abroad

What to Wear Where

Transitions Abroad: Women Studying Abroad: Preparation and Support

TheBlondeAbroad: 10 Reasons to Study Abroad

Black Girls Abroad Blog

10 Female Solo Travel Bloggers you Should be Following

Students with Disabilities

Students with all types of disabilities are able and encouraged to study abroad. Like with other identities (such as race, gender, and religion) the culture of disability varies widely from country to county, with some countries being highly inclusive and accessible (perhaps even more so than your home country) and others still making progress. Not every study abroad program is a good fit for every student, but the International Programs Office is dedicated to finding the program that suits each student’s individual needs and interests. Types of accessibility accommodations available vary widely between our programs and students with accessibility needs should take this into consideration during the study abroad selection process. Be prepared to advocate for yourself, potentially more than you’re used to doing here in the U.S., while studying abroad.

Be sure to discuss the accommodations you currently receive in conjunction with your desire to study abroad with the Disability Resources Center at Cortland. Build a list of accommodations that you receive in the US and would like to receive while abroad. From there, we highly encourage you to disclose your needs to your study abroad advisor. Let them know what you need in order to meet your personal, professional, and academic goals while abroad. They will then work with their counterparts abroad to determine which programs provide the support and accommodations that you require. Be sure to begin these discussions with your advisor early so that they have ample time to do any extra outreach needed to determine a program’s viability for you prior to application deadlines.

Questions to consider:

  • How might my accessibility considerations impact which program I choose?
  • Are my accessibility needs only relevant to an academic setting, or do I need do broader research on accessibility in the host community?
  • How accessible are places in my potential host countries?
  • How are people with my disability viewed in the particular country I’m considering studying in?
  • Which of the accommodations I receive are necessary and which are preferred?
  • Do I feel comfortable disclosing my condition to my study abroad advisor? **Health conditions and/or disability considerations are not factored into application decision. Our priority is helping you find a program/location that fits both your interests and your needs and leads to a positive experience. By disclosing early in the program selection process, your study abroad advisor can provide you with the most pertinent information regarding programs.
  • How should I respond if people give me unsolicited help or ask unsolicited questions?
  • Am I willing to disclose my disability to others? In what situations/circumstances do I feel willing to disclose?

If you have additional questions or concerns, please consider meeting with a study abroad advisor in our office, visit the Disability Resources Center, or contact study abroad advocates for students with disabilities, Sue Sprague, Director for Disability Resources or Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, Assistant Director for Disability Resources. You can contact the International Programs Office at: studyabroad@cortland.edu, Sue Sprague at: suzanne.sprague@cortland.edu, and Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman at: jeremy.zhe-heimerman@cortland.edu.    



Mobility International USA

Diversity Abroad

CDC Travelers with Additional Considerations: Travelers with Disabilities

How to Study Abroad With a Disability

Wheelchair Traveling 

CDC Traveling Abroad with a Pet

State Department: Pets and International Travel


How Students with Disabilities can Study Abroad

Mobility International’s A World Awaits You publication


First Generation Students

Just as navigating the college selection and application process was challenging as a first-generation student, it can be challenging to navigate the study abroad process. You, and your family, may have unique concerns and questions about how to select a study abroad program that fits your needs and interests, as well as, your academic requirements and your financial situation. Don’t reject the idea of study abroad just because you don’t know where to start.

Think about why you want to study abroad and how study abroad fits in with your academic and career goals. Start researching. Attend a Study Abroad 101, make an appointment with a study abroad advisor, speak with a returned study abroad student, and meet with your financial aid advisor. All of these things will help you to determine if study abroad is a good fit for you and what possibilities are open to you. It’s never too early to start planning! To get you started, consider some of the questions below.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Since no one in my family has studied abroad, who can help me answer their questions about study abroad?
  • What destination(s) fit my major and my interests?
  • What destination(s) will offer me a rich cultural experience?
  • Is it important that I select a destination with cultural similarities or do I want a completely different experience?
  • With which destinations(s) will my family be more comfortable?
  • How does study abroad contribute to my future career and goals?
  • How will I involve my family in the study abroad process?
  • How will I finance my study abroad experience?
  • How can I stay in touch with my family?

If you have additional questions or concerns, (which is an inevitable part of the study abroad process), please consider meeting with a study abroad advisor in our office. You can contact the International Programs Office at studyabroad@cortland.edu or visit our office in Old Main, Room 219.


Further Resources

Diversity Abroad

All Abroad

I’m First Blog (be sure to search study abroad for specific blogs on study abroad)

Go Abroad: Meaningful Travel Tips and Tales: First Gen. Students Abroad

Center for First-Generation Student Success


Diversity Abroad: First Generation Students Traveling Abroad

Diversity Abroad: Taking Advantage of Resources as a First Generation College student

IES Abroad: Student Voices: Being a First-Generation Student Abroad

IFSA: Broke and Abroad (Yes, it is Possible)

Transfer Students

As with almost every other aspect of the transfer student experience, planning ahead for study abroad is vital to success. Transfer students are able to study abroad and are highly encouraged to do so. Studying abroad looks great on a résumé, allows students to gain real-world experience, delve deeper into a particular interest area, and explore the world. Credit obtained through a study abroad program counts as SUNY Cortland credit, even if you choose to study abroad through an Other-SUNY and doesn’t count towards your transfer credit maximum. Transfer students are able to study abroad as early as their second semester at SUNY Cortland. If studying abroad in your second semester is something that interests you, be sure contact the International Programs Office to learn about your adjusted application process.

Even if you have other life commitments like a job, children, or you provide elderly care, there may still be a study abroad option for you. We offer a variety of programs with durations ranging from 10 days abroad to a full-academic year. Programs are offered in the traditional fall and spring academic semesters, but also over winter break and the summer. This flexibility offers a wealth of opportunities for our students. The International Programs Office is here to help you select a program that makes sense for you.

Your academic program and how many credits you transferred into Cortland will help you determine which study abroad opportunities are the best fit for you. Talk to your transfer advisor, your academic advisor, and a study abroad advisor about your desire to study abroad as soon as possible. They will be able to help you plan ahead to give you the most options possible. In beginning your study abroad planning as a transfer student, here are some questions to consider:

  • What other time commitments do you have in your life (family, job, etc.) and how do they impact what type of study abroad program you can choose?
  • What does your graduation plan look like?
    • Which courses must you take for your major at SUNY Cortland?
    • Do you have any electives left to take?
    • Do you have any general education requirements left to take?
    • Does your major require you to take flexible major electives?
    • Do you need to complete an internship to graduate? Can it be done abroad?
  • Does your major line up well with a particular partner institution or faculty-led program?
  • Are you comfortable studying abroad in your last semester?
  • Which scholarships can you leverage your transfer experience for?

If you have additional questions or concerns, please consider meeting with a study abroad advisor in the International Programs Office, or contacting study abroad advocate for transfer students, Lori Schlicht, Associate Director for Academic Engagement  You can contact the International Programs Office at: studyabroad@cortland.edu and Lori Schlicht at: Lori.Schlicht@cortland.edu.   


How does a First-Generation, Non-Traditional Student Study Abroad?

Must Ask Questions for Adult Students Traveling Abroad

On Being a Nontraditional Study Abroad Student

Study Abroad Tips for Transfer Students

Religion and Spirituality

Religion is often a large part of a country’s culture and identity. Many cultural traditions are entwined with religious ones and exploring a country’s religious background and traditions can be an enriching part of your experience abroad. It is important to do research prior to studying abroad to become aware of how religion can impact your study abroad experience in a particular country. While you may be part of the religious majority in the United States that may not be the case when you study abroad. 

If you are religious yourself, it is important to think through how your experience abroad may be impacted by your faith. If you plan to worship while abroad, it’s important to learn more about the area you’ll be living in and the places of worship available to you there. Not all countries have a culture of religious plurality—some in fact have a state-sponsored religion—and may not be tolerant of you openly practicing your faith. If you follow a special diet, it is important to learn ahead of time if you’ll have access to halal or kosher grocery stores or if you’ll be living in a situation with a group kitchen.  It’s also important to do research as to whether you are allowed to wear religious articles of clothing or symbols in your host country, or if in turn you’ll be expected to dress in a certain way connected to the dominant religion of the country.

Studying abroad is an opportunity to learn more about, and grow in, all aspects of yourself, including your faith. As you continue the study abroad research process, here are some questions for you to think through regarding religion and spirituality.

Questions to consider:

  • What is the dominant religion in your host country? Are all religions tolerated? To what degree?
  • How is your religion similar to the primary religion of your host country? Does it share similar roots?
  • How does your host country perceive atheism or agnosticism?
  • Are there laws regarding religion in your host country?
  • Is there a separation of government and religion?
  • Will you be part of the religious majority or the religious minority?
  • Is it safe for you to wear religious symbols and clothing?
  • Do you plan to practice your religion while abroad? If so, are there any places of worship particular to your religion in your host city? If not, how do you plan to practice your religion?
  • Do you have religious dietary restrictions? Can they be accommodated in your host city/country?
  • If your program includes a homestay, can they accommodate your dietary restrictions? How open are you to living with a host family of another religion? How will you respond if your host family, or other host community member invites you to take part in a religious ceremony or ritual?
  • Are there any places of worship you plan to visit as part of your study abroad program? If so, what do you need to know prior to visiting (such as dress code)?

If you have additional questions or concerns, please consider meeting with a study abroad advisor in our office. You can contact the International Programs Office at studyabroad@cortland.edu or visit our office in Old Main, Room 219.



Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom

BBC Religions

The Pluralism Project: Harvard University

Kahal: Your Jewish Home Abroad

Jewish Travel Advisor

Muslims Abroad: Resources for Muslim students from Rutgers University

Halal Trip: City Guides for Muslim Travelers

Christianity Today International

*Many Christian denominations have their own specific church directories. Try searching your host country/city, and your denomination

Catholic Directory

World Buddhist Directory

Humanists International


Diversity Abroad: Feeding My Faith as a Global Citizen

IES Abroad: Keeping the Faith: Religious Differences and Experiences Abroad

IES Abroad: Finding my Home in Amsterdam: A Wandering Jew Takes Europe

GoAbroad: 7 Best Resources to Share with Jewish Students Traveling Abroad

The ISA Journal: What It’s like to Fast for Ramadan in Morocco