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Things to Consider
When thinking about studying abroad, it can be a nerve-wracking and slightly intimidating experience. That experience becomes even more intimidating when you’re unaware of whether your host country or community has the resources to help with your disability. Here are a few key things to keep in mind before studying abroad:
  • Consider which countries have legal protections or considerations for citizens who have disabilities. Look at the table below from www.disabled-world.com to see which countries around the world have constitutional protections for disabilities. Also, click here to see which countries around the world signed the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities to see which areas of the world are actively thinking more about accessibility.
  • The United States is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Many other countries do not have the level of diversity that the US does on a daily basis. That means that a lot of people might not have encountered a person who has a specific disability, or might not know if some behaviors are seen as inappropriate. For example, in some countries, locals may assume that because you have a disability, you want or need help. Students should communicate with the locals on how you would like them to act towards you and what makes you comfortable versus uncomfortable.
  • Keep in mind that just because a country does not have many legal protections for accessibility or to help people with disabilities, this does not definitively mean that the country as a whole will be rude or hostile. As a general rule, cultural attitudes change much faster than laws.
  • Think about the different resources you need to have with your disability (i.e. medication, a wheelchair, different equipment etc.). Are those resources available in your chosen country? Will they be able to assist you with any equipment or backup equipment you may need? These are important things to keep in mind.
Accessible international laws
How do I get Started?
When you start thinking about studying abroad, here are some basic steps to follow in how to select your program, apply for it, and prepare for your country of choice.
  1. Talk to a study abroad advisor.                                                                                                                  Come to the International Education Center at the Bone House and talk to one of our expert Study Abroad Advisors! Our Study Abroad Advisors can give you all kinds of advice on which programs would be best for you and your major, as well as what countries are more accessible.
  2. Narrow down location options.                                                                                                                   Do some research on countries you’re interested in and see what their general attitudes are towards people who have a disability.
  3. Search for the right program.                                                                                                                      Pick a program that fits you & your major, as well as one that’s in a country where you feel comfortable!
  4. Research scholarship opportunities.                                                                                                          There are a lot of scholarships that can help you finance your trip, especially for students with disabilities! Georgia College has its own New Horizons Scholarship that is specifically for students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, students of color and students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
  5. Read up on locations of interest.                                                                                                                 Do some more research in preparation, and see if you can find any people with disabilities who have been there before!
  6. Apply and finalize trip.
  7. Talk to the program director.                                                                                                                        The program director will likely know more nuanced details about the specific areas where you will travel. They can also let you know if there are any other students with disabilities going on the program.
  8. Arrive and adjust.‚Äč
Study Abroad Tips
There are a few different ways you can prepare for your study abroad program, and to know what kind of reception you can expect from locals when you get there.
  • Are there any other students with disabilities on GC’s campus that have traveled abroad or are currently abroad that you could talk to? If so, find out how comfortable they felt in their host country, how they were received by the locals there, and how they reacted if people were unkind towards them.
  • What are some strategies you can use if someone does react unkindly or uncomfortably towards you based on your disability? Talk to the staff at the Student Disability Resource Center about strategies before you leave.
  • Research, research, RESEARCH! Take time to research the country or town where you will be staying. See what the local cultural norms/ attitudes are towards disabilities so you can be prepared before you leave. Also, see what protections currently exist for people with disabilities, and how that country has implemented those protections. Finally, see if there are any local disability rights organizations or networks in the country you plan to visit, so you know who you could direct specific questions or concerns towards when you are abroad.
Resources
For more information on preparations before going abroad while having a disability, please click here or here.
 
For more information on levels of accessibility and travel considerations abroad, please click here or here.

To learn more about what it’s like to be a student abroad with a disability, click here, here or here.
 
 
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