Diverse Populations

According to the International Institute of Education’s (IIE) Open Doors Report, of the 304,467 students who studied abroad for credit during the 2013-14 academic year, approximately 25.7% of students identified as racially or ethnically diverse. Auburn Abroad wants to ensure all students have access to study abroad opportunities and are always available to speak with students should they wish to discuss any apprehensions about a study abroad experience.

All students have concerns about how they will be perceived by their host culture, what courses will be like, and what it will be like to live so far away from home, but students who identify as racially or ethnically diverse may also worry about the chances of experiencing discrimination while abroad. Such occurrences will greatly depend on the country in which you choose to study, but keep in mind that your racial and ethnic identity is not the only identity you are carrying! For instance, people in your host country might be much more interested in your identity as a citizen of the United States than your racial or ethnic identity. If you study in a country that shares your racial or ethnic minority, you may no longer be perceived as a minority at all. The key to a successful experience abroad is adequate preparation, so talking with people who have been to your host country or reviewing resources such as those below will help you learn what to expect.


Auburn Abroad recognizes that AU’s 500+ student athletes work hard to balance their studies and the grueling team schedule as they navigate the life of a student and elite athlete. It may seem impossible to fit a study abroad experience into their four-year plan, but we believe the benefits of a program abroad are worth the effort it takes to make it happen, even if it is for a short-term program during the off-season!

Things to Consider

  • Given that there is no true “off-season” for student athletes, we strongly recommend meeting with your coaching staff and academic advisors early in your college career to find a time that will be most appropriate to study abroad.
  • Before you depart on your study abroad program, meet with the Director of Compliance to ensure you will remain in compliance with the rules of the NCAA in regards to things such as compensation, coaching, and competition.
  • Studying abroad does not mean that you must stop training! Reach out to your faculty director or program provider to ensure that there will be adequate training facilities in your host country.


Traveling exposes the intersectionality of our many competing identities, and depending on the destination, LGBTQ students may find that attitudes toward sexual orientation varies greatly. Some countries may have attitudes that are more accepting than in the United States, but there are others in which the opposite is true. Additionally, laws may not tolerate the LGBTQ population, and if a student is incarcerated abroad for any reason, there is little that anyone in the United States can do to help. Auburn Abroad is available to speak with students who may have any concerns, but personal research on local laws, customs, and resources in countries of interest will help you choose a location in which you will feel comfortable and safe. Look for answers to the following questions:

  • Are there any campus or local resources for those who identify as a part of the LGBTQ community?
  • What are the norms of the LGBTQ community in the host country?
  • Are there local meeting places (bars, clubs) for members of the LGBTQ community?
  • Is local LGBTQ media available? This will help you learn first-hand information of your host country.


Degree-seeking international students at Auburn University are able to study abroad through Auburn programs while still receiving AU financial aid. As an international student, you have a unique opportunity to “double-dip” in study abroad – not only are you studying in a foreign country by attending Auburn University, but you can study in another country to further diversify your international experiences!

Please note: Only matriculated international students at Auburn University are eligible to study abroad. Additionally, you must use an Auburn program, and you may not study in your home country.

Be sure to speak with your international student advisor early in the study abroad process to ensure that your U.S. student visa status stays valid despite leaving the country for an extended period of time. Also inform Auburn Abroad that you are an international student so we can work with your international student advisor to review the necessary steps to obtain the visas needed for your study abroad program.

Being the first person in your family to attend college is a challenge in itself, so we understand the apprehensions first-generation college students have about undertaking an academic program outside the United States. However, research shows study abroad experiences are valuable on both an academic and professional level. Students who study abroad perform better academically, are more likely to graduate, and are more competitive in the job market than their peers without an international experience.

Multiple resources are available to assist you throughout the study abroad process, and as with most things, adequate preparation is key. We encourage you to speak with Auburn Abroad to learn how to make a study abroad program part of your college experience. There are programs for every budget, major, and length of time.


With proper planning, students with disabilities are able to participate in study abroad programs. Though there are many considerations, do not let this curb your enthusiasm for having an international experience. Research possible disability accommodations and MIUSA’s free one-on-one referral service for students with a disability. Additionally, consider the following when searching for the best program for you:

  • Locations in Western Europe, Canada, Australia, or cities that have hosted the Olympics within the last 10 years.
  • Programs of shorter length that offer a reduced course load, living arrangements with other Americans, and experienced on-site staff (not all destinations may have proper accommodations for each student)

In terms of funding, students with disabilities may be able to use the following financial assistance depending on their study abroad program. However, it is important to note that the Social Security Administration cannot send payments to a number of countries, and if you are accepted to a funded study abroad program such as the Fulbright Program, you may not be eligible to receive these funds. Contact the AU Office of Accessibility to determine the aid for which you qualify.

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

You may also be eligible to use the Pell Grant or apply for the Gilman Scholarship.


Student veterans and families of veterans may use their Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) toward study abroad programs. Both Auburn Abroad and the AU Veterans Resource Center must be involved in this process to ensure proper allocation of funds. If you receive VA benefits, be sure to begin the study abroad process as early as possible and indicate to Auburn Abroad that you receive these benefits. Please note that students must use an Auburn program, as VA benefits cannot be used to pay for affiliate programs.

Things to keep in mind when using the Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) to study abroad:

  • All eligible fees will be paid for up front with the exception of tuition fees (which are normally the largest portion of the costs covered by VA). Tuition will be reimbursed after the student’s grades are posted.
  • Courses taken on the study abroad program must apply to the student’s academic program.
  • If choosing to directly enroll at a foreign institution, the foreign institution must be approved by VA in order to receive VA benefits. View a list of approved schools.
  • A breakdown of amounts charged for tuition, lodging, meals, and other expenses must be provided to the AU Veterans Resource Center in order to request payment for a study abroad program. This information can be obtained from the faculty director of the program.
  • Contact AU Veterans Resource Center for additional details and requirements.

Steps for using the Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33) to study abroad:

  • Browse the Program Search (Auburn programs are marked with a star).
  • Meet with an Auburn Abroad coordinator to discuss course transfer and to receive necessary documentation.
  • Meet with the AU Veterans Resource Center to discuss your personal situation regarding VA fund allocation.
  • Complete Auburn Abroad online application.

Women continue to represent a higher percentage of U.S students who study abroad than their male peers, but traveling abroad as an American female can present unique challenges as result of the varying attitudes toward women in different cultures. In some locations, there may be unwritten rules of behavior for women, and the way locals interact with women may be different than in the United States. Research the norms in your host country, including acceptable interactions with the opposite sex, appropriate dress, activities that may be prohibited for women (such as driving), and recommendations for reporting instances of crime and assault. It is important to note that some countries place blame on women for crimes committed against them, which can lead to incarceration. In these cares, there is little the U.S. can do to assist.


Diverse Populations
Last Updated: August 07, 2017