Diversity and Identity Questions
These are just some of the questions you may be thinking about as you consider studying away or prepare to depart for your program. So, let’s start a conversation to talk through your questions and concerns and work collectively to address them. Please visit BOSP’s Study Away Advising page for more information about how to connect with BOSP.
- Can I afford to study away with BOSP? How much will this cost me and my family?
- I have severe dietary requirements…can these be accommodated on BOSP programs?
- I have never been overseas and am not sure if this opportunity is right for me. What can I do beforehand to decide if I want to study abroad?
- I have a medical accommodation or accessibility/mobility needs. How will I receive support during my participation?
- As a student-athlete, I just don’t have time to study away. Even if I could fit it in…how would I continue my training schedule while off campus?
- Will certain aspects of my identity (racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexuality, etc.) be perceived differently abroad? Will I face different types of discrimination abroad? Will my homestay family treat me differently because of any aspects of my identity(ies)?
- I’m worried about traveling overseas because of how my gender identity or sexual identity will be perceived. How will I be treated at my program location? What if I have specific housing requests?
- I want to continue observing my religion while I'm away as I do on campus but am unsure if my program schedule will allow it or if I will be able to find places of worship I identify with at my program site.
- How will people abroad react when they learn that I go to Stanford and/or am from the United States? Will they make assumptions about my class identity and how can I constructively respond to these assumptions?
Stanford is committed to providing all undergraduates the opportunity to study away through BOSP regardless of financial circumstances. BOSP’s quarter-length programs are fee neutral, which means the basic cost of studying on one of these programs is close to the cost of remaining on campus for a quarter. You will continue to pay Stanford tuition and your financial aid continues uninterrupted. Instead of paying for housing and a meal plan as you would on campus, you will pay an Overseas Fee, which is roughly equivalent and includes room and board. While students are responsible for covering the cost of airfare to and from the program location, students may receive a one-time travel grant to help cover this cost based on their existing financial aid package.
Students studying abroad on a BOSP Short-term Faculty-led Program pay a highly subsidized program fee. Stanford provides students on all short-term programs with room and board, transportation and course activities for the duration of the program. Depending on your financial aid package, you may eligible to receive financial assistance towards the program fee and the cost of travel.
Please visit BOSP’s Financing Study Abroad at Stanford and the Financial Aid Office’s Study Abroad/Away pages to learn more. BOSP also encourages you to discuss your financial plan with BOSP staff and a Financial Aid Counselor early in your Stanford career so you can plan accordingly and limit unexpected expenses whenever possible.
It is true that meal options and access to certain types of food and cuisine abroad will not be the same as on campus. Each country has its own rich historical and cultural relationship with food so having an open mind and being willing to try new things and explore these culinary traditions can be an exciting aspect of studying abroad. That being said, BOSP recognizes that you may have dietary requirements or food allergies which may not allow you to eat certain foods for medical, religious, and/or ethical reasons. In these cases, we can discuss whether alternative meal options or arrangements will be available on your program of interest. BOSP staff members are available to have a conversation about any dietary or allergy concerns you may have prior to applying for a program. After you have been accepted or waitlisted for a BOSP program, you will complete an Orientation Form, which will ask you to provide information about your food allergies and dietary requirements. This information will also be used to start a conversation about your situation and discuss what options are available.
I have never been overseas and am not sure if this opportunity is right for me. What can I do beforehand to decide if I want to study abroad?
First and foremost, it is important to critically reflect on your own reasons for studying away and to define your goals and objectives. Think about your academic, personal, and professional goals and how studying abroad will help you achieve these goals (the more specific you can be the better). Reflect on your specific program(s) of interest and how they are structured. Think about what type of structure will best support your goals and seriously reflect on whether studying abroad is the best or only way to achieve these goals. We also recommend bringing others into the conversation to incorporate their perspectives. Discuss your options with your peers, family, faculty in your department, Academic Advisers and BOSP staff or Student Ambassadors.
Ultimately, it is important to think about what you will be gaining and giving up by studying abroad. By considering the decision from different angles and incorporating outside perspectives in this process, you will be more confident in your final decision about whether or not to study abroad.
I have a medical accommodation or accessibility/mobility needs. How will I receive support during my participation?
Regardless of your particular needs, BOSP will work closely with you, the Office of Accessible Education (OAE), and the Diversity and Access Office (D&A Office) to discuss your accommodation needs. Collectively, we will think through how you navigate spaces on campus and how that will shift when you go abroad. BOSP, OAE, and the D&A Office are open to and excited about exploring various options, and look forward to discussing suggestions you may have for navigating your study abroad location (the BOSP center, your homestay/residence, local public transportation, etc.). We encourage you to self-disclose information about your needs on your Orientation Form, which you will complete on our online application system after you are accepted or waitlisted for your program. The information you provide on this form will enable BOSP and our campus partners to begin working with you to discuss options and solutions as you prepare to go abroad.
As a student-athlete, I just don’t have time to study abroad. Even if I could fit it in…how would I continue my training schedule while off campus?
Time constraints and fitting study away into an academic plan can be particularly challenging for Stanford student-athletes. However, incorporating a study abroad experience into your Stanford career while also maintaining your fitness level and training schedule as a student-athlete is definitely possible. With adequate planning and a determination to study away, you can have an enriching experience and return ready to jump right back into Stanford athletics.
BOSP encourages you to work with your coach, with your academic advisor, and with BOSP staff to determine the ideal quarter(s) to study away based on your team’s reporting season and training schedule. Our staff can provide information about access to specific training facilities abroad given your particular training needs. BOSP also runs shorter faculty-led programs every summer, which some student-athletes find easier to fit into their schedule than a full quarter-length program. These programs change locations and topics every year. Learn more about the current program offerings by visiting the Short-term Faculty-led Programs webpage.
Will certain aspects of my identity (racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexuality, etc.) be perceived differently abroad? Will I face different types of discrimination abroad? Will my homestay family treat me differently because of any aspects of my identity(ies)?
Every society has been shaped by its own unique history, which continues to affect contemporary social dynamics in different ways. The way you experience your identity in the United States (or your own country of origin), will be inherently different than the way you experience your identity in other countries. However, the degree to which these experiences will differ will depend on your own identity(ies) and the location in which you are studying abroad.
These historical and contemporary differences mean it is possible you will face different types of discrimination abroad or be treated differently by your homestay family because of certain aspects of your identities. BOSP works very hard to find homestay families who will be inclusive and accepting of all student identities and will always work to promote student well-being and safety by helping you navigate any issues that arise in the homestay or during your time abroad.
I’m worried about traveling overseas because of how my gender identity or sexual identity will be perceived. How will I be treated overseas? What if I have specific housing requests?
As with most questions of identity, the way you are treated overseas will depend on a lot of factors, perhaps most importantly, where you will be studying abroad. Some countries are more or less culturally accepting of different gender or sexual identities. There can also be great difference in attitudes depending on whether you are studying in an urban or rural setting within the same country.
In addition to cultural and social attitudes, it is important to understand whether the country you are studying in has laws regarding sexual identity or gender identity. Being familiar with these laws and reflecting on your own level of comfort with them is crucial. If you are unsure where to begin learning about the attitudes, customs and laws of your host country, reach out to a BOSP staff member over email or through an advising appointment.
In terms of housing requests, after you have been accepted or waitlisted for a BOSP program you will complete an Orientation Form, which has an entire section focused on Housing Considerations. BOSP encourages you to fill out this form completely and honestly so we can work with you to discuss various housing options and considerations that will work for you.
I want to continue observing my religion while I'm away as I do on campus but am unsure if my program schedule will allow it or if I will be able to find places of worship I identify with at my program site.
First, it may be helpful to reflect on how you are currently observing your religious beliefs on campus. For example: do you have a specific prayer schedule? Are there certain foods you do not eat for religious reasons? When do you observe religious holidays and how do you observe them? What type of environment do you practice in? These components of your religious practice may feel innate to you, but reflecting on them and being able to clearly articulate them, will help illuminate where you may face challenges or road blocks while you are away. In your reflection, we also recommend considering how flexible or inflexible your practice feels to you as this varies greatly from individual to individual.
BOSP staff at home and at our program centers can then work with you to address any questions or concerns you may have about maintaining your religious practice while away. We can provide additional information about what resources will be available on your program and in your study away location. We can also work with you to think creatively about how you can continue to observe your religion in a way which feels satisfying and meaningful for you. You may also find it helpful to discuss your plans or concerns with staff at the Office of Religious Life or staff/peers who are affiliated with a particular student group or community center with which you identify.
How will people abroad react when they learn that I go to Stanford and/or am from the United States? Will they make assumptions about my class identity and how can I constructively respond to these assumptions?
Traveling overseas as a Stanford student and/or a student from the United States can be a unique (and sometimes challenging) experience. The United States and Stanford each have a very strong global presence due to social constructs of wealth, power and privilege, which are in turn inextricably linked to various assumptions about Stanford students and US citizens. For example, people you meet abroad may assume that because you attend Stanford and/or because you are a US citizen, you come from a wealthy family and have benefited from a privileged upbringing (which of course is not true for all students). These assumptions are fueled by images and stories continuously shared and re-told through various forms of global media. If you encounter these stereotypes and assumptions abroad, try to pause and consider where these ideas may be coming from rather than becoming defensive or dismissive. Use the opportunity to engage in a dialogue about why these assumptions exist and provide some examples from your own experience that may provide a counternarrative. We also recommend connecting with one of BOSP’s Student Ambassadors to learn more about how they navigated these interactions within their program’s particular cultural context.