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Supporting diversity in study away

Augustana encourages all students to consider a study or intern abroad experience as part of Augustana’s mission to prepare students for a “rewarding life of leadership and service in a diverse and changing world.”

The college is committed to helping students find programs that meet their academic and career goals, and that also are a fulfilling personal growth experience. The staff is happy to meet with students to talk about any concerns or questions.

Following is information to address specific concerns that may impact a student’s decision to participate in a study away program, particularly for students who may feel that there are additional challenges or concerns for them.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students

While current policy of the U.S. government states that students within the DACA program may study abroad on approved university programs using a travel document known as Advance Parole, there are concerns that this permission may be altered or rescinded without significant advance notice, potentially creating a situation in which a DACA student may encounter significant risks to departing the United States.

Upon return to the U.S., the DACA parolee is considered an applicant for admission to the United States and still could be subject to removal proceedings based upon applicable grounds of inadmissibility. The fact that the Advance Parole document was issued does not guarantee that it can be safely used by all DACA students. Depending on the DACA student’s specific immigration history, departure from the U.S. and attempted use of an Advance Parole Document may not result in a successful return to the U.S. and could have serious negative consequences for the student's future immigration process.

For this reason, and in the interest in the security and well-being of students, at this time the college recommends that DACA students consider only those programs available through Augustana which are conducted within the United States, avoiding all foreign travel. 

If you are classified as a DACA participant, and you wish to join a study away program, the college recommends that you consult with an mmigration attorney prior to your application. Augustana College cannot guarantee re-entry back into the United States even when students are traveling with an Augustana study away program. 

International students

Augustana welcomes its international students to participate in any of the study away programs we offer. While we understand that coming to the United States may already feel like a big step towards a global perspective, we also believe that there is great value in joining a study away program, even for the seasoned traveler. However, as a “double abroad” student, there are some considerations you should take into account as you consider a program.

• Study abroad should always be planned in consultation with your academic advisor and with the International Student Life office to ensure that the program forms part of your four-year academic plan.

• Remember that U.S. Visa or I-20 alterations may be needed for a semester away program, as well as potentially an entry visa for the country of your program.

• You will will want to work with the IOP Office and the Office of International Student Life to ensure that your entry requirements for the destination of the study away program as well as your re-entry requirements and documents for the United States are in order. While Augustana cannot directly assist you with any visa or entry documents for foreign destinations, the college can advise you on best practices and possible sources of assistance available.

First-generation students

As a first-generation student, you are the first in your family to pursue a college degree and that also means that you may be the first in your family to ever study abroad.

Some recommendations from us to begin your study away journey:

• Be sure to keep your family well-informed about your decisions, about the program you have chosen and the information you receive during predeparture orientation. Well-informed parents tend to be more supportive and more encouraging than those who see only mystery and risk in your future.

• Feel free to stop by the CORE offices to talk to our peer advisors, and reach out to friends who have been abroad themselves, to hear their advice about living abroad.

• Attend the study away fair and any workshops designed for students applying to new programs.  If you are interested in a faculty-led J-term, be sure to attend the information sessions provided by the faculty leaders of the programs that interest you.

• Deadlines and predeparture requirements such as forms, signature documents or mandatory questionairres are an important part of the application and enrollment process. Do not let the deadlines slip by, or fail to complete requested documents. Always respond to emails from program staff or directors and be sure to keep copies of important documents in case you need to reference them later.

• Your parents may find the idea of you studying abroad to be scary or unrealistic. The best advice that we can give you is to thoroughly prepare the necessary information first. Present them with information on the campus resources that will support you, the specifics of how you can use financial aid and scholarships for study abroad, the benefits of studying abroad, and the details of the program you have chosen.

Racial and ethnic minority students

Ethnic and racial relations and attitudes vary by culture, and studying abroad can both be an exciting opportunity to think about your identity in a new way, or a challenging transition from life in the United States. This is true of all students, particularly when students find themselves in situations where they feel that they stand out even more than usual, or, quite the opposite, when, for the first time they find themselves to be part of an ethnic or racial majority for the first time.

Students should not feel pressured to mask or hide their identities. You may find that confronting and coping with your adjustment abroad can be a positive growth experience, even if challenging at times. You can prepare yourself for the situations you may encounter by researching the minority, majority, and plurality racial and ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations.  

Of course, if you experience difficulties, don’t be afraid to contact the program sponsors, speak to program faculty or Augustana representatives on campus or with you overseas, and if you begin to feel that you are in any way unsafe overseas, reach out to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They are available 24/7 at every embassy to provide emergency assistance to Americans. They won’t pass judgment on you and will protect your privacy.

Some good resources include:

Top Ten Reasons for African-American Students to Study Abroad

Diversity Abroad Scholarships

LGBTQIA students

Augustana encourages all students to consider study abroad. While all study abroad participants need to plan their experience in advance, as an LGBTQIA student you may wish to consider some additional issues. Some of our recommendations are:

• Research the LGBTQIA climate of the host country.  Use resources such as newspapers, LGBT-friendly travel guides and e-zines, or even LGBTQIA and allied people who have traveled to the locations you are considering. You want to understand the context, customs, laws and attitudes in your host country. Similar expressions or behaviors may have vastly different meanings in different places. In some places, open expressions of sexual orientation might be criticized.

• Remember that once outside the United States you are no longer protected by U.S. law. If same-sex acts are illegal in your host country and you are caught engaging in them, or presumed to have engaged in them, you could be arrested and imprisoned in that country.

• Reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of sexual identity and consider carefully how your identity as a LGBTQIA person may affect your relationships with host country nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall study abroad experience.

• Gender identity is a tricky issue when combined with international travel. There is an expectation that the gender identity you use will match that of your legal documents such as passports or visas. Divergence from the legal documents may lead to issues with authorities and with housing as many student residences, hostels and hotels use passports as identification and for housing designations.

• For programs where housing is sponsored by Augustana, we recommend that you notify the IOP Office or the faculty leader of your chosen program if you believe that issues of gender identity might impact housing options for you. We will do all we can to work with our providers to ensure that we can place you in a safe and appropriate housing option.

• Be alert and try to avoid potentially unsafe environments. The general openness of LGBT settings can sometimes be taken advantage of by criminals. Look out for yourself and your friends, especially late at night.

• Use discretion. As an American, you may already stand out. Outside gay neighborhoods or resorts, public displays of affection may draw even more attention.

Some resources of useful information:

The Fund for Education Abroad’s Rainbow Scholarship Program

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (country-specific information related to legal rights and social climate)

U.S. State Department information

National Center for Transgender Equality (resources on how to update identification and rights at airport security)