Diversity & Identity Abroad

BOSP’s Commitment to Diversity and Identity Abroad

The Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) strives to make overseas study a reality for every Stanford undergraduate. We believe studying overseas, whether for a full quarter at one of BOSP’s overseas centers or for a shorter period of time on one of our faculty-led programs, gives you the opportunity to gain substantive understanding of other perspectives in the world and will lead to a deeper awareness of yourself, your educational goals, and society.

We acknowledge that for various reasons, studying overseas with BOSP may not appear to be feasible for all students. We are committed to removing as many barriers impeding study abroad as possible and have created this guide to answer some common questions.

Below you will find a series of questions that have been raised by students in the past. We hope this content may serve as the beginning of a dialogue between you and BOSP so we can provide you with more program-specific guidance or connect you with additional resources related to your individual questions or concerns.

The content below is not meant to be representative of all student questions and concerns but is rather meant to start a dialogue. We encourage you to contact BOSP so we can discuss your specific situation.

Make an appointment with BOSP staff to discuss your study abroad options. If you are interested in a specific program, you can make an appointment with the staff member who advises for the particular program. If you are not sure which program you are interested in, visit BOSP’s Study Abroad Advising page for more information about how to make an appointment with a staff member or come by the office for Drop-in Advising.

Chat with one of the Student Ambassadors who studied abroad with BOSP. Our Student Ambassadors are great resources who can provide an invaluable student perspective on what their experience was like abroad. Our Student Ambassadors hold weekly office hours in BOSP.

Stanford is committed to providing all undergraduates the opportunity to study abroad 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 Overseas Seminar or Faculty-Initiated Program (FIP) pay a highly subsidized program fee. Stanford provides students on all seminars/FIPs 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.

First and foremost, it is important to critically reflect on your own reasons for studying abroad 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.

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.

Time constraints and fitting study abroad 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 abroad, you can have an enriching experience and return ready to jump right back into Stanford athletics.

BOSP encourages you to work with your coach, Athletic Academic Resource Center (AARC) advisor and BOSP staff to determine the ideal quarter(s) to go abroad 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 Overseas Seminars/Faculty-Initiated Programs webpage.

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.

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.

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 abroad. 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 abroad can then work with you to address any questions or concerns you may have about maintaining your religious practice abroad. We can provide additional information about what resources will be available on your study abroad program and in your study abroad location. We can also work with you to think creatively about how you can continue to observe your religion abroad 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.

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.

These are just some of the questions you may be thinking about as you consider studying abroad or prepare to go abroad. So, let’s start a conversation to talk through your questions and concerns and work collectively to address them. Please visit BOSP’s Study Abroad Advising page for more information about how to connect with BOSP.

We have also included some resources below, which may be helpful as you consider your study abroad options. Our hope is that this will be an ever-growing list that will continue to evolve as additional resources become available both on and off campus. If you find a particularly useful resource while you are doing your own research, please let us know about it by emailing bospapply@lists.stanford.edu.

Diversity Abroad – A leading international organization that connects students interested in issues related to diversity with international study, internships, teaching, volunteering, degree, and job opportunities. Diversity Abroad’s mission is, “To ensure that students from diverse economic, educational, ethnic and social backgrounds are aware, have equal access and take advantage of the benefits and opportunities afforded through global education exchanges.”

  • Diversity Guide to Study Abroad – learn more about how your identity may impact your experience abroad.
  • Destination Guides – learn more about your specific study abroad destination (or destinations if you have not decided where to study yet!).
  • Community Forums – ask and answer questions related to program-specific resources, scholarships and funding, identities abroad or country-specific resources.

Mobility International USA (MIUSA) – Advancing disability rights and leadership globally by empowering people with disabilities to travel abroad.

NAFSA Rainbow Special Interest Group (SIG) – As international education professionals, this group’s goal is to provide resources for and counsel study abroad students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+).

The Overseas Resource Center at Bechtel - Works with undergraduates and graduate students, post-docs as well as recent alumni pursuing scholarships for study and research abroad.