Life Abroad Panels: Identity Issues (with WGC)

In April of 2023, The Champlain Abroad office hosted the Life Abroad Panels with the aim of providing valuable insights and support to students preparing for or interested in studying abroad. These panels cover several different topics such as Wellness, Identity (with WGC), Food Issues, Academic Issues, Social Interaction, Finances, and Homesickness. These panels will serve as a way to share experiences, tips, and guidance from both staff members and former students who studied and lived in different countries. We recognize that these are not the only concerns students may have when it comes to studying abroad, therefore we urge students to fill out the Life Abroad Questionnaire that is provided to them on TerraDotta after they are accepted into our programs. Here, students will be able to list their concerns and they are encouraged to reach out to our office to discuss them further. Our study abroad coordinators are always willing to meet with students to answer questions and address concerns. The office also hosts various events and activities that can help students ease the transition of going abroad. To stay updated on the events and/or to book an appointment with our coordinators, check out our Events page. Ultimately, the life abroad panels served as a useful tool to empower and prepare students for their international experiences and ensure a successful and enriching time abroad. Here is the recording of the panel discussing how to deal with identity issues while being abroad (closed-captioning available).

Below you can find a brief outline of the panel which was held on Zoom.

I. Introductions

Elin Melchior introduces herself and the topic of the panel. Other panelists introduce themselves as well.

  • Elin Melchior (she/her), Study Abroad Coordinator. Studied abroad at the University of Warwick, England.
  • Martha Moreno Linares (she/her), Study Abroad Coordinator. Originally from Venezuela, studied abroad in Canada and the US.
  • Alex Martin (they/them), Program Coordinator of the Women’s and Gender Center.
  • Ally Clisby (they/them), 3rd-year Applied Math major. Studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland.
  • Mollie Ingleston (she/they), 4th-year Game Production Management major. Interned abroad in Seoul, South Korea.

II. Discussion on Identity Issues

  • Martha introduces the questions to discuss:
    • What were the concerns before going abroad relating to identity issues?
    • How did you navigate identity issues while studying abroad?
    • Were there any specific moments or experiences related to identity issues that stood out while studying abroad?
    • How did studying abroad impact your understanding of your own identity?
    • How can Champlain College support students who are dealing with identity issues while studying abroad?
  • Ally shares their initial worries about going to a new culture.
  • Other panelists share their thoughts on identity issues while studying abroad.
  • The panelists discuss specific experiences related to identity issues during their study abroad.
  • The panelists talk about how studying abroad helped them to better understand their own identity.
  • The panelists discuss ways Champlain College can provide support for students dealing with identity issues during their study abroad.

III. Interacting with the Queer Community in Dublin and Feeling Safe

  • Martha asks Ally about their experience interacting with the queer community in Dublin and whether they feel safe in the city
  • Ally admits that they haven’t interacted much with the queer community in Dublin but recommends a queer-owned pub near the student living center.
  • Ally talks about feeling safe in Dublin overall but mentions that being an easily identifiable American makes them a target.
  • Martha discusses safety concerns regarding participation in pride events in foreign countries, notes the legal status of homosexuality in some countries, and recommends that students should not participate in pride events in countries where homosexuality is illegal or rejected.
  • The group discusses their views on safety at pride events, including Ally feeling safe attending a pride event in Ireland and Alex welcoming international students to attend a pride event in their city.

IV. Experience in South Korea As A Member of the LGBTQ+ Community

  • Transcript snippet from an interview discussing worries before going to South Korea and seeking advice from coordinators.
  • Discussion on handling conversations about one’s identity in a professional setting and not experiencing microaggressions or discomfort.
  • No discussion on relationships was heard in the real world and no negative experiences were encountered.
  • Importance of reading the room and understanding the environment, as individual experiences may vary, but it’s possible to have a positive experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in South Korea.

V. Concrete Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers to the Same Destination

  • Ally recommends embracing oneself and not trying to hide oneself to fit into Irish culture.
  • Mollie suggests being cautious about who one talks to regarding one’s identity and feeling out the situation before revealing it.
  • Mollie also recommends not leading with one’s identity but confiding in people with whom one is comfortable.

Highlights:

  • The panel discussed identity issues while studying abroad and shared their experiences in navigating them.
  • The panelists talked about how studying abroad impacted their understanding of their own identity.
  • The panelists discussed ways Champlain College can provide support for students dealing with identity issues while studying abroad.
  • Ally shared their experiences interacting with the queer community in Dublin and discussed feeling safe in the city.
  • Martha and Ally discussed safety concerns regarding participation in pride events in foreign countries, and the panelists shared their views on attending these events.
  • Mollie shared her experiences as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in South Korea and offered tips for LGBTQ+ travelers going to the same destination.

Links to Other Life Abroad Panels

More General Advice
Montreal Culture Differences
Life Abroad Panels: Finance Issues
Life Abroad Panels: Homesickness