Resource Series 2: Resources for Students of Color Abroad

Whatever the specifics are for your case when preparing to study abroad, we want to be able to help you! The following list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope you find the resources useful.

  • Diversity Abroad has great resources for diverse students. Check out their tips for students of color abroad.
  • Transitions Abroad is a website that students submit their own stories and experiences to. The link will take you to an article specifically for African American students studying abroad, but the website may have helpful tips for other students of color, as well.
  • The PLATO Project says their list of resources is “useful in promoting study abroad participation among underrepresented students, addressing some of the issues and challenges ethnicity may play in their study abroad experience, and linking them to additional information, resources, and scholarships.”
    • They also work with this organization that supports all students that want to study abroad.
  • Diversity Issues in Study Abroad” by Brown University – This booklet is comprised of quotes from diverse students from Brown University after studying abroad. It may give students of all backgrounds some insight into what it is like being a diverse American student abroad.
  • Apply for the TU Institutional Diversity Study Abroad Scholarship.
  • This blog post written by one of our former Peer Advisors, Brianna James!

If you are a student that has studied abroad and has any advice for us to include, don’t hesitate to contact us at (410) 704-2451, or by email at studyabroad@towson.edu. We are always looking for guest bloggers to feature on our site.

Advertisements

Recommended Apps to Use Abroad

Phones have become increasingly important in today’s society, and not just in America. While you’re abroad, it could be very helpful to know which apps to use for various reasons. To help sort through them, we’ve compiled a useful list, divided into categories!

To connect with friends, both back home and in your new city:

  • WhatsApp
  • Viber
  • Facebook Messenger – Almost everyone has Facebook! As long as you have Wi-Fi wherever you are (or a data plan), you can keep in touch with people back home, AND connect with your new friends abroad.
  • Snapchat – Snapchat is also a great way to keep up with what your friends at home are doing. Just be careful not to use it too much–it may increase the chances of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

To help with planning your trip and keeping track of your itinerary:

  • HostelWorld
  • Airbnb
  • The app to whatever airline you’re using – I flew British Airways when I went to England, and having their app was so convenient! Instead of worrying about having a paper boarding pass to keep track of, I just needed my phone. You can also keep up with flight delays and cancellations this way.
  • TripIt – This app syncs with your email, so every ticket you purchase and event you sign up for saves to the app to create a personalized itinerary.

To get around once you’re in your host city:

  • AroundMe – This app generates a list of companies/events/buildings that are in the area.
  • Any public transportation apps near you – Some taxi companies have apps that allow you to request a taxi right on the app, and then notifies you when it arrives! Airports and bus/train stations may also have apps you can download.
  • Uber – Most major cities abroad have Uber, but check to make sure yours does before relying on this.

To keep up-to-date with safety and wellness information:

  • OSAC – This is the official app for the U.S. Department of State.
  • TravWell – Here you can keep track of any vaccinations you need, any risks around you, etc.
  • Can I Eat This? – The title is self-explanatory: this app lets you know if certain foods in your host country may make you sick.

To make traveling around outside of your host country easier:

  • Currency Converter
  • My TSA – You can see how long lines are, whether flights are delayed, and more with this helpful travel app!
  • Border Wait Time
  • Mobile Passport App – This one only works when you’re entering the U.S. again, but it’s still worth it to skip the lines!

Other helpful things to download:

  • Offline games to play when you’re waiting in places without wifi
  • WiFi Finder

Resource Series 1: Tips for Handling Mental Illness Abroad

Thoughts from Lyndsi Jones, Peer Advisor

Who out there struggles with some kind of mental health condition? Have you thought about studying abroad? Are you worried that studying abroad would be too stressful, or too hard to manage along with your illness?

What many students don’t realize is that over 20% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 are struggling with a mental illness of some kind, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. You are not alone, and there are resources out there for you, too—whether you’re in America, or your dream country.

Personally, I was very nervous about studying abroad for five months. I have a long history with depression and anxiety, and even though I spent most of my life learning how to deal with those things, it was daunting to think about being away from my comfort zone. I wouldn’t be able to call my mom in the middle of the night, schedule an appointment with my therapist, or drive home for the weekend if I was overwhelmed by work. Studying abroad meant depending on myself, and trusting that I knew enough about my own mental health and self-care.

There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself, in all stages of your study abroad experience.

  • Research which countries have the best mental health services. You may have to compromise on location if it means better resources for your specific concerns. A few places to start are below.
  • If you take medication, know how much you can bring with you before going, and plan for that. You don’t want to get abroad and realize you’re going to run out of your medication during your stay, with no plan to get a refill. Likewise, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to request your medication and realize you can’t take enough with you.
    • Side-note: Some medications that are legal here may be illegal in other countries. If that’s the case for you, talk to your doctor about what a suitable alternative may be.
  • Be honest with the Study Abroad Office on your medical self-evaluation. I know you may feel uncomfortable sharing the details of your mental illness, but it’s important for your study abroad advisor to know. The information you provide is kept confidential. Part of their job is to help prepare you to go abroad, but they can only help you with things they know about.
  • Don’t overload yourself at your school or program abroad. The amount of classes you can handle at Towson may not be the same amount you can handle abroad. While you’re abroad, you will be dealing with your mental health as well as experiencing culture shock, so leave room for yourself to adjust to that (you can always take on more classes/clubs/extracurriculars later, if you feel you can).
    • Side-note: If you’re abroad for a semester, you will need to maintain full-time status (12 U.S. credits).
  • Once at your school or program, explore the specific mental health resources they offer. Be aware of your options, in case you have an emergency. I can only speak from my experience here, but the school I attended had a text-line that was available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was like an on-campus job, in a way; students applied for the opportunity, trained, and had schedules to ensure that at least one person was available at every hour in case of a mental health emergency.
  • Confide in your friends! Chances are, someone in your circle at home knows your concerns about studying abroad with a mental illness. Plan a Skype date with them to talk about things if you need to. You may even make friends while you’re abroad that you feel you can confide in—I did, and one of them was feeling the same way I was.
    • Side-note: One of the main lessons I learned abroad is that there are people everywhere. I was so afraid of leaving my people. Breaking news: everywhere you go in the world, there will be people. They’re probably nice people. Will they be different than you? Maybe. But don’t close yourself off or miss out on an opportunity because you’re afraid you’ll be alone. You won’t be alone.
  • Leave some time for a little extra self-care when you come home. I know, I know—everyone warns you that coming home is the hardest part. What you might not be prepared for, though, is it being true. I hadn’t gone to therapy regularly in three years, but when I came home, I almost immediately needed to start going every week. Be mindful of the fact that you may need even more time to adjust back home than you did when you went abroad.

 

Studying abroad is such a valuable experience. No matter who you are, where you go, or how long you go for, you will come home a little different (hopefully, a little better). Don’t let fear of your mental illness keep you state-side.

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office at (410) 704-2451, or email studyabroad@towson.edu and peeradvisor@towson.edu. We are located in PY 408, open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

You should also go to Towson’s Counseling Center with concerns about your mental health abroad. They can be reached at (410) 704-2512, or counseling@towson.edu. They are located on the second floor of the Health & Counseling Center at Ward and West.