Tips for LGBTQIA+ Students Abroad

The first blog post in our Tips for Underrepresented Students Series focuses on resources for the LGBTQIA+ community. Although the last couple years have been revolutionary with their increase in inclusive dialogue and equal representation, there’s always room for more.

Studying abroad is a very exciting and potentially anxiety-provoking adventure in general, but it can be possibly more nerve-wracking for LGBTQIA+ students because there are different cultural expectations and norms abroad. Below we have several different resources to help ease some of the anxiety you may be feeling so that we can make study abroad a reality for you!

For first hand advice, check out this blog from Go Overseas, and read this more recent blog post from a San Diego State student who was studying in Ecuador during the Orlando attack.

For programs that specifically focus on LGBT Studies and Issues, check out GoAbroad.

For information about the social climate and safety in specific countries, check out Diversity Abroad:

  • Click on the ‘Destinations’ tab at the top which will take you to location-specific links to more information
  • Once you locate the country you’re interested in, scroll down to the Diversity Guide, which will tell you how this country specifically deals with the LGBTQIA+ community

UMD’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow program offers webinars specifically regarding the LGBTQIA+ community in a global/international context. For their schedule of upcoming webinars and links to recordings of past webinars, click here!

Did you know that there are scholarship opportunities specifically for LGBTQIA+ students? GoAbroad did the work for you and listed 12 scholarships that they found to be the most relevant and helpful.

*These are by no means all of the scholarship options. Speak to your Study Abroad Advisor to brainstorm other sources of funding.

Additional information about health and safety abroad for the LGBTQIA+ community and resources can be found through CIS Abroad, who developed a specific initiative, as a part of Generation Study Abroad, to increase access and programming for LGBTQIA+ students.

We understand that this isn’t an exhaustive list and acknowledge that there are many more available resources to access, but we hope that this blog serves as a resource for that anyone can study abroad and have a wonderful experience regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

If you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to contact the office at



Vote While Abroad!

Plan ahead now to vote in the general election in November! It’s easy to do – just go to – the official U.S. Government website for overseas absentee voting information – to start the process.

TIP: Each U.S. state and territory has its own system for requesting an absentee ballot and deadlines vary. Make sure you check the guidelines for your state.

Every vote counts, so register soon!

2017 Faculty-Led Program Announcement!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

We have finalized the line-up for the 2017 faculty-led programs!

If you are unfamiliar with our faculty-led programs, they are essentially study abroad opportunities during the winter, spring, and summer breaks led by Towson faculty, ranging from 2-6 weeks.

Without further ado…




Not sure if a program is right for you? Contact an advisor at!

2016 Gilman Scholarship Recipients

We’re proud to announce that two students from Towson University have been awarded the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for the summer term!

Hameed.UsjidTowson junior, Usjid Hameed, of Cockeysville, Maryland, is a Political Science major with a minor in History. He will be studying abroad with the CIEE Summer Arabic Language program in Amman, Jordan. After graduating, Hameed plans on pursuing a Master’s degree in International Relations in order to eventually join the Foreign Service and work as a diplomat in the Middle East. He states, “as a Muslim myself, I feel a strong responsibility to work to bring some sort of stability to the violent parts of the Muslim world. I realize that this goal may come off as idealistic, however I firmly believe that peace will be restored not through the barrel of a gun, but through the clasp of a handshake.” Studying abroad in Jordan is one of the first steps to bring this admirable goal to fruition.

SmithJaime_SakuraMatsuriTowson junior, Jaime Smith, of Clinton, Maryland, is a Digital Art and Design major with a track in Game Design. She will be studying abroad with the TU in Japan program in Tokyo this summer. Her interest in Japanese culture has been developing from an early age, so having the opportunity to study in Japan will serve as a culminating experience and allow her to immerse herself in the Japanese way of life. Smith also states that she chose Japan to prove that art majors need not be confined to Europe for studies abroad. She states, “I am looking forward to immersing myself in the culture: interacting with people, eating new cuisine, exploring, and practicing my language skills daily.” After graduating, she hopes to become a video game character artist with Nintendo in Japan.

Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who go abroad and the countries and regions where they study. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

If you would like more information about the Gilman scholarship, check out their website linked below:

Upcoming application deadlines will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!

Congratulations to Usjid and Jaime! Best of luck and bon voyage.


Event Highlight: CIEE Passport Caravan

Have you heard that CIEE has pledged to fund 10,000 passports through the year 2020 as part of the IIE Generation Study Abroad initiative? We don’t know about you, but we think that’s a pretty generous commitment! Passport fees are typically about $110 for applicants over the age of 16, which is an expense that keeps some people from pursuing study abroad.

Luckily for us, the CIEE Passport Caravan came to town this February and 75 Towson students received free passports to help make study abroad more of a reality!

We spoke to some of the students that attended the event, and here’s what they had to say:

Canisha Drew, a senior Early Childhood Special Education major, said, “This free passport may help me get the international experience I need before joining the Peace Corps.”

Chris Powell, a senior Anthropology and International Relations major, said, “I love working abroad and without my passport, I wouldn’t be able to do that. Before I was traveling on a military ID, but this passport will allow me to pursue my passions in India.”

Nichole Whilson, a student in the Master’s program for Library and Information Science, said, “This passport means so much to me as an older student because a lot of these experiences and opportunities are typically reserved for younger students.”

Thank you to CIEE for bringing this opportunity to Towson students! We hope that this was a step in the right direction towards fulfilling our Generation Study Abroad pledge of increasing students studying abroad by 40% by the year 2020.


Recipes from Abroad Series

Bring the world to your kitchen!

Do you ever find yourself wandering down the international food aisle in the grocery store wishing you knew how to incorporate these ingredients into your cooking? Have you been abroad and miss the excitement of trying new dishes? Do you just love to cook and try new foods? If you answered yes to any of the above, this blog series is right up your alley!

For the remainder of this semester, we will be featuring a new international recipe on our blog every week. Follow along with us as we bring the international food aisle home!

5/2/2016: Recipe #3 is from Kristen, one of our awesome Peer Advisors!


Kristen’s Irish Soda Bread


  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor.

Fun Fact: The cross on the soda bread has several explanations. Legend has it that folks did it to “let the devil out” while it’s baking for good luck, and others say that it made it easy to divide into 4 pieces. It was also a symbol for a cross during Christian holidays.

Interested in study abroad opportunities in Ireland? Check out the link below for more info!

4/18/2016: Recipe #2 comes from one of our Study Abroad Advisors, Jen!


Jen’s Spanish Tortilla


  • 6 large potatoes, diced
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 small onions, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • Lots of oil!! probably about 1.5-2 cups (enough to fry the potatoes)


Peel potatoes and dice into small square pieces. Fry the potatoes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Chop onion(s) finely and add to the potatoes, spreading them throughout. Once the potatoes are golden brown and tender, drain potatoes and onion in a strainer to get rid of excess oil. Add all 6 eggs to the potato mixture, and stir all ingredients so they are thoughtfully mixed. Pour mixture back into round pan, make sure the edge of the tortilla is rounded. Once the egg has cooked through on the bottom, place a large plate over your pan and carefully flip the tortilla (This is the tricky part- it takes a bit of practice. Having a second person sometimes helps!). The egg should look cooked through on the top now, but you’ll still have to let it cook through to the bottom. Carefully slip the tortilla back from the plate into the pan and use the spatula again to make sure the edges are clean and round. Add salt to taste. Cut like a pie or in small squares and serve with a baguette. Enjoy your authentic Spanish tortilla with cafe con leche and you’ll feel like you’re taking a short siesta in a cafe in Spain!

Fun Fact: Tapas, or appetizers, are a staple in Spanish cuisine, and the Spanish Tortilla is considered one of the most classic tapas. 

Interested in study abroad opportunities in Spain? Check out the link below for more info!

4/11/2016: We’d like to start off with a recipe from the Director of the Study Abroad Office:


Liz’s Quick and Easy Coronation Chicken 


  • Shredded chicken (4-6 cups or one medium sized rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • Mild curry powder (approx. 2 – 4 teaspoons)
  • Pineapple chunks or tidbits in natural juice (20oz can)
  • Cashew nut halves and pieces (8oz can)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


Strain the pineapple chunks saving 2 tablespoons of the juice. Mix the mayonnaise, curry powder, and pineapple juice together until smooth. Add to the shredded chicken, pineapple chunks, and cashew pieces.  Salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with chips, crackers, lettuce wraps, or in sandwiches.

Fun Fact: The original recipe was created in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Interested in study abroad opportunities in the UK? Check out the link below for more info!

Stay tuned for yummy recipes from India, Spain, Chile, and more…


Towerlight Column Spring 2016: Christina in Cape Town

Follow along with Christina as she explores her new home for the semester in Cape Town, South Africa! She’ll be writing for the Towerlight to keep us updated on her adventure.

Mattera 6

We checked in with her recently and had her answer some of our burning questions!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Christina Mattera, and I am a Junior, Mass Communications (PR and Advertising) major, and marketing minor, graduating in 2017. I am originally from Ellicott City, MD, but I am currently studying at University of Cape Town, in South Africa for the spring 2016 semester.

Q: When deciding where to study abroad, what led you to choose your destination?

I’ve always wanted to do a missions trip in Africa and I knew that if I studied abroad in Cape Town I would have a real opportunity to make a difference! The University of Cape Town has volunteer programs where they take us to townships to teach local kids, which is such an amazing experience! I also wanted to be thrust into a culture that’s totally different from America.

Q: What research did you do about your destination? What are some tips you have for others doing the same?

The program I’m here with is called International Studies Abroad (ISA) and between their website and Towson’s resources, I was able to do thorough research on exactly what to expect. Towson’s Study Abroad Office is amazing and they helped me every step of the way! Besides that, I used Google and Pinterest to find all of the touristy information!

Q: What challenges did you anticipate in your new destination?

I anticipated that my biggest challenge would be finding my way around and adjusting to a new culture. Most people can speak English here which is really great, but their accents are so thick that sometimes it’s still hard to understand!

Q:What were you most looking forward to?

When I decided to come to South Africa, I was most looking forward to the volunteer opportunities and warm weather! I love kids and I couldn’t wait to start volunteering and forming relationships with the local children. The beaches here are so beautiful, and my favorite thing to do is to spend some time doing homework on the beach after class!

Mattera 1




What would your life be like if you had never studied abroad?

Now, think of how different a friend’s life would be if you could just convince them to go abroad, too.

We share your passion for international education. That’s why the Institute of International Education (IIE) has joined forces with Go Overseas and other partner organizations to mobilize at least 10,000 study abroad alumni to nominate students to #GoStudyAbroad.

Some of the biggest barriers to study abroad are cost, curriculum, and culture; we are taking aim at these barriers through #GoStudyAbroad by offering scholarships and sharing resources to help more people go overseas.

The Institute of International Education needs your help.

They need people like you – mentors, campus leaders, faculty and friends – to help spread the word by nominating your friends, family, and classmates to study abroad. Nominees can win a $10,000 scholarship for study abroad!

As a way to say thanks, we will be awarding five $500 travel prizes and one $1,500 grand prize for a round trip flight back to your study abroad country to the person who nominates the most friends to study abroad.

Start nominating friends to study abroad here: The deadline to nominate your friends is March 31, 2016!


Full ride study abroad scholarships!


This exciting scholarship announcement from our partners at The Education Abroad Network (TEAN). A Towson student recently received this awesome scholarship — will you be next?

“To celebrate 20 years of students studying and interning abroad with us, we’ve teamed up with our partners to bring you the “20 for 20″ scholarship program. We have 20 scholarships for both semester and summer study abroad programs across the Asia Pacific to encourage even more students to study abroad. One lucky applicant will also receive a full ride from TEAN to a program of their choice that includes tuition, program fees, housing and airfare to study abroad in 2016. Since 1995, TEAN has been deeply committed to giving students an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience study abroad in a new and exciting culture.”

For a full list of applicable programs in Australia and New Zealand, click here: