First-Generation and Non-Traditional Students Abroad

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First-generation students are the first in their family to attend a college or university. Non-traditional students are older than the average undergraduate and have subsequently accumulated more life experiences before arriving on campus than the average undergraduate. Each group faces a distinct set of challenges when it comes to studying abroad, but neither group should view those challenges as a reason not to study abroad.

Discussing Non-Traditional and First Generation Issues with a Study Abroad Advisor

Students who are first-generation or non-traditional are encouraged to discuss questions or concerns with their study abroad advisor during the program selection process. Please call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment with a study abroad advisor.

To help facilitate the discussion with your study abroad advisor, here are a few examples of questions posed by previous first-generation students:

  • Since no one in my family has ever studied abroad, who can help me check to see that I am on the right track as I plan? Is it ok if I schedule an extra appointment with my study abroad advisor if I'm not sure what to do?
  • How can I explain to my family that a study abroad experience can contribute to achievement of my academic and career goals?
  • Are there additional funding sources I can look into to help finance study abroad?

Here are a few examples of questions posed by previous non-traditional students:

  • Is it possible to take a minor child or a partner along with me when I study abroad?
  • Can I request not to have a roommate, or to be placed with a host family that shares my interests and age?
  • If I am not able to be away for very long due to family obligations, how do I get the most out of a short-term experience abroad?

These are examples of some questions you may wish to discuss with a study abroad advisor or with potential program providers.

In addition to the assistance that a study abroad advisor can provide, included below are several "Student Reflections" and "Staff Perspectives" from members of the University of Iowa community who have agreed to share their experiences in hopes that you might benefit from what they learned abroad.

Student Reflections

Following the reflection and perspective pieces is a supplementary list of links and resources that non-traditional and first-generation students may find useful.

Diversity Ambassador Jose Diaz at Stonehenge    
                    April Lam in India  A study abroad student standing in front of a city and a mountain  Kelsey Licul studying abroad in Spain    Vannessa Ginther  Shan Shan Huang  Jade in front of the Great Wall of China      

External Links

IES Abroad

This is a program provider that offers funding opportunities specifically for diverse groups studying abroad. The site lists resources by country and provides some helpful guides for parents and students.

Transitions Abroad Student Testimony
First-hand account of a woman's study abroad experience in France.

Transitions Abroad Adult Educational Travel
Programs, articles and links to resources for adults who want to engage in educational travel.

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