Studying Abroad is an exciting and important opportunity available to UA students. Over the years many disabled students have studied all over the world. DRC and Study Abroad work together with disabled students to explore options for studying abroad that are accessible and workable.
Please visit the Global Initiatives - Study Abroad website for more information.
Hear from disabled students who have studied abroad:
Amanda Parkman, Australia
"[Studying aborad] is one of the best things I have ever done. I gained lifelong friendships, amazing memories, and it reinforced my independence. I had always felt that I was pretty independent but when you travel abroad alone you really get to see how true that is as you navigate a new country on your own and learn new things. I learned a lot about myself during my study abroad experience. I gained a clearer understanding of what is important to me, what I enjoy, and who I want to be as a person.
Amanda's advice to students considering going abroad:
1. Do research and plan. You need to look into the programs available and you need to find out what is the accessibility available at the host institution. Be really clear with the accommodations you need. For example, I wanted to make sure the bathroom at the residence hall was going to meet my accessibility needs so I had the institution send me pictures of the room I was going to be staying in. You need to be prepared to be open and honest about the accommodations/assistance you will need at many points of the planning stage and actual trip. Not all places are required to provide the same kind of accessibility as the U.S. which is why you need to ask ahead of time. And since you need to do research and plan you need to give yourself enough time. I recommend to begin looking into programs at least a year prior.
2. Research airlines and find the one you’ll be most comfortable flying with. If you have never flown before, ask around and get advice from others with disabilities how they manage when flying. Things from getting around the airport to once on the plane and using the restroom. These are things you need to be aware of so you can mentally prepare yourself for it.
3. Think about possible "what-if" scenarios and how you will handle them if they happen. For example, I use a power wheelchair to get around. I thought ahead of time "What if it breaks down when I am abroad? What will I do?" which prompted me to look into wheelchair repair shops in the city I was studying abroad and contacting them ahead of time if they would be able to help if needed. I am glad I did because my batteries ended up blowing a fuse the first day in Australia. But because I had planned ahead and thought "what-if" I was prepared.
4. Go into the study abroad experience with an open mind.
Erik Lee, Switzerland and Jordan
“[Studying Abroad] will change you!” I met a lot of different people, and I’ve become more accepting of how the world really is. Not every country is a diverse as the US is so you get a sense of that. I was determined to make it work and I found “workarounds” for access.”
Eriks's advice to students considering going abroad:
“Do it”…if you can! “If you have doubts that are not serious you should explore it. I didn’t know anything about Study Abroad and but I knew it was something I really wanted to do and I am really glad I did it.”
Contact Study Abroad to discuss your options.
You may also want to visit Mobility International USA for information on traveling abroad.