When you decide to pack up and relocate for a semester abroad at a world-class university, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. You’ll need to get organized and draw up a checklist, before actually selecting your courses and finding the ideal housing for your stay.
But if you are a member of the LGBTQ community, there are a few more things to keep in mind when moving abroad. If you come from an area that still hasn’t caught up with the times when it comes to acceptance, it’ll definitely be reassuring to check out some of the top LGBTQ-friendly countries before you make your final choice. Or if you’re specifying cities over countries, then a good starting point is knowing that Berlin, London, Barcelona and Amsterdam have the best Pride parades!
Another factor to consider is student organizations. Of course, the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) almost always comes to mind, but what about associations that are geared toward the particular hurdles that LGBTQ members may face? Such groups will plan events, help with any advice on how to maneuver certain situations and provide a place for like-minded people to study, work and even just get to know one another. They can even point you in the direction of the top LGBTQ musical festivals!
Regardless, joining one or more student associations is always recommended. Not only will it help keep your social calendar full, but it can also be a way to make valuable connections that may come in handy when you start your career.
Excited to learn more? Let’s explore 10 of the best LGBTQ-friendly student organizations!
This association was founded in Amsterdam in 2010, and has grown to over 300 members since its humble beginnings. On Wednesday nights, they have drinks at one of several LGBTQ bars, such as the Amstel Fifty Four. Additionally, they have 17 different committees who organize trips to other cities, parties of all themes as well as sports activities. They even have their own boat during Amsterdam Pride at the Canal Parade.
There are two different time periods during which you can register to join the association. They are from 1st August to 1st October and 1st February to 1st March.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organization isn’t just based at one university. In fact, it has a network comprised of members from over 40 countries. This association focuses primarily on activism, along with training students in the LGBTQ community to learn new strategies and gain innovative perspectives.
Throughout the year, they host events such as the Activist Academy, Study Sessions, Online Capacity Building, and Workshops and Training. They also host an Annual Member’s Conference.
Based in Copenhagen, this student organization is geared toward LGBTQ people who are interested in meeting other like-minded individuals and offering support in and around the city. Specifically, they hold two gatherings each month at a cafe at the Student House of Copenhagen. There is a specific topic of education or activism to start off the meeting, which then turns into a party-like atmosphere.
There are no specific dates for joining or registering, but it’s important to start off at the beginning of the semester. This provides the student with more opportunities as he or she is first getting adjusted.
Like IGLYO (an organisation they work hand-in-hand with), ANSO is an association that isn’t restricted to one area or university. It has a primary charter in Finland, as well as organizations in the countries of Norway, Iceland, Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, Poland and Lithuania. The basic goal of ANSO is to fight against discrimination based on an individual’s particular sexual orientation. It also sends out regular newsletters, arranges events and sends representatives to IGLYO’s annual meetings and conventions.
While not an actual association and located within Canada, the University of Western Ontario definitely deserves a special mention. In 1997, the university founded the Pride Library to offer a resource center for several of the LGBTQ student associations on campus, as well as the rest of the city’s gay community. The Pride Library contains over 6,000 items based on LGBTQ culture, including books, videos, magazines, posters, paintings and more. The library is also used as a meeting place for organization events.
Additionally, the university also boasts the UWO Student Health Services, which includes medical care, therapy and counseling, along with resources for birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing.
This Stockholm-based student association is a supportive group for activism, getting to know other like-minded individuals and preparing for the future. Students may join before even leaving home, which makes it easier to begin connecting with new people in online groups before classes at the university start.
The unique aspect of this association is that they actually offer training on how to best deal with discrimination and other hurdles that must be overcome for the gay community.
Glasgow is yet another city that offers a thriving LGBTQ scene, and the epicenter for the action is at the local university. This association welcomes anyone who identifies as LGBTQ and has a large percentage of international members.
They offer a full calendar of events throughout the school semesters, but they do have an offering that could prove to be very beneficial to incoming international students. It’s called the “family program.” Those interested are encouraged to fill out a survey, after which they will be “paired” with other people with like-minded interests.
This LGBTQ student association is housed in Milan, and it is a very important part of the city’s gay culture. They set up meetings, debates, parties, parades and all sorts of other events to raise awareness and encourage incoming students to get to know one another, as well as members of the local community.
PoliEdro is a part of the Rainbow Connection, and they even put together an LGBTQ history course to be taught at Politecnico di Milano. Additionally, they play an important part in the Milan Pride festivities and provide additional support in a variety of ways.
Known for its world-class courses and impressive international opportunities, this society is set up and run by students, offering support, resources and events to support the LGBTQ community at the university and beyond. The most popular is the weekly happy hour, offering everyone a chance to make new friends and discuss any social or educational topics.
It’s also a great idea to sign up in advance for their mailing list so that you can get an idea of what to expect before you even set foot in one of its colleges.
This network and association offer support for the Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Erasmus Medical Centre. They organize educational resources, as well as social gatherings to encourage commitment to the cause of encouraging a respected LGBTQ culture within the university and the city of Rotterdam itself.
Erasmus Pride also enjoys building connections with other city-wide organizations that share similar causes. Some of these networks include Rainbow City and The Hangout010.
There are, obviously, so many factors to take into consideration when choosing a city for your semester or two abroad. These are the questions we think should be at the forefront of your mind:
As a member of the LGBTQ community, student organizations that know exactly how to assist with your adjustment to university life abroad, as well as navigate some of the obstacles that you may face, can make all of the difference. So, before you make any final decisions, ensure that you’ll have all of the support that you’ll need at your new university and in your new city. Adventure awaits!