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Student Identities Abroad

First Generation College Students

As the first person in their immediate family to go to college, first generation college students may feel like studying abroad adds another layer of complexity to their educational experience. Some students may feel that that need to take advantage of every opportunity college offers, including study abroad. Others may find it different to explain the value of study abroad to their families or feel pressure from their family to stay close to home. For first generation college students who come to Dickinson with high financial need, this can add additional layers and pressures. (see students with high financial need section for additional resources)

We are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point.  As always, your Education Abroad advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources.

Questions to ask yourself and/or your Education Abroad Advisor:


  • Why am I pursuing study abroad? What do I hope to accomplish from this experience?
  • If no one in my family has ever studied abroad, who can I turn to for support and to help me prepare? Who can help me answer both my questions as well as my family’s questions as I plan my experience? 

Family & Friends

  • How will I explain the process to family and friends?
  • How can I explain to my family that a study abroad experience can contribute to the achievement of my academic and career goals? 
  • How will I involve my family in my decision to study abroad, if at all? Will they be financing any portion of my study abroad experience?
  • How will I keep in touch with family and friends while I am abroad? 
  • What resources are available for my family and friends?


  • Where do I find information about finances for study abroad?
  • Are there any other expenses beyond the cost of the study abroad program that I need to consider (i.e., passport, plane tickets, and meals, etc.)?
  • What additional funding sources are available to first-generation college students like myself?


Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As a first-generation college student, it can be easy to feel like you’re alone in your experiences, but you are not alone and there are resources available to help you navigate this experience.

It is important to have support networks in place while you are abroad. Seek out friends who can share this experience with you, and make local friends who can help you navigate your host community.  Your on-site program staff are also always there to help you out. 

Consider finding friends who share your preferences for spending your time and money. If you’re not going to go out every weekend or budget a lot of money for independent travel or entertainment, be up front about this. Talk with on-site program staff to learn about the best free or low-cost museums, tours, festivals, and other events. 

Set clear expectations with your friends and family back home before you go abroad. Let them know how you will communicate with them and how often you'll check in with them. Find what works best for you. 

On-Campus Resources

General Resources


Special thanks to the University of Maryland Education Abroad for generously allowing us to adapt their Identities and Affiliation page for our students.