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Racially or Ethnically Diverse Students

Studying abroad can offer you the opportunity to think about your identity in a new way. Racial and ethnic relations vary by culture, meaning that while you’re abroad you may be part of an ethnic majority for the first time in your life. Also, you could be presented with an amazing opportunity to connect with and learn about your ancestral history and culture first-hand.

On the other hand, students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds may have a challenging transition from life in your community to life as a student in a different culture. People may categorize and interpret your race, ethnicity and other identity attributes quite differently than what you are used to. There is the possibility that you may encounter microaggressions or overt discrimination. You also may not be able to find culturally-specific products you are used to, like beauty or haircare. 

But, do not feel pressured to mask your identity. You may find that confronting and coping with your adjustment abroad can be a positive growth experience, even if challenging at times. Also be sure to constantly stay in touch with your support systems: family, friends, and even your International Coordinator!

You can prepare yourself for the situations you may encounter by researching the minority and majority racial/ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Find Students of Color who have recently studied abroad and ask them about their experiences.
  • Look at international news sources to get a sense of current political and societal issues in your host country.
  • If you experience difficulties, don’t be afraid to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They are available 24/7 at every embassy to provide emergency assistance to Americans.  

Questions you may want to consider, research and ask about

  • What are the cultural norms of my host country?
  • How will I be perceived in my host community?
  • Will there be other students of color in my program?
  • Will I experience discrimination in the country I study in? Who can I contact if I do?

Resources for more information