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Diversity & Study Abroad

You may find that a number of factors may influence your experience abroad, including your nationality; religious, racial or ethnic heritage; gender; sexual orientation; mobility; accessibility and disability; and personality. Attitudes toward women and minority groups vary greatly across cultures, as do experiences in gender identity and sexual orientation. In some cultures you may experience being in the minority (i.e., a foreigner) or in the majority for the first time. How the "majority culture" defines itself also differs around the world. No place is "monocultural" and learning about difference by living and studying outside the U.S. can bring new insights upon return.

Many students of color report that in the United States they self-identify as African American, Latin American, Asian American and so on, but abroad, they are simply American. Some students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds also report a range of experiences in treatment as a "foreigner." Some students report feeling exhilarated by the freedom from the U.S./American context of race relations, to those who experienced different degrees of "naive" curiosity. Some felt they met both familiar and new types of prejudice and had to learn new coping strategies.

All students are encouraged to ask questions, explore resources, and remember that all cultures have complexities. Finding opportunities to successfully live in another culture is extraordinary. The links in the right-hand column will provide you with some information and resources in exploring different perspectives on diversity issues abroad.