Race & Ethnicity
It is important to recognize how cultural differences impact perceptions of race and ethnicity.
Many students of color report that in the U.S. they self-identify with their race, but abroad they are recognized as simply American. Some students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds also report a real range of experiences in treatment as a "foreigner." Some students report feeling exhilarated by the freedom from the American context of race relations, while others report experiencing new types of prejudice and having to learn new coping strategies.
Making friends with those who have grown up in a different culture is one of the most rewarding aspects of studying abroad. You can alleviate potential misunderstandings by learning in advance as much as you can about the culture where you'll be living. Please feel at ease to discuss your questions and concerns about this or any other issue with any of the Office for International Study staff members.
How to Prepare
You can alleviate potential misunderstandings by learning in advance as much as you can about the culture where you'll be living.
CISCO (Chinese Inter-Regional Student Cultural Organization)
EKTA (for students of South Asian heritage)
Nosotras (for Latina students)
SACSA (Smith African and Caribbean Students Association)
Diversity Abroad: dedicated to helping students of color study abroad, including advice, scholarship information, student testimonials and more.
AllAbroad.us: advocating for increased participation and diversity in study abroad. There are sections for students, parents and faculty/staff. See the "Mentor" section with video clips of mentors answering questions about study abroad.
PLATO: Project for Learning Abroad, Training & Outreach: a project addressing some of the issues and challenges ethnicity may play in the study abroad experience for underrepresented students. The site links to additional information, resources and scholarships and includes the top-10 reasons for students from African American, Hispanic American, Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander backgrounds to study abroad.
Scholarships for Students of Color, Michigan State University: a comprehensive list of scholarships available to students of color considering study abroad.