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Race and Ethnicity

Students of color will face unique challenges and opportunities during their study abroad experiences. Some host countries will view race or ethnicity as an important part of their identity, while others may downplay these categories. Depending on your background, this could be your first experience being in a minority, or majority racial/ethnic group.  Race and ethnicity are socially-constructed concepts, and the local context will play a significant role in your experiences.

How is the idea of diversity viewed in your host community? Some cultures may view diversity to mean immigrants, a particular religious group, people with lower socioeconomic status, or a particular minority group. The concept of diversity may make these conversations difficult, or mean that people are very curious about foreigners who do not fit into their existing framework.

Keep in mind that you will also be a part of an American study abroad group, and may find this to play a larger role in others’ perceptions of you than you have ever experienced. Think about who will support you if you encounter challenges adjusting to these perceptions/

Students from European backgrounds or who are white-passing should recognize this part of their identity and contemplate how white privilege shapes their experiences abroad. It is important to understand the history of your host country and community, including colonial and post-colonial international relations, and how that may influence others perceptions of you and of your non-white peers on your program. This may differ significantly in your host country compared to what you have experienced at home.

Below we have included some helpful resources to serve as a guide.  Did you know that our Center has a staff member dedicated to helping students navigate these issues? We welcome you to discuss your situation and plans further with us by making an appointment or sending us an email: Meghan Mason,

Diversity Abroad Articles for Minority & Students of Color

IFSA Study Abroad Stories on Race and Ethnicity 

IES Race, Ethnicity, & Nationality Resources, including Country-Specific Resources, Family Guide in Spanish, and DACA Resources (scroll DACA and click to expand)

CIEE Diversity & Inclusion City-Specific Resources for Studying Abroad

Arcadia Student Blogs on Racial and Ethnic Identity

Black Student Guide to Global Programs and Latinx Guide to Global Programs

Contextualized Consciousness: The Contribution of Study Abroad to Self-Understandings of Black Male Student Travelers article by Professor Dr. Bennett and colleagues

The Black Expat: Black Identity + International Living 

My Experience with Race and Ethnicity Abroad (in Australia), blog post by Becca Lind ‘19 

Black History Month Video Series from Temple Rome

Student Experiences with Race in Ireland Video

Managing Black Hair Abroad Student Blog

Navigating Spain as a Black Person Student Blog

Student Voices – Examining Identity Within the Study Abroad Experience

Black & Abroad Website 

Travel Noire Website

Glimpse Race Abroad, Resources for Americans of Color Preparing to Live Abroad from University of Minnesota

We Represent, A Conference For Us, By Us YouTube Recordings

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack article