How racial and ethnic identities are defined and understood vary by culture. In some locations, you may be identified with existing cultural or ethnic groups within the host country, or you may be considered as a U.S.-American first, and your ethnic or racial identity will be secondary. While you’re abroad, you may be part of a racial or ethnic minority or majority for the first time in your life. Or you may have to think about your identity in a new way in light of the local norms and expectations, in ways that other students with different backgrounds may not.
Things to Consider
(adapted from Northwestern University Study Abroad)
- What are the minority, majority, and plurality racial and ethnic composition of my host country?
- Where do people of my race/ethnicity fit into my host country’s society? Am I likely to be a target of racism/classism, or am I going to be treated the same way in my host country as I am in the US?
- What is the history of racial and ethnic relations and/or tensions in my host country? Is the situation currently hostile to members of a minority race, majority race, or particular ethnicity or religion?
- Are issues of racism/ethnic discrimination influenced by immigration in my host country? How do politicized immigration concerns fuel racial tensions? What is the character of immigrant communities?
- Are there laws in the host country governing race relations? Ethnic relations? What protections are offered to ethnic or racial minorities?
Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC) serves as a gathering place for communities of color. Students are encouraged to build meaningful relationships across difference, develop racial and ethnic consciousness, and enact change at Brown and beyond.
Michigan State University, Office of Study Abroad, Articles for and by Multicultural Students
All Abroad, Helping All Students to Study Abroad, Diversity Resources maintains a broad range of resources to help students of color find study abroad programs that meet their needs, including reasons to study abroad, information to support diversity in study abroad, and information about discrimination abroad.
Transitions Abroad, “Top 10 Reasons for African American Students to go Abroad”
The Center for Global Education Project for Learning Abroad, Training and Outreach (PLATO) offers links to organizations, resources, and scholarships that support academic advancement for underrepresented groups.
CIA World Factbook: The “People and Society” section on each country's page provides demographic information (ethnic group, religion, and race).