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Racial Identity and Ethnicity Abroad

It has been known that there is a disproportionate gap between racially underrepresented groups and white students who studied abroad. While the number of racially underrepresented students who study abroad has increased, there are still many concerns that racially underrepresented students have like paying for study abroad opportunities and sentiments other countries may have about racially underrepresented groups. These concerns can be addressed by researching the host country you want to travel to and consider the questions below and reflect on the different experiences you may have abroad. By starting these conversations early, you can develop a realistic understanding of your host country and can reflect on how race or ethnicity may be experienced, viewed, and understood differently abroad.  
Some questions to ask yourself before going abroad might include: 
  • What universal or local stereotypes exist that could affect how my ethnic group, race of other aspect of my identity may be perceived in my host country? 
  • What are my preconceived notions about people in my host country? Are they valid? 
  • How should I react if I find something to be offensive? 
  • If someone asks something that I perceive as insensitive, does that mean they have bad intentions or are they just curious and inquiring in a way that may be ok in their culture? 
  • What can I do to influence the way people of my ethnicity are perceived by my host country? 
  • How will my being a member of a majority or a minority group in my home country influence my experience abroad? 
  • Does my program have support staff who will understand and help me through any racial or discriminatory incident I may face?  
  • Do I have any friends or peers at my school whom I can talk to about diversity abroad who also share my background and have already studied abroad? 
  • Are there any students from my host campus on my campus whom I can talk to? 

Additional Resources 
All Abroad 
This organization provides resources to help find funding opportunities, information about making study abroad support career development, reasons to study abroad, information to support diversity in study abroad, and information about discrimination abroad. 
IES Abroad: Race, Ethnicity and Nationality Resources 
This organization is a non-profit study abroad provider that has compiled resources on race, ethnicity and nationality abroad.  
Learning Abroad - Students of Color
This site provides resources for students of color. 
The Plato Project (Project for Learning Abroad, Training and Outreach) 
This web site has links to scholarships and articles for students who are underrepresented in study abroad.   

EIU's Office of Academic Inclusion and Engagement
Our office endeavors to pursue, promote and maintain programs that will heighten the awareness, presence and success of minorities and other under–represented groups on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. Our staff offers personal support, answers questions, provides information on special scholarships and internships, dispenses relevant academic information, and provides general information on campus life and social activities. In addition, the office monitors campus climate, collects data and acts as general ombudsman for minority student problems.

Studying Abroad for Black Women by Adrianna Smith – Book 
This book details the experiences of a Black woman studying abroad in Spain and offers to advice to other students thinking about studying abroad.

AFS USA - Resources for Black Students 
Provides a list of resources for Students of color. One example is of an article on Managing Black Hair Abroad.