Studying Abroad: Opportunity and Challenge
Students studying abroad are likely to encounter many new and different things, from food, to language, to the way different cultures view fundamental issues like inequality and diversity. When learning while immersed in another culture, students can see nationality, race, ethnicity, social class, gender, sexuality, ability, and religion through a different lens.
These new experiences and ideas may be exciting, and at times they may be uncomfortable. Each, however, is an opportunity to gain new perspectives on oneself, on one’s home culture, and on one’s own place in the world.
Perceptions of You While Abroad
Students often wonder how they will be perceived in their host culture. For many this is an important question because a host culture’s perspectives on diverse identities may affect a student’s experience abroad.
Sometimes, a student may be perceived in ways that are emotionally and personally challenging. That does not mean, however, that the student should not study abroad. Instead, students should be informed, consider the cultural context of a host country in advance, and be prepared to step outside their comfort zone safely and knowledgeably.
Preparing for an Experience Abroad
Below are some resources to help students prepare for and navigate diverse experiences while learning abroad. Off-Campus Study advisers and peers—students from the host country and students who have studied abroad—are also great resources to consult.
- Diversity Abroad
- The PLATO Project (see specific resources for African American, Asian/Pacific Islander American, Hispanic American, and Native American students)
- "Glimpse" Race Abroad Acclimation Guide
- AllAbroad US
- Race and Ethnicity Abroad