Race and Ethnicity Abroad

Issues of race vary depending on the student and the host country. Some students may be racial minorities at home but will be studying in a country where their race is the majority. Others may face becoming a racial minority for the first time. In many cases, students may find that race is less an issue than their nationalities. It is important that students be aware of their own expectations and cultural assumptions; identifying and reflecting on their own experiences with racial issues before studying abroad can help students adjust to new situations, perceptions and attitudes they may encounter overseas.  Other cultures have very different ways of dealing with these issues.  For example, it may be common and perfectly acceptable in some cultures to refer to a person by physical characteristics, such as height, age, weight, color, etc., instead of or in addition to his or her name. Students may encounter individuals who range from overly curious to completely disinterested in their racial backgrounds.  The more aware and prepared you are about these issues in your host country the less likely you will be to have a negative response in an unfamiliar situation. Use the links below to find more information on race and ethnicity abroad:


In addition to general information pertaining to underrepresented groups and study abroad, this site provides resources relevant to racial diversity in study abroad under four subcategories: Advice for African Americans, Advice for Asian/ Pacific Americans, Advice for Hispanic/ Latino Americans and Advice for Native Americans. More information here. (External Link)

Brown University’s Diversity Issues in Study Abroad booklet

This is a collection of quotes by Brown University students about their experiences abroad. The quotes were gathered through a survey of returning study abroad students. The survey directly addressed issues of diversity in study abroad including ethnicity, heritage, sexual orientation, religion, minority/majority issues, physical appearance, and language. More information here. (PDF, External Link)

University of Pittsburgh- Access International Education

A site designed for students who are members of underrepresented groups, featuring The World is in Your Hands Student Guide a resource for African American students interested in study abroad. More information here. (External Link)

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