Racial Identity and Ethnicity Abroad
According to GlobalDiversityAbroad.org, minorities represent less than 4% of the students who study abroad. Webster strives to make study abroad as accessible to each student as much as possible. We want students to be able to have the opportunity to step outside of their own cultures in order to gain education and career incentives, increase one's self-confidence and to experience true cultural (and linguistic) immersion. Study abroad also facilitates lifelong friendships with not only other study abroad students, but also students from around the globe.
As a minority student abroad, there is the possibility that you will encounter some form of discrimination abroad. Regardless of your race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religion or gender, you may have faced prejudice in your home location as well. Facing discrimination abroad may be more difficult to students because you are in a new location and you want to feel at home.
Students may want to ask themselves some important questions while making the decision to study abroad.
- How is my ethnicity perceived in my study abroad location?
- Will being a member of a minority group influence my study abroad experience?
- Am I choosing to study abroad in a large, cosmopolitan location or in a smaller, more homogenous setting?
- What are the ethnic stereotypes of the location? Do the people have any preconceived notions of my identity?
- If you find someone to be insensitive, examine the situation. Is the person trying to do you harm or are they just curious and don't realize that they are being offensive?
- How can I react if I find someone is being offensive?
- What resources are available to me overseas? Are there student groups, local organizations or university staff that will be able to help?
Don't let the possibility of discrimination stop you from the benefits of studying abroad!
Webster University has a large number of study abroad alumni from various backgrounds. We always recommend discussing your options with our past study abroad students to see what obstacles they faced overseas—and how to learn from them.
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