Identities Abroad

Before You Go

It is essential to choose a global learning program that will serve your personal, professional, and academic goals. Once you have browsed and picked some programs from our location offerings, you might think about what role your identities might play in the global learning community. 

It is helpful to voice any concerns or questions you have with our Study Abroad Advisor. We understand it can be intimidating being a part of the ethnic minority abroad, especially in a new cultural setting. Here are a couple points of discussions you might want to engage in during your advising meeting:

  • How many students of color typically study on the programs I am considering?

  • How will I be perceived in my host community because of my ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, or sexual identity?

  • Will I experience discrimination in the country I study in? Who can I talk to about it if I do?

  • I will be studying away in search of heritage, culture, or diaspora community. Can I contact other students who may have done this before? 

  • Are there additional funding sources or scholarships that I can look into?

  • How can I talk to my loved ones about studying abroad or away?

Another valuable resource is speaking to SMC study abroad alumni from your respective communities. Given our strong network, we can connect you with previous participants. It is important to research the experiences of people you share identities with within your desired study abroad destination. Gaining insights about being away will help you prepare for global learning and make final decisions that best suit you. 

 

While You’re Abroad

While participating in your study abroad program, you may find yourself as the only person of a racial, ethnic, socioeconomic background or sexual identity. Sometimes, you could find yourself surrounded by individuals who share the same identities. Other times, you may find yourself being a minority within the group of other students in your program, but looking like a part of the majority in the university setting. It is important to know you are not alone. You have support from our office alongside advisors and coordinators from your respective program provider. We are available via email and can schedule a call that fits your schedule. If at any time you want to address your concerns about your identities while away, you should feel free to contact any and all advisors, firstly initiating this conversation with on-site staff.

When traveling out of the United States, you may be perceived through a new cultural lens that may interpret your identity differently than what you are used to in the U.S. People may be curious and even challenge the fact that you come from America, yet do not fit their imagined identity of how someone from the U.S. might look like. With that in mind, it is important to consider that not everyone around the world has been exposed to the history of the United States or the histories of your origin place. They may not understand your reality as someone who identifies with a certain ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, or sexuality nor understand what it is like being a minority in America. It is not your place to educate them as you are abroad for you, not to be a representative of your identity. If situations like this arise, please be open-minded and understand where their infatuation is coming from while keeping the conversation short and simple. Again, we are available to offer support virtually or in-person through your respective program providers. Your safety and comfortability is our top priority. 

 

Once You Return

Upon returning, we will be delighted to hear about your global learning experience. Your experience is a powerful tool that can help us understand where we can improve to provide the best support for students with diverse backgrounds and help those with the same identities that plan on studying abroad after you. Feel free to schedule a meeting with us to share your study abroad experience. Our doors are always open to learn from you. If you would like to be a peer mentor and help future students prepare for their experience, please reach out! Your story offers so much valuable information for the SMC community.

 

Student Resources

General Resource(s)