Race & Ethnicity Resources

A black girl studying in front of the Tower Bridge in London.

It is important to recognize how cultural differences impact preconceptions of race and ethnicity. Regardless of your destination, begin now by researching how race and ethnicity are understood and defined within the society. Take the opportunity to understand the social and historical foundation for racial and ethnic tolerance. You can alleviate potential misunderstandings by learning as much as you can about the host culture where you’ll be living. Please discuss your questions and concerns about this or any other issue with your Education Abroad Advisor.

Preparing to Study Abroad

Before you leave the U.S., we encourage you to learn as much as possible about the country where you plan to study. Allow time to consider how your race or ethnicity may influence your encounters abroad. Just as there is discrimination in the United States, there may be similar cultural elements in the country where you’ll be living. How might you be perceived in this society and could this influence people’s interactions with you? What advantages, disadvantages, or privileges are associated with race and ethnicity in the host culture?

Speak with your UMW Education Abroad Advisor about these questions so that we can assist you in gathering the information you need.

While Living and Studying Abroad

While living abroad, you will likely have encounters that challenge your preconceived definitions of racism and prejudice. These interactions will allow you to explore specific cultural stereotypes and views of acceptance and tolerance. During your time abroad, you may examine your own beliefs and may arrive at a better understanding of yourself.

Take advantage of time abroad to understand how people in the host culture define racism and prejudice and how they choose to respond to it. Who are the minority populations in this culture and how might you connect with them? Will you be a minority in this culture? If so, how might this influence your engagement with the local culture? Will you be a member of the majority for the first time?

Bringing the Experience Home

Preparing for your return home is equally as important as preparing for your departure. Give thought to what you have gained from your study abroad experience. Before you return to the U.S. it is helpful to consider how changes in your self-identity may affect your relationship with family and friends back home.

What have you learned while abroad and how will you use the experience later? Did study abroad allow you to pursue research, volunteer in an overseas community, or serve an internship? Compare your pre-departure goals. Are you interested in sharing your experience with others?


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