Race and Ethnicity
Racial and ethnic relations vary by culture, meaning that while you’re abroad, you may be part of an ethnic minority or majority for the first time in your life or have to think about your identity in a new way. For instance, if you’re visiting a country where you have ethnic or racial roots, you may have to consider the local norms and expectations in ways that other students with different backgrounds may not. Remember that in countries with ethnic or racial conflicts, you may be inadvertently identified with one group or another simply based on your appearance. On the other hand, perhaps you’ll be considered a U.S. citizen first, and your ethnic or racial identity will be secondary. You can prepare yourself for the situations you may encounter by researching the minority, majority, and plurality racial and ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations
Steps to Take
- Ask Thoughtful Questions
- Research Your Host Country
- Identify Resources Available
- Discuss Your Study Abroad Plans
- Where do people of my race/ethnicity fit into my host country’s society? Am I likely to be a target of racism/classism, or am I going to be treated the same way in my host country as I am in the US?
- What are the cultural norms of my host country?
- What is the history of ethnic or racial tension in the country? Is the situation currently hostile to members of a minority race, majority race, or particular ethnicity or religion?
- Are issues of racism/ethnic discrimination influenced by immigration in my host country? How do politicized immigration concerns fuel racial tensions? What is the character of immigrant communities?
- Are there laws in the host country governing race relations? Ethnic relations? What protections are offered to ethnic or racial minorities?
- What are the ethnic, racial, religious, gender identities that characterize you? Reflect and learn how you can expect to be treated in your host country based on these characteristics.
- Read information on the topic, if available, on the official government website of your host country.
- Look at international news sources like The Economist to get a sense of current political and societal issues in your host country.
- On the CIA World Factbook website, look for your host country’s page and research the “People and Society” section, where you can find the breakdown by ethnic group, religion, and race.
- Visit the PLATO (Project for Learning Abroad, Training, and Outreach) resource page about diversity in study abroad, with information for African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander American, Hispanic-American, and Native American students preparing to study abroad.
- Unpacked: A Study Abroad Guide for Students Like Me
- Diversity Abroad Student Perspectives: The Benefits of Being a Minority Abroad
- A resource for Black students traveling abroad "Black+Abroad Virtual Series"
- Talk to your Study Abroad Advisor about putting you in contact with other students who have studied abroad before and can talk to you about their experience.
- Social supports in your host country and at home will help you navigate a new culture that will likely include new race/ethnic relations. Know whom to contact when you feel like your race or ethnic background are discriminated against while abroad.
- What are the opportunities you will have as a racial/ethnic minority – either in the US or in your host country, or both – studying abroad? Are there funding opportunities? Research opportunities for your thesis or capstone undergraduate project? Contact the URGO Office (Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity) and undergraduate departments like International Relations, Peace and Global Studies, and language departments to gain feedback from them.
- Speak with your Study Abroad Advisor about your plans for study abroad and any questions you have.
- Ask your advisor to put you in contact with a returnee student who can share their experiences abroad with you.
- Other offices at Augsburg that have resources and advising for students who are interested in learning more about race and ethnicity considerations abroad: