Racial & Ethnic Minority Students
The Education Abroad office encourages all students to study abroad but recognizes that students of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds may face unique challenges as definitions of race vary from culture to culture.
Students may encounter a broad range of attitudes regarding diversity issues that may result in stares, comments, or even worse blatant prejudice by the host population. There may even be people who will be eager to touch your hair or skin. Often people in your host country will be curious, and some may ask questions about your cultural heritage that feel insensitive. Keep in mind that people in other countries have different cultural norms and are often more blunt and less "politically correct" compared to the United States. We encourage students to do research into social norms and cultural practices of the host country before leaving to study abroad. EA staff members are available to answer questions about the study abroad process and to help you to understand how diversity issues may be experienced and understood differently abroad.
Here are a few example questions to help you think about race and ethnicity abroad:
- What is the relationship between my host country and the United States?
- What does it mean to be perceived as an American in a foreign country?
- How is my ethnic group perceived in my host country? What kind of stereotypes are there?
- What types of experiences do students of color typically have on the programs (or in the country) I am considering?
- Will I experience discrimination in the country I study in? Is there a history of a particular type of discrimination in my host country? Who will I contact if I face racial or discriminatory incidents?
Your Support Network Abroad
Leaving your friends and family at home to go to another country can be a daunting decision. We encourage you to carefully select the program that will best fit your needs. The Education Abroad office offers programs with varying levels of support on-site. Programs range from those for very independent students who want to study directly in another university to those for strictly UW-Platteville who need or want lots of support, with a multitude of options falling in between. Speak with an Education Abroad Advisor about the level of support you would like on a program, and they will help you select the right program for you. Build a support network with other study abroad students on your program, so that if you do experience discrimination you'll have support to deal with it.
Your Support At Home
Some students are hesitant to study abroad because of family responsibilities or commitments to friends and family. As you are deciding to study abroad, be sure to include your family and friends. Get them excited about your program too. The Education Abroad office has resources for parents as well that we are happy to share with you.
All Abroad - This site offers mentors who are students, parents, and advisers and are comfortable with addressing diversity concerns in the context of learning abroad. Also available are specific resources for African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander American, Hispanic-American and Native-American students.
PLATO - This website lists scholarship and financial aid information for students of color in higher education and study abroad.