Student Identity (Underrepresented Students) and Education Abroad
On any education abroad program, matters of or related to personal identity may impact any student. One student may experience being a minority in a community for the very first time, and for others they may receive unwanted attention based on identity, whether it be positive or negative. It is essential to remember that you do have control over how you respond to the attention.
How you identify in the US may not necessarily match how you will be identified abroad. As a student of an Education Abroad program, those in the host country may first identify you as an American/citizen of the US. This may not be how you categorize yourself as at home. Additionally, you may see yourself as a poor college student in the US; however, because of your ability to travel some in your host country may see you as someone with a lot of money.
We encourage all of our students to think of each of the parts that make up you and your identity such as student type, your race/ethnicity, religious belief, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Certain parts of your identity are more easily observable by others, such as skin color or age, but there are others parts of your identity that are harder to notice and observe, such as a member in a fraternity or a community volunteer. Will you want to discuss these parts of your identity with people in your host country? And if so, how? How shall you react based on an offensive comment made on an easily observable piece to your identity? Remember to think about how these pieces to your identity may impact your values. Will your identity change while you are completing your Education Abroad program?
Keep in mind that just as you have multiple parts that make up you and your identity, those in your host country do too. Do not limit them to just one identity either based on something observable. Be open to their multiple identities, just as you would like from them, and try to learn the different parts that make up the whole identity of your new friends. In return they will learn the different pieces that make up your own personal puzzle.
Is Education Abroad for me?
We believe there is an Education Abroad program for each and every student, but we understand that students often wonder, "Is Education Abroad right for me?" Here are some important things to remember...
- EA is a great resume-builder and may even open up new opportunities for graduate school or have you stand apart compared to other job candidates.
- With increasing globalization, it is important to have second/foreign language skills, problem-solving skills, and international knowledge with a global perspective.
- You can earn credits toward graduation through an EA program, and with some detailed planning it will not delay your graduation date.
- As a student, you are eligible for scholarships and financial aid to assist with payment of your program.