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Study Abroad Office

Three students stand on a glacial formation

Heritage Seekers

Racial and ethnic minorities in the United States have historically studied abroad at lower rates than their counterparts. However, there have been small but consistent increases in study abroad participation rates among students of color. The students from underrepresented groups who do participate in study abroad programs are motivated by a variety of factors including cultural heritage. For these students, studying abroad in their homeland provides a unique opportunity to connect and learn about their ancestral and cultural history. When studying abroad in their ancestral land, students may find that their perceptions of their host country will be challenged. Students may find that the local community accepts them because of shared ethnic ties, but students may still be viewed as an outsider due to cultural and national identity differences. Heritage students will be able to learn more about themselves and how they identify with others throughout their experience abroad. Talk to your Study Abroad Advisor about the possibility of choosing a program that explores your heritage.

Questions to consider with an Advisor/by yourself:
  • How do I learn more about my country of origin?
  • How will my heritage, race, and ethnicity be perceived in my home/host country?
  • What aspects of my heritage am I most interested in learning more about (Religion, Language, Cuisine)?
  • Will I be accepted by the citizens in my home/host region? What should I do if I’m not accepted?
  • Will there be other heritage students in my program?
  • Am I used to being part of the minority at home? How will it be to be a part of the majority abroad?
  • Do I speak the language of my home/host country and how will that affect my experience?
  • How should I react if other students in the program look to me to be an “expert” even if I’m not?
  • How should I react if someone generalizes of incorrectly identifies my ethnicity?
Tips for having a positive study abroad experience:
  • Find international students from your host country at your home university
  • Take a DNA test to determine your ancestry
  • Research the culture of your host country to find out what similarities and differences exist between how you were raised and the host culture.
  • Be aware that people may generalize or incorrectly identify your ethnicity
Resources:

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