It’s important for all students to understand cultural differences related to race and ethnicity before traveling abroad.
Research the historical and cultural climate of your host country.
- Remember that cultural norms vary by country!
- Researching the local culture and history can provide valuable insights into what to expect. As an example, locals may engage you in political discussions in some countries because politics is a less ‘taboo’ topic to bring up with strangers than in the U.S.
Be aware that locals may make assumptions based on physical appearance.
- In some countries, locals assume that Americans are white, and therefore may incorrectly identify your ethnicity based solely on your physical appearance. For example, people in Spanish-speaking countries may assume that Latinx students speak Spanish fluently.
Build a support network.
- Before and while abroad, identify individuals that you can talk to about your experiences abroad. This may include your peers, faculty members, onsite staff, or friends and family in the U.S. Writing a journal or blog may also be helpful in sharing your story.
Bring your ethnic beauty products with you.
- These items, such as hair care products or specific make-up shades, may be difficult to find abroad unless you are travelling to a country that aligns with your ethnic identity. If you are African-American, for example, you will likely find comparable hair products in Tanzania but not in Hong Kong.
Be sure to enjoy your time abroad!
- We encourage you to learn about the local culture and race relations, but do not let that keep you from enjoying the experience. Be prepared for what you may encounter, but don't go abroad expecting racism or discrimination.
- Texas A&M Department of Multicultural Services – provides resources and support for students from underrepresented and underserved racial and ethnic populations.
- Diversity Abroad – education abroad tips, scholarship opportunities, and resources for racial & ethnic minority students abroad – including articles and comprehensive guides with country specific information.
- AllAbroad – provides information and resources for multicultural students abroad.
- Black & Abroad – provides travel guides, tips and information written for the Black world travelers.