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,
- Will I be accepted by the citizens in my home/host region? What should I do if I’m
- 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
- 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