CIE 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. Often people in the host country will be curious, and some may ask questions about their 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. It is highly recommended that students research social norms and cultural practices of the host country before leaving to study abroad.

Studying Abroad as a Minority Student

Tips for Racial and Ethnic Minority Students:

  • Remember that people abroad have different cultural norms and tend to be less “politically correct” than people in the U.S..
  • The more that students integrate with the culture the less they will stand out, but skin, hair or other features may still attract attention.
  • Research what kinds of contact and relations your minority group has had in the host country.
  • Be aware that people may generalize or incorrectly identify your ethnicity.
  • Learn more about other minority students’ experiences abroad. Connect with a study abroad coordinator to learn about previous students who have studied abroad on that specific program.
  • Build a support network among other study abroad students so that if you do face racial or discriminatory incidents you’ll have support to deal with it.
    • Also have a support network back at home. Support networks can include, family, friends, significant others, etc. CIE’s study abroad coordinators will continue to support you while you are abroad.
  • Be prepared if an incident does arise, but don’t go abroad expecting racism or discrimination to occur.

Additional Resources

Even while students abroad are still Panthers!, they are first and foremost UWM students, and are always welcome to contact the Inclusive Excellence Center.