Preparing to Study Abroad
Preparing to study abroad can be very unsettling, because students may know little about the new culture and environment in which they will be living. As students prepare for this experience, they should allow time to consider how their race or ethnicity may influence their encounters abroad. Just as there is discrimination and racial prejudice in the United States, there may be similar in a student's host country. Students should consider these questions: How might you be viewed in this society and could this influence people's interactions with you? What disadvantages and privileges are associated with race and ethnicity in this culture? Students should speak with their UK Education Abroad advisor about these questions so that we can assist in the gathering the proper information.
While Living & Studying Abroad
While abroad, students will likely have encounters that challenge their preconceived definitions of racism and prejudice. These interactions allow students to explore culturally specific stereotypes and views of acceptance and tolerance. During time abroad, a student may examine his/her own values and beliefs and arrive at a better understanding of his or herself. Students should take advantage of this experience abroad to understand how people in the host culture define racism and prejudice and how they choose to respond to it. Some good questions to think about include: Who are the minority populations in this culture and how might you connect with them? Do you know the laws related to racial discrimination in the host country? Will you be a minority in this culture, and if so, how might this influence your engagement with the local culture? Will you be a member of a majority for the first time?
Bringing the Experience Home
Preparing for the return home is as important as preparing for departure. Students should think about what has been gained from this experience. What have you learned while abroad and how will you use the experience later on? Did study abroad allow you to pursue new research or have an internship? Compare these to the pre-departure goals. Are you interested in sharing your experience with others? Before returning to the US it is helpful to consider how changes in self-identity may affect relationships with family and friends back home.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural Center
133 Student Center
Office for Institutional Diversity
311 Main Building