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Diversity Resources

There are various factors to consider as you discern which study abroad location is best for you. In addition to academic and co-curricular fit, we encourage you to research your host country and get a sense of belief systems and values to determine if they differ heavily from your own or perhaps are more closely aligned than you previously thought.

Depending on your race and ethnicity, there are social, political and personal considerations you should make while planning your future education abroad endeavor, because your experience abroad will be influenced by your unique identities.

As you consider and prepare for an international experience, use the following questions to guide you in self-reflection. This is not an exhaustive list and you may relate to multiple identities. When reflecting on your race and cultural background and its impact on your study experience, we also encourage you to establish what is important and necessary for you and determine how you would navigate new situations.

  • What is the racial/ethnic make-up of my host country/city/university?
  • How is my racial/ethnic group perceived in my host country? What kind of stereotypes are there?
  • What are the cultural and local attitudes towards people of my nationality, race, and ethnicity in my host country?
  • Is there any local community that shares my heritage—and what are my feelings about having or not having such a community available to me?
  • Are there any conflicts going on within the host country that citizens and visitors of color should be especially aware of? If so, what is the government/police’s role in the conflict?
  • Has my host family housed students of color before? If not, will this be an issue for them?
  • Am I used to being part of the majority at home but will be a minority abroad? Or vice versa?
  • Will there be other students of color in my program?
  • How would I react if I find something to be offensive?
  • Who should I contact if I do face racial or discriminatory incidents?
  • Does my program have support staff that will understand and help me through any racial or discriminatory incident I may face?
  • What expectations do I have of this experience?
  • How can I create my support system while I am abroad? Who are the people I need to have access to while abroad?
  • Research funding opportunities that you may qualify for as a racial/ethnic minority studying abroad – either in the U.S., in your host country, or both.
  • Students with afro-textured hair may require services from stylists or salons that are not easily accessible abroad. Do some research on your host country and don't forget to stock up on your preferred hair products in case they are not available abroad.
  • You may experience a shift in privilege depending on where you travel. You may find that you have access to certain kinds of mobility that are not accessible to some communities abroad. For example, while you may not consider yourself economically privileged at home, you may be considered wealthy by that community's standards because of your ability to travel and pursue a college education in another country.
  • In the U.S., your race/ethnicity may be a defining factor of your identity, but while abroad, you might be perceived as an American first.
  • In contrast, assumptions about what Americans look like may cause others abroad to question the fact that you're an American. They might ask you questions about your nationality and cultural heritage, even after you've already stated that you are an American. Recognize that these questions are a result of a lack of awareness about the racial and ethnic demographics of the U.S. rather than prejudice.
  • When visiting racially/ethnically homogeneous areas, you may encounter curious locals who have never seen people who look like you, and so they might stare at you excessively, take photos of you, or even try to touch you/your hair. If it makes you uncomfortable, politely express your discomfort and they will most likely respect your boundaries.
  • Social support in your host country and at home will help you navigate a new culture that will likely include new racial/ethnic relations. Know whom to contact when you feel like your race or ethnic background are discriminated against while abroad.
  • Having a support system of family, friends, and/or romantic partners may also help you deal with feelings of isolation and culture shock.
  • Knowing the social and historical situation in your host country can help you prepare for the transition from the U.S. and back. This helps you be prepared if any incidents arise, however don’t expect prejudice to happen.

Open Doors shares information on the increasing number of students with disabilities who participate in an education abroad experience. The percentage of students going abroad with a disability has rose from 2.6% in 2006/07 to 9.2% in 2017/18.

The CDC website provides the public with information on traveling with a disability is various countries. The CDC websites provides numerous resources for students on information pertaining to accessibility in different areas of the world.

Students can visit Travel.State.Gov for information on each country for travelers who are mobility impaired. This website provides information on laws pertaining to “accessibility for, discrimination against, persons with physical, intellectual, or mental disabilities.”

Transitions Abroad provides students with articles on traveling with a disability, international programs for disability travel, and organizations for disability travel.

MIUSA (Mobility International USA) provides students with articles and best practices for those traveling abroad with accessibility needs, articles and best practices that help those working with students with disabilities including preparations, accommodations, cultural adjustment, inclusive practices, disclosure and advocacy, housing and bathrooms, etc., assessable travel guide recommendations, a scholarship list, and community and stories from students.

The Diversity Abroad mission is, “to create equitable access to the benefits of global education by empowering educators, engaging stakeholders, and connecting diverse students to resources and opportunity.” The website includes articles, resources, scholarships and more.

The UNCW Disability Resource Center (DRC) and UNCW Counseling Center are wonderful resources here on campus for UNCW students. We encourage you to work alongside the DRC and Counseling Center to discuss concerns or questions as you prepare for your experience.

Contact Information

Education Abroad

Hoggard Hall 149