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Racial & Ethnic Minorities Abroad

Race and identity can be experienced very differently in different cultural contexts. The way you're perceived here in the US could be very different from how you might be viewed in another country.  While this can be surprising for some students, it can be an amazing opportunity to learn more about yourself as a person and reflect on how race and ethnicity are perceived and defined in a different setting, as well as what assumptions and perceptions you bring to the world around you.  

In order to have a great experience, it’s always best to plan and prepare. Begin researching your destination to learn as much as you can before you go. This could include an understanding of ethnic makeup for the region and how race and ethnicity factor into local identities. 

The office of Cultural Engagement and Social Change is dedicated to helping UTA students explore and express their identities and promote open dialogue. They are a fantastic resource to prepare you for exploring your own identity while abroad and how to engage in meaningful dialogue with the people you’ll encounter in your host country. 

Questions to Consider 

Use these questions as you consider studying abroad reach out to the office of Cultural Engagement and Social Change or UTA’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) if you need any help exploring these questions. 

  • What cultural attitudes, laws, or context exist towards multicultural students in the host country? You will need to consider what the racial, religious, or other majorities are in your intended host country as you answer this question. 
  • Are there local tensions in my host country around my social identity groups that might influence my experience abroad? 
  • Are there opportunities for study abroad students to indicate a preference for a roommate with a similar cultural or religious background as themselves? 
  • Are there multicultural community activities on campus at the host institution or nearby? 
  • How open will I be about my cultural heritage with people in my host country? How might this impact my experience abroad? 
  • Nationality vs. racial identity: In the U.S., you may be identified first by your race. When you’re abroad, it is possible that you may be identified first as an American. How will you prepare for this possible shift in the way others perceive your identity? 
  • Being in the majority vs. minority: Will you be traveling to a country where you will be perceived to be in the majority? Alternatively, will you be perceived as a minority? How will these experiences differ from being in the U.S.? 
  • How will you stay in touch with your support network back home while you are abroad? 
  • How will you incorporate your experiences abroad back into my life at UTA upon your return, especially if you have been a racial minority for the first time while abroad? 


  • Black & Abroad  – provides travel guides, tips and information written for the Black world travelers.  

Quotes from Mavericks Who Went Abroad

“I became more culturally aware of my heritage. I have also grown to appreciate not only my roots, but to be a part of both amazing worlds.” 

Ari Vite 
UTA – Spanish in Cuernavaca, Summer 2019 

“...Don’t let your racial or ethnicity background make you afraid to experience a country with a whole new population and culture.” 

Michael Costilla 
Hanyang International Summer School, Summer 2019 

“Being a half Vietnamese person living in America, I was able to observe how my ethnic group lived in other societies and also the different relationship between minorities and majorities in a different country. Also being a first generation college student, it made my parents proud to say that I was doing big things and seeing the world by myself because they didn’t have the economic opportunity to do so themselves when they were younger.” 

Jonathan Cook 
Norwegian Business School, Summer 2018 

“Do not be afraid to study abroad even if you are of a racial minority. There are so many scholarships for underrepresented groups to study abroad, so take advantage of it, and go!” 

Ayleen Arteaga 
USAC Spain Valencia Spanish Culture, Language & STEM, Fall 2017 

Content developed with assistance from University of Michigan, UNT, Diversity Abroad, MIUSA, and Forum.