Race and Ethnicity Abroad

Vietnam, Remember Miss Nho - Ann Marie Tran

Race & Ethnicity Abroad

According to the Institute of International Education Open Doors Project, over a quarter of a million American students studied abroad in the 2014-15 school year. Of the 313,415 students who studied abroad, 27.1% identified as U.S. racial or ethnic minorities. Most students who have studied abroad describe the experience as both rewarding and challenging. For students who identify as racial or ethnic minorities, some of the rewards and challenges may be directly related to identity.

When you travel abroad, you are perceived through a new cultural filter that may categorize and interpret your race, ethnicity and other identity attributes quite differently than what you are used to in the U.S. Being abroad will present opportunities to think about identity in a new cultural context, and this can be a rewarding learning experience that challenges the way you think about yourself, your community and your place in the world.

UC Santa Cruz Study Abroad is committed to facilitating the participation of students from diverse backgrounds. Study Abroad Advisors are available to answer questions about the study abroad process and to help provide resources that shed light on how race or ethnicity may be experienced, viewed and understood differently abroad.

Early discussions about race and ethnicity can help you develop a realistic understanding of how your identity might play into the experience in different locations.

To help facilitate the discussion of race and ethnicity with your Study Abroad Advisor, or any potential study abroad program provider, here are a few examples of questions you may want to consider:

  • How will I be perceived in my host community?
  • How many students of color typically study on the programs I am considering?
  • Will I experience discrimination in the country I study in? Who can I talk to about it if I do?
  • I will be studying in the country my parents are from, but I have never been there before and I don't speak the language. Can I contact other "heritage" students who may have done this before me so I can learn from their experiences?
  • Are there additional funding sources I can look into?
  • How can I explain to my family that a study abroad experience can contribute to the achievement of my career goals?

In addition to the assistance that your Study Abroad Advisor can provide, below you will find a list of relevant UC links and external resources which focus on race and ethnicity abroad. These resources include organizations, articles, success stories, and tips intended for diverse groups of students who would like more information about traveling abroad.


Internal Links

Engaging Education (e²) is a Student-Initiated Outreach and Retention Center for student engagement and academic excellence. It is a supportive and dynamic space for programming that addresses the low rates of recruitment, retention and graduation that historically under resourced communities face within higher education.

UC Santa Cruz provide resources for various ethnic groups through the following centers: African American Resource and Cultural Center (AARCC), American Indian Resource Center (AIRC), Asian American/Pacific Islander Resource Center (AA/PIRC), Chicano Latino Resource Center (El Centro).

External Links

Diversity Abroad


  • Links to organizations, resources, and scholarships that support academic advancement for underrepresented groups.

All Abroad

  • This resource is intended to "help all students study abroad." The site includes travel and study tips, additional resources, and information geared toward specific ethnic and racial groups. 

Diversity in Study Abroad from Brown University

  • This resource includes quotes and stories from study abroad returnees who identify as ethnic and racial minorities in the U.S.
  • It also includes testimonials from students who describe the experience of being in an ethnic or racial minority in their study abroad host country.

Michigan State University Multicultural Scholarship Page

  • A list of study abroad scholarships for multicultural students, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino/Latina Americans, and American Indians.