"I think it is important to know that you may be going to a country without people of color. While abroad I was questioned constantly and gawked at in the streets. It's just important to realize that it is a learning experience for others as well. You may be helping them to learn something without even knowing it, and often times they do not mean to be disrespectful at all."
Maya India McCoy firstname.lastname@example.org
--Summer 2002 study in Costa Rica through FSU program
--Winter Break 2002-03 Horticulture, Land Use & Environmental Issues in Chile
Given today's global economies, it is imperative that all students acquire knowledge of and sensitivity to global issues. This knowledge and experience will enable students to participate fully in tomorrow's workforce that will be even more ethnically and culturally diverse than it is today. MSU's Office of Study Abroad, therefore, encourages greater diversity in study abroad, particularly among multicultural students. Not only will your participation make you competitive for graduate school and in the work place, it will also ensure that our programs reflect the diversity of our campus and our country.
You may experience anxiety regarding your acceptance in or ability to adapt socially and academically to your new culture. As a student of color, you may be concerned about facing potential racial bias and prejudice without the comfort of your usual support system. On the other hand, you may be looking forward to being part of the majority population for the first time in your life. Or, you may be planning a self-discovery sojourn to the country or region of your family's heritage. Whatever reasons you have for studying abroad, you will find that confronting and coping with your adjustment abroad, as painful as it may be at times, can be a positive growth experience. It may not always be fun, but in fact, it can present a unique learning opportunity that will serve you well in the future.
Encountering a new culture will enable you to tap into social and intellectual capabilities you may have never experienced before and force you to discover what you have taken for granted about yourself as an individual and a member of a particular ethnic or racial group. Understanding another culture will enhance your self-awareness, lead to personal growth, and help you develop a greater acceptance and compassion for cultural differences. You may not always admire or endorse the conditions abroad, but it is guaranteed that you will better understand the US upon return.
Below are some tips to help you consider studying abroad, prepare for your journey, deal with situations abroad, and incorporate your experience into your everyday life after you return.