Students of Color Abroad

“One gets a good look at one’s country from this perspective, and one learns to see one’s nation with double eyes, to feel what we have got and what we have not got. I’ve learned more about America in one month in Paris than I could in one year in New York. Looking at this country makes all the unimportant phases of the AMERICAN problem fade somewhat and render the true problem more vivid.” -Richard Wright

As you research study abroad programs and start the process, you may want to consider how your perceived ethnicity and identity might be understood differently abroad. Be aware of your own cultural assumptions and expectations, and do research on sites you might be considering so you know what to expect when you go abroad. 

Ask your program coordinator to provide country-specific information on the racial climate in places you might be considering. Every study abroad program coordinator has access to the Diversity Network Country Climate Notes and can also provide resouces and research on sites you might consider. We want to support you as much as possible, so please let us know what questions or concerns you have.

Thinking through how you will handle issues related to your identity and researching potential host countries will better prepare you to make an informed decision so you can maximize your international experience.

Questions to Consider When Choosing a Program

  • How is my race/ethnicity perceived in countries I'm considering? Are there stereotypes associated with my race/ethnicity?
  • Do any of the countries I'm considering  have a history of prejudice/discrimination or  acceptance/inclusion with my ethnic group?
  • Am I going to be treated the same way abroad as I am in the US? Will I be perceived as a minority or majority for the first time?
  • Is there a history of ethnic or racial tension in the countries I'm considering? If so, is the situation currently hostile to members of a minority race, majority race, or particular ethnicity or religion?
  • Are there laws governing race relations? Ethnic relations? What protections are offered to ethnic or racial minorities?
  • How will I react if I encounter racism or other discriminatory behavior?
  • How will I feel if I am the only student of color in a cohort of other Americans on my program?


PLATO:  The Center for Global Education's PLATO Project (Project for Learning Abroad, Training, and Outreach) is an integrated study abroad training, certification, and diversity outreach program that provides comprehensive support resources for study abroad to all U.S. college and university students – with special support for underrepresented students.

Preparing to Depart

Although you may be classified somewhat generally by your race while in the United States, you may find that you are more often identified by your national identity (citizenship) or ethnic identity in your host country. If you travel to a location where you belong to the racial or ethnic majority, you may also find that expectations are different for you than they are for other Americans. Locals assume you speak the host language, or have the same cultural knowledge as them.
If you belong to a racial or ethnic group that is different than what is dominant in your host country, you might even find that locals will identify you by a completely different racial group than what you are used to, depending on the perceptions of different racial groups in your host country. You may find that local residents are curious about you, and express this curiosity in in ways that you might find insensitive or prejudiced.
It is important to prepare yourself for these possibilities, as well as do research on the ways your host country perceives different racial and ethnic identities. 

Questions to Consider

  • Is it likely that I will experience discrimination in my host country?  Historically, have people of color experienced discrimination in my host country?
  • What does it mean to be perceived as an American in my host country?
  • How is my racial and/or ethnic group perceived in my host country? Of what stereotypes should you be aware?
  • Will I be able to find appropriate hair care and skin care products and services in my host country? 
  • People may want to take photos of me, touch my hair or skin, or otherwise treat me in a way I find strange or upsetting. How do I plan to deal with these situations?

Tips for handling race and ethnicity abroad

You may find it empowering to facilitate conversations about race and ethnicity in your host country, however you are on your study abroad program to make the most of your adventure—don’t feel pressured to explain your identity to everyone all the time. Choose opportunities that suit you and that you have identified as safe and inclusive to have this conversation. It isn’t your job to educate everyone in your host country on your identity—you’re abroad for your own personal growth and education.

These conversations may take place with other students on your study abroad program. Some students find it more difficult to parse through issues with other students on the program than they do with individuals from the host country. Be prepared for these situations as well. If you ever feel unsafe, or feel that the discrimination is overwhelming, contact your on-site and KU program coordinators for assistance.

Resources is a valuable resource geared towards promoting study abroad opportunities for multicultural students. The site includes blogs, profiles and forums from underrepresented students studying abroad, financial resources, and a searchable program database.

The All Abroad website offers mentors who are students, parents, and advisers and are comfortable with addressing diversity concerns in the context of learning abroad.

Race Abroad for American's of Color Preparing to Live Abroad

African-American Students

Asian/Pacific American Students

Hispanic/Latino Students

Native American Students


Summer 2022 programs now accepting applications !

Study Abroad Information & Advising
Our office is available to help you with your study abroad questions.  Book a virtual appointment. 

Study Abroad Financial E-Advising
Personalized financial aid & scholarship advising Monday - Friday, 9 AM - 5 PM,
Book a virtual appointment.


Follow KU Study Abroad


Jayhawks Abroad Blog

Study Abroad Events
IIE Generation Study Abroad Partner

9th among public universities in the country for high quality, low cost study abroad programs — U.S. News & World Report
Longest-running exchange program in Western Hemisphere (begun in 1958) between KU and University of Costa Rica
18th in the nation among public universities for undergraduate participation in study abroad — Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange
28.1% of KU undergraduate students study abroad prior to graduation.
KU students who study abroad graduate in four years at twice the rate of students who do not study abroad
More than 160 study abroad programs in 75 countries, with instruction in all disciplines and 20+ languages
Students can study abroad for an academic year, semester, summer, spring break, or winter break
Programs include international study, internships, service, and research opportunities
Students participating in semester, academic year, and select summer programs fulfill Goal 4.2 of the KU Core curriculum
Students can fulfill major, minor, certificate, elective, and KU Core curriculum requirements abroad
Programs are available for students in every major at KU
Financial aid is applicable to study abroad programs, and most KU scholarships and grants can be applied to study abroad
Study Abroad & Global Engagement and many academic departments offer scholarships to qualified KU students
By studying abroad, students gain a global perspective on the world and strengthen their career opportunities
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times