Living in a different country will often mean you are living amongst different communities and ethnicities.
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The Diversity Guide to Study Abroad provides useful information and guidance to students from all backgrounds.
When looking at locations, consider the population demographics and how diverse the country is. You may stand out and attract attention, and there may be very few others of your ethnicity at your host organisation or in your area.
On the flip side you might find that you are in an ethnic majority which could be a new experience that would allow for different cultural experiences. To help prepare, it’s important to research how your ethnic group is perceived in your host country before you go.
- Find support networks. Are there local societies you could join e.g. in the student union or a local meet up group? It’s a great way to make friends and allies. If you are going abroad as a solo traveller, use social media and online groups (e.g., on Facebook) to meet like-minded travellers which will help fight any feelings of isolation. Read Abigail’s story about how her experience as a black student in Copenhagen
- Research your destination’s attitudes towards race and ethnicity and their legal discrimination policies. If they do not have anything in place which protects against discrimination in the workplace, street harassment etc. consider how comfortable you would be staying there for a short or extended period of time
- You may stand out whilst abroad and this can at times bring unwanted attention or put you more at risk of being targeted by thieves. Remain vigilant and aware. Integrating with the local culture will help you to stand out less although certain of you features may still attract attention
- Consider the experience of your peers whilst abroad and how you can support each other and be allies. It is important you consider the local culture and cultural norms which may be very similar or very different to what you know. The more different, the more fun and interesting your time can be, but educating yourself before travelling can help ensure you are being respectful during your time abroad
Discrimination in any form is unacceptable and experiencing this abroad in an unfamiliar setting is no different. If you experience incidents at your host organisation ensure you know how and where to report this and do speak to someone. If you experience incidents in your host city or local area, then it may be best to contact the police. You can always contact the Global Opportunities team at Goldsmiths for support.
Below are a few resources that might be useful:
- The Diversity Abroad website has lots of advice and guidance
- Read about some of the experiences of travelling as a black student in Japan, Spain and Costa Rica
- There are also great blogs by Asian travellers: Happy to Wander and Wild Junket, including the perspective of a gay Asian man.
- Check out popular travel hashtags e.g. #blackin______, #asiantravel
Contact the Global Opportunities team if you have further queries.