Students of Color Abroad

Diversity and Identity

Students of Color Abroad

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As a student of color, you may have some specific concerns regarding studying abroad. However, the Office of Education Abroad believes these concerns should be addressed early, and that they should not prevent you from studying abroad. Throughout the study abroad process, students have to navigate academic requirements, program costs, and what it means to be an American in a global context. The Education Abroad Office is here to provide support throughout this process, from before you start your application to the time you return to PSU. We are confident that an international experience can be possible and will likely be one of the highlights of your time at Portland State.

Things to Consider

  • American Identity vs. Racial or Ethnic Identity: In the U.S., you may be identified first by your race or ethnic identity, however, while you’re abroad, it is possible that you may be identified first as an American.
  • Being in the Majority vs. Minority: Are you studying in a country where you will be in the majority? Is this a priority for you? How will this affect your own perception of your racial or ethnic identity? If you are studying in a country in which you will be a minority, how will it differ from being in the U.S.?
  • Studying within your Heritage Culture: What are you looking to get out of this experience? What views does the host culture have of heritage students?
  • Generalizations: Based solely on your appearance, people may assume you’re from a certain country, make generalizations about your race, or incorrectly guess your ethnicity. How will you navigate these situations?
  • Curiosity vs. Malintent: Depending on the country you choose, people may be genuinely curious about your outward appearance. Being “Politically Correct” is not a global norm. People may ask you insensitive questions. Do you feel comfortable navigating these situations?
  • Support: Does your Education Abroad program have support staff who can assist in the event that a discriminatory incident occurs?
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    Featured Student

    Martha Flores-Vega studied abroad in Brazil through CIEE

    The experience was unforgettable. I learned more than I could ever learn in a classroom. I learned about history, language, culture, art, science, philosophy, etc. I was challenged to learn about myself and my surroundings. This experience has continuously impacted my everyday life, and I hope to impact other people's lives as well.

    -Martha Flores-Vega

    PSU Resources

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in going abroad as an Undocumented Student or Permanent Resident, please contact the Education Abroad Office.

    Disclaimer: The term "person of color" is connected to the history of racial relations within the United States, and not everyone may feel comfortable using it as a part of their self-identity. Even if you choose not to identify with this term, please feel free to use the resources on this page.