Everyone brings their personal identity and background to their study abroad experience. Your unique identity will present opportunities and challenges as you prepare for your program, engage in experiences abroad, and reflect after your return.
What are your identities?
We encourage you to think about the parts that make up your identity (e.g., Asian American, biracial, Jewish, first generation college student, non-binary, etc.). Some aspects of your identity may be more easily observed by others (e.g., sex, skin color, age, etc.) while other parts are less observable (e.g, gender, citizenship, health/wellbeing, etc.). While you are thinking about your experience, it is important to ask yourself:
- How will you want to talk (or not talk) about parts of your identity with people in the host country?
- How will you react if someone comments on a part of your identity in a way that offends you?
- How might your identity change while you are abroad?
How you identify yourself in the United States may differ from how people will view you abroad. People in your host country might first identify you by your nationality or make assumptions based on their previous impressions of Americans or study abroad students. People might also assume you have a high level of wealth and privilege, simply because you were able to travel, even though you may be supporting yourself financially with jobs and student loans.
We have created a variety of identity pages to get you thinking about your upcoming study abroad experience. We also recognize that social identities are diverse and intersectional, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for, please contact us for assistance! The University of Wisconsin-Madison is an institutional member of the Diversity Abroad Network. Students can also create a free Diversity Abroad account and begin exploring.