You are admitted as a black student to the foreign study program of your choice! If you are ready for a semester or a year full of adventures and the chance to experience a new culture, you can have some common thoughts that cross the spirit of each student: what should I pack? How much money do I have to budget? Will there be wifi?
As an African-American student studying abroad, your questions will go beyond the frequently asked questions about school or programs. But before you go crazy, relax, you’ve come to the right place.
While a majority of school programs organize a series of information sessions where you should go, not all bases are covered. Here are eight study abroad tips to know before you go and what you can expect when you are there.
You have to get to know your new home.
Do your homework and research aspects of the culture and customs of the country you are going to visit. You should also start learning and remembering essential sentences in the native language. Although you do not have to be fluent, you can earn lovely local friends with your attempt. It is also useful to look up the past and present attitude of the country about racing so that you are not completely in the dark about what to expect if you do not expect anything at all.
A semester or a year abroad is still far away, but that does not mean you have to take everything with you Try to try to block your parents’ voices by using hypothetical scenarios make you bring things you do not need, pack your clothes efficiently, which means you can wear versatile and comfortable tops and pants and a pair of shoes that you can wear with multiple outfits. Bag for all the cool trinkets you get on the way, you’ll be much less focused on the things you wore than the things you took with you on your journey.
Sometimes people are weird.
As an African-American traveler, you are one of the few and your presence will certainly attract attention. In some countries, looks and questions about photographs are the way some residents express their curiosity to you. You are told that you look like every black celebrity that you can imagine. Others can approach you with “compliments” that you find offensive. Despite how strange these encounters may be, take the opportunity to turn them into positive cultural exchanges. Imagine the position of cultural ambassador and wake them up in your wake.
As a result of stereotypes and the spread of Western culture, the image of African-Americans can be disturbed. Unfortunately (like, REAL unfortunately …) there will be people who will not like you because you are yourself and you will behave rudely. Do not let one acid interaction ruin your trip or the perception of the country you study in. Do not go into things that think people are against you – sometimes you just have to shake it off. Stay open to culture and people will embrace you no matter what you look like.
You can use your loneliness as an instrument of empowerment.
Whether you feel isolation from your cohort or grief of being the only person who looks like you, know that you are entitled to your feelings. As a minority at home and abroad, it can be mentally exhausting to constantly examine yourself in the light of others. Instead of getting stuck in this pattern, use these moments to be reflective and empowerment experiences. Your identity as an African-American is worth celebrating and being proud of.
You have to say yes more.
When black people travel, there seems to be an unspoken rule about what activities “we do” or “do not do” when we go abroad. But the truth is that we can do everything we want! Burst the myth about traveling from Afro-Americans by saying yes everywhere. No real explorer has discovered something without going to the unknown. Take this opportunity to take risks and have fun. Your memory will thank you for it!
There is power in the people.
Although Western culture has spread worldwide, the black culture is not a monolith. Despite the lack of representation in some regions, African culture covers the whole world. Grab the opportunity while you are abroad to study history and see the sights related to this (if there are any). Use social media and online groups to meet and network with other Black travelers, locals and fellow Black students abroad from other colleges if your time permits. You can do this by searching on popular Instagram hashtags like #blacktravel, #blackandabroad, #blackgirlstraveltoo and more. If you place yourself outside of it, you can give your experience a complete overview and help you to experience adventures outside your itinerary. While you are one of the few, you are not the only one.
Document everything and you will become an inspiration for future black student travelers
Take photos, videos or save a diary to document everything that happens during your trip. Keep track of your experiences, not only for yourself, but also for your return. Become a new voice for future and future black students who choose to study abroad. Make a fun project for yourself and create your own African-American travel guide for the country you are traveling to. The final product can be useful for other black students after you. See your experiences as a form of activism and use your new status as a Black Traveler to strengthen your community and suggest ways in which your university can close the gap on diversity in their programs.
The travel experience is different for everyone based on our backgrounds, our economic status, our race, our nationality and much more. Some things that you will experience are beyond your control. But when weighing up advantages and disadvantages, the positive outcomes weigh heavier than any negatives.
Whether you’re on the road for your first trip or want to follow a study abroad as a black student, the purpose of this comprehensive black travel guide is to empower you and to believe that black students also travel. It is a beautiful world that is there, go now and discover it.