Identity & Diversity Abroad

The WWU Education Abroad office encourages all students to consider studying abroad and is committed to inclusion and equity in our various program options. Studying abroad can present students with rewarding lifelong experiences that can challenge perceptions on identity. We tend to define ourselves based using different features of our personalities, backgrounds and physical appearances, often identifying with several groups to distinguish who we are.

As you explore your study abroad options, you will want to consider aspects of your identity and how these may be perceived and treated in the cultures you are spending time in. How you identify yourself in the U.S. may not be how you are identified abroad. As a student on a study abroad experience, you may first be identified as a U.S. American by people in your host country which may be different than how you identify yourself in the U.S.

We encourage students to think about the parts that make up their identity (e.g. sister, student, Asian American, Jewish, queer, etc.). Parts of your identity may be more easily observed by others (such as gender, skin color, age, etc.) while other parts of your identity are less observable, such as sister. How will you talk (or not talk) about those parts of your identity with people in the host country? To decide what is important to disclose to your host community, you may want to think about what parts of your identity might create barriers for your experience in the host culture. The host community socio-cultural context may present some challenges or rewards, but being knowledgeable beforehand equips you with the ability to better adjust in your new environment.

Please use these resources as you prepare for your international education experience.