The identities of students in the Black, African American, African, and Caribbean communities at Cal are varied and diverse. Black, African American, African, and Caribbean students have unique experiences traveling abroad depending on where you travel, what intersecting identities you hold, and so much more.
This page is meant to be a resource to help spark questions to consider, to help with understanding how to go about choosing a program that’s the right fit for you, to hear others’ experiences, and to serve as a jumping off point for your own research into what study abroad experience will be the right fit for you!
What kind of experience do I want to have?
Do I want an experience that allows me to understand more about my identities, my heritage, my racial or ethnic or other identities?
Is there a specific place I’ve always wanted to go?
Do I need to meet specific academic goals or desire to dive deep into a specific field of academic study?
Is my priority gaining skills towards career development?
Acknowledging Identity and Intersectionality
What are some common experiences that travelers holding the identities I hold have in the location I want to travel? How do I feel about navigating those kinds of situations?
Will I be able to find a community of others that hold similar identities to me where I am traveling? Is this important to me?
What systems of support do I have in my life that may be accessible abroad? (Regular phone check-ins with your people, mental health services, etc.)
In the case of intersecting identities like Queerness, is it safe to be out in the country I’m traveling to?
What in-country resources might there be to support students with my identities, if any? Are there any such resources available at my host institution?
Picking a program
Because of different but interconnected historical contexts, Race and Racism may operate very differently than how it operates in the US, and people in your host country may have different conceptions of race than those you are familiar with and may identify with. You may want to take some time to research and learn more about the specific places you are traveling to, and what life is like for Black communities in-country.
For many students being abroad, even with its challenges, is an overwhelmingly positive, life changing and world-expanding experience.
While studying abroad, it is likely to encounter microaggressions. This can range from Black students reporting being asked “Where are you really from?” when telling people they are from the US, to some students reporting not being seen as Black in certain places in Africa. Students may also experience microaggressions from other students in their Berkeley cohort. Note that when microaggressions occur from the local population in an abroad context, there may be underlying contexts that are not easy to see because of cultural or communication differences. Microaggressions can also arise from a place of ignorance due to narratives perpetuated globally (or lack of local exposure to a diversity of experiences), and can serve as an opportunity to facilitate more understanding. That said, these experiences have an impact on us, and it is your choice to decide how to best respond (or not respond) for your own empowerment and well-being. Here is a helpful guide exploring different frameworks to help decide when and how to respond to microaggressions.
One thing to keep in mind as well is to think about what support systems you may find in your host country. Support systems could look like community based organizations in the host country, program staff & faculty you feel comfortable reaching out to for support, or even connecting with other Black students on your program or in your host university. Berkeley Study Abroad South Korea Alum, Saman Wright, had this to share: “For me, when I was abroad in South Korea, the strongest support (when dealing with instances that had to do with my race) that I had while I was in Korea were other Black students in my program.”
Amanda Gorman Speaks about Studying Abroad (article + 3:30 min video)
Film from NPR about living while Black, in Japan (15:15 mins) TW: Audio overlay from the murder of George Floyd (00:20 - 00:38)
Studying abroad as a Black Student from Temple University (1:18:11)
Being Black Abroad Panel from UC Santa Cruz (57:49)
Will I fit in abroad? (17:27)
More Than Just Vikings and Pastries: My Dream That was Copenhagen, Denmark (UC Berkeley student article)
5 tips to incorporate your identity into the Study Abroad experience from a Cal student (UC Berkeley student article)
Black Community Resources, Programs, and Support Services (updated weekly to reflect events on campus, and contains links to resource guides and orgs curated by the staff at AASD)
Whether you are on a Berkeley Global Internship, Summer Abroad or UCEAP program, students will have access to mental health counseling while on their study abroad program.
Hotlines for mental health advising through Tang Center
Counseling after-hours support line: 855-817-5667
Travel guide for traveling with natural hair through IES (article + resources including packing lists and testimonials)
Top 10 Reasons for African Americans to Study Abroad (from Transitions Abroad)
Leave Them Woke in Your Wake: 9 Truths for Black Students Traveling Abroad (article including scholarships for Black students)
Blackbook: Blackbook University is a diversity, equity, and inclusion solution designed to empower Black students with tools that enable peer-to-peer connection, academic enrichment, and professional development.