Undergraduate Study Abroad

Identity, Diversity & Inclusion

Students abroad face a new cultural context that includes different historical and cultural understandings of diversity and inclusion around issues like race/ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and much more.

Customs, beliefs, laws, facilities, and social practices are likely different than in the U.S. Students are often concerned about how they will be perceived in their host country. Sometimes students have the experience of being in the minority for the first time. Others are concerned that their race, sexual orientation, language, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. will impact their experience. 

Before you depart, think about what it is going to be like to be "you" abroad, the various ways you might identify yourself, and how these identities define you in the U.S. These definitions might change in your host country, and you may encounter stereotypes, questions, and curiosity surrounding your identities. Think about your expectations versus what the reality might be abroad, and be prepared if your experiences lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, and fatigue. However, while you may face challenges, remember that being in a new cultural context is a wonderful opportunity for change and growth — and it will provide you with a new perspective on the structure of different societies. As you navigate reflections around identity, you are not alone. The Brown study abroad advising team, fellow students, and on-site staff are great resources to help you process your experience abroad.

Things You Can do to Prepare

  • Read about the host country’s history, culture, laws, and demographics. If reading news articles, commentaries, or blogs, consider the lens through which the information was written
  • Reach out to students who have studied abroad in your host country who may share identities you’re thinking about(the study abroad advising team can provide names of former study abroad students)
  • Make use of online resources, (even social media which may be less "filtered" than news sources in some countries, or may include current events/stories that aren't "news-worthy") that offer advice, personal narratives, and other information


The Office strives to serve as a critical leader, resource and support in the development, implementation, assessment and accountability for effective practices and policies to promote and sustain more inclusive learning and working environments at all levels at Brown.
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Provides tips on how to best prepare for studying abroad; includes advice, scholarship information, student testimonials, and more.
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Institute for Study Abroad's articles and commentary, mainly from a student perspective, about studying abroad and issues of diversity, including faith communities,  first generation, LGBTQ+, racial and ethnicity, and students with special needs.
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Additional Information

No matter where you study, you may experience a shift in the ways gender identities, roles, and norms are perceived than you’re used to at home.
How racial and ethnic identities are defined and understood vary by culture.
Religion and culture are intertwined in many countries around the world, and studying abroad provides a unique opportunity to learn about world religions and the role they play in different cultures.