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Native American Travelers

Racial and ethnic identities vary widely among different cultures and regions. When studying abroad, you may assume a new identity as determined by the cultural norms of your destination. Identities and how they are understood can be influenced by historical events and processes. Therefore, you may be identified as an American, rather than a Native American or indigenous person in some places. Similarly, you may join a different minority group or the region’s ethnic majority. Especially in areas that do not receive many study abroad students or are not ethnically diverse, people may be curious about your identity. Unfortunately, the way some people express curiosity can be offensive. This may include stares or people trying to touch your skin or hair. People may also be insensitive when asking questions about your cultural heritage, national identity, or physical appearance. Although they may have good intentions, their actions may not always reflect their genuine interest.

Wherever you study abroad, it is important to be aware of the political, historical, and cultural aspects of society that could influence your experience. The CIA Factbook offers country summaries, including demographic statistics under the People and Society section. Retuning study abroad students are also a great resource for additional insight and perspective. Our office may be able to connect you with a returning student of a similar racial or ethnic background. Additionally, we encourage students to form a new support network while overseas. Joining cultural student organizations or local community groups can help provide students with a sense of familiarity and inclusion while in a completely foreign location.