What did you think of the different perspectives you have encountered regarding diversity issues in study abroad? In what ways have you experienced being the “other” or outsider? Or have you? Do you have any fears about studying abroad in terms of your race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other factors? How do you plan to address those concerns?
Since I hope to travel to very different places, my differences will shift depending on whether I am in the Netherlands, France, or Morocco. When I went to Uganda and Jamaica, I did stand out, but it didn’t bother me. And of course there’s no real way to hide the fact that I am American, no matter how well I do or do not speak the local language.
As part of this other-ness, comes the realization that I will not arrive with all the cultural knowledge necessary to behave appropriately in every situation. This could potentially be a cause of stress, since I tend to be a follow the rules and do what’s expected type of person. I get nervous when I’m not sure what is expected. My intuition will probably flounder in some unfamiliar settings.
Since the first place I want to go is the Netherlands, I’ll focus on that for now. Summer will be here before I know it. Thankfully, at least for the Netherlands, there are quite a few resources online that give a general idea of Dutch culture and manners. The ones that also had a page on American culture were pretty accurate, so they are presumably trustworthy. At least this concern has a partial solution that I enjoy very much – research. In fact, rather than a potential failure, the need to learn more about a culture to feel comfortable in it is an opportunity to grow and understand.