Identity and Disclosure
In the United States, we tend to use different characteristics of our personalities, backgrounds, and/or physical selves to help us discern who we are as individuals, and to help us understand how we fit within the larger context of our culture and population. Many of us identify with several groups at once.
When preparing to immerse yourself in another culture, it is important to reflect on the different ways you identify as an individual. You may find that a majority identification in the United States is a rarity in your host culture. For instance, if your race is a huge identifying factor for you at home, you might be surprised to learn that while abroad, your nationality (U.S. citizen) could become much more important to those around you.
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 you in experiencing that host culture. For instance, will your African host culture find your vegetarian lifestyle offensive? If so, could you "shelve" it for the duration of your program? Likewise, U.S. students may want to wait and understand their host climates before disclosing political party beliefs and alignments.
For more information on specific identity issues and study abroad, please visit the following links:
Our office is committed to making your experience abroad a successful, enriching, and safe one. Please see us with any specific concerns.