Studying Abroad: A Black Woman’s Guide to Unlocking the World

Studying Abroad: A Black Woman’s Guide to Unlocking the World

Studying Abroad for Black Women

My biggest personal regret was never studying abroad. I made up for it by teaching abroad in Abu Dhabi but it wasn’t until I was working on Adriana K. Smith’s Studying Abroad for Black Women guide for our Travel Guide collection did I realize what it truly was that held me back…


Up until my junior year of college, I had only left the country to visit family Trinidad. As much as I wanted to see the rest of the world, I simply did not know what to expect. Study Abroad was not a big conversation among the Black students at The George Washington University, so I ignored the interest.

It wasn’t until my former roommate, a Black girl from Brooklyn, decided to spend a semester in Florence, Italy that I realized I was missing out. I flew to Florence to visit her for Spring Break and was blown away. We traveled through Italy and the travel bug damn near gnawed my arm off. All I could think on the flight back home was… there’s a whole world out there and I want to see it. I wished I knew what to expect sooner.

The World Is Your Oyster

When you’re a Black woman thinking about studying abroad, it might feel like stepping into unknown territory and that can be daunting.

There’s the worry about standing out too much, dealing with stereotypes, or even just finding hair products that work for us. This is where Adriana Smith’s, Studying Abroad for Black Women, becomes the real MVP. She doesn’t just share the glossy parts of studying abroad; she gets real about the challenges and how to work through them.

Studying Abroad for Black Women
Smith, Adriana K.

One thing Smith emphasizes is the sheer opportunity of it all. Studying abroad isn’t just about snagging cool pics for the ‘Gram (though, let’s be honest, that can be a perk). It’s about expanding your worldview, understanding different cultures, and getting a global perspective on your field of study.

These experiences make you a well-rounded individual, pushing you beyond your comfort zone and preparing you for success in an increasingly globalized world.

“Why do you want to go all the way out there?”

For many of us, especially first-gen college students, our families might not immediately get the “why” behind wanting to jet off to a foreign land for studies.

They will worry and that’s ok!

Their concerns often stem from love and the unfamiliarity with studying abroad, especially if you’re among the first in your family to go to college.

This is where having open conversations comes in. Share the benefits, not just for your personal growth but also for your future success. Explain how being globally aware can set you apart in the job market. Break it down with pointers from Adriana Smith’s book, showing them the security measures and support systems in place for students abroad.

It’s about reassuring them (and sometimes yourself) that this opportunity is a step towards being a more accomplished, independent, and well-rounded individual.

Finding Your Tribe

feet in a circle

One of the gems in Smith’s guide is the emphasis on community. Whether it’s connecting with other Black women or finding local communities in your host country, there’s strength in numbers. These networks can be a source of support, advice, and even a makeshift family away from home. They get the unique challenges you might face as a Black woman abroad and can offer real-time solutions and comfort.

The Glow-Up Is Real

Let’s not overlook the personal growth that comes with studying abroad. It’s more than academic excellence; it’s about the life skills you acquire. Negotiating in another language, navigating new cities, and adapting to different educational systems are just the tip of the iceberg. These experiences build resilience, confidence, and a sense of independence. Your ability to problem solve while others are stuck will surprise you! You’ll come back with stories that are uniquely yours… insights that broaden your perspectives… and a new-found confidence that screams, “I got this!”

Traveling Black Women Tee

Wrapping It Up

In essence, studying abroad is an unparalleled adventure that offers more than just academic credits. It’s about personal development, cultural exchange, and opening doors to global opportunities. Adriana Smith’s “Studying Abroad for Black Women” is not just a travel guide; it’s a lifeline, offering practical advice, heartfelt stories, and a roadmap to navigating the complexities of studying abroad as a Black woman.

So, to my fellow Black women considering this journey, remember: you’re capable, you’re deserving, and the world is waiting for you!

Let’s embrace this opportunity for growth, exposure, and success. The journey might seem daunting, but trust, it’s worth every step.

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