Heritage students participate in study abroad to spend time in a country where they are familiar with the culture, religion, or language. Some grew up speaking Japanese in the home and so wish to spend time in Japan. Others practice Islam and seek an experience abroad in a Muslim country. Heritage students are unique in that they are not necessarily seeking out the unknown, but rather a host country where they expect to be accepted.
Things to Consider As You Prepare to Study Abroad:
- Expect some culture shock even if you do not experience it to the extremes or depths that other students experience.
- Some heritage students are surprised when they do not blend into the host culture as expected. Anticipate that you might be viewed as “American” first and not whatever other identity you had hoped.
- On the other hand, you might blend in well. People might ask you for directions in a foreign language you do not speak expecting that you are a local.
- Understand the history of immigration from the people in your host country to the United States. Why did people leave? What is peoples' perception of those who left?