Loyola University Chicago

Study Abroad

Heritage Seekers

Introduction

For many students, study abroad provides the opportunity to connect with their ancestral history and culture in an up close and personal way. The Institute of International Education calls these students “heritage seekers” as a way of understanding students’ desire to study abroad "not because it is unfamiliar and new, but rather because it is somewhat familiar." Students might meet up with relatives, learn the language of their ancestors, or simply learn more about the cultural aspects of the country.

While heritage seeking is an exciting journey, it can also be quite an emotional one. Consider the following questions and tips* when planning your study abroad experience.

Questions:

  • How will I be perceived in my home country?
  • Will I be accepted in my home country?
  • How should I react if I find something to be offensive?
  • Am I used to being part of the minority at home? How will it be to be a part of the majority abroad?
  • Will there be other heritage students in my program?

Tips:

  • Remember although there is an ethnic affiliation between you and the people in your home country, there are many cultural differences and you might not be accepted as one of their own.
  • Research the customs and culture of your home country. There might be great differences between what you think you know about the home country based on how you were raised and what it is actually like. To this end, have an open mind about your home country in an effort to avoid unrealistic expectations.
  • Be aware that people may generalize or incorrectly identify your ethnicity. Additionally, you may be identified as American and an outsider rather than a part of the host country.
  • Learn more about other heritage students’ experiences abroad. For example, you can talk to other heritage students who have studied abroad or find information online.

Campus Resources

  • Your LUC Study Abroad Advisor: Can help you find more information about the country you plan to go to and connect you with LUC peers who have studied in that country before. Additionally, program evaluations available in the office are a good way to learn what former students have to say about your host country and what you may encounter abroad.
  • Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs: Facilitates intentional reflection of the intersections of identities and critical social analysis of systems of privilege and oppression, SDMA seeks to enhance the experience of all members of the Loyola community by cultivating culturally competent agents of social change.

External resources

Programs of Interest

Loyola offers more than 150 programs in 70 programs across the world, a full list of programs and locations is available here.

 

*Source: Diversity Abroad