Diversity and Identity Abroad First-Generation Students

If you are the first person in your family to go to college, it may be daunting to consider being the first person in your family to study abroad. However, there are many benefits of a global experience that can enhance your personal, academic, and professional trajectories.  

Navigating the unfamiliar is no easy task for anyone. You may have never seriously considered going abroad until now. You may find that the unknown is overwhelming -- from figuring out if you can afford the opportunity, working through passport and visa requirements, anticipating how families and friends at home might feel about you being abroad, and/or feeling concerned about how to actually live in foreign country -- all of these feelings are valid and need to be addressed.  

Be sure to speak with mentors, administrators, friends, and previous participants who have participated in study abroad to help assuage some of the concerns you might have. Talk honestly and directly with your family about your desire to go abroad as you prepare for the experience. Become informed about the country you are planning to be abroad in, research estimated costs, plan your spending budget, and set clear communication expectations with family and friends.  

Know that you have the support of Penn and your Global Programs Manager at Penn Abroad if you ever need to discuss an unfamiliar topic. If your family has questions, please refer them to our dedicated For Families website.

Questions to Consider

  • How can I speak with family about my desire to study abroad and involve them in my planning?  
  • How can I make study abroad more affordable?  
  • Who on Penn’s campus can I seek support from?  
  • How will I describe (or not describe) my first-generation identity with people in the host country? 
  • What will I do to remain in contact with friends and family while abroad?  

Resources

Penn’s Albert M. Greenfield Intercultural Center 

University of Pennsylvania College Achievement Program 

DiversityAbroad’s Diversity and Inclusion Abroad Guide: First Generation Students 

AllAbroad.us 

I’m First: How to Figure Out Study Abroad as a First-Gen College Student 

UC Santa Cruz Study Abroad - First Generation Students