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My Ghanaian heritage is a large part of my identity and representing that is important to me. I longed to travel the world, expand my global perspective, and of course eat…everything.After struggling to find an academic purpose in my sophomore year, I intended to spend my semester abroad finding myself and discovering my passions.It was a little bit funny, a little shocking, but wild.Again, the representation of black women, or lack thereof played a large role in how I was treated.Nevertheless, I cast my fears aside and left for the UK with an open mind.Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I made in my college career.
Upon reflecting on my experience, it’s interesting to think about what my body represented in various European countries so close to each other.I poured over Instagram accounts, articles, videos, and travel blogs showcasing the beauty and merits of studying abroad.I looked up every link and resource that I received through IFSA-Butler and my home institution, but I struggled to really find anything specifically targeted towards women of color.In Switzerland, Black people are almost like mythical creatures, like a unicorn or leprechaun, where you only ever read about them or maybe saw one in a music video, but never in real life. Spanish people are familiar with Black women, they may even see them often, but often times, the only ones they ever see are sex workers.When the only experiences Spanish men have to reference when they see me, is a prostitute of a similar complexion they immediately come to hypersexualize and fetishize my body.