I feel as if I floated here on dreams that I had as a poor child growing up in Fresno wanting more than just an ordinary life. I can not believe that I am going to Greece! As a nontraditional veteran and disabled student, I have more challenges than others and I often shrink myself into the background not to be noticed, I just want to blend in. I do not want to feel stupid, or for people to notice that I have a limp, or that sometimes I may need my cane to walk. This will be my 5th study abroad experience and I remember at times being unable to speak by the profound beauty that was before me. I felt like a different person after seeing these wonders of the world, I felt SPECIAL. I know that Greece will be no different. Studying abroad has helped me realize my dreams. I hope to blog about my experience in Greece as a disabled African American woman and explore difficult topics that many don’t like to talk about.
When I study abroad I am usually, if not the only, 1 of 2 African American students studying. There are usually many preconceived notions about my race in the country that I am visiting even with the other students in the program. So when I study abroad, one of the questions that I immediately have to ask is, How are black people treated in this country? Women? Disabled? American? These are questions that I worry about because it changes things for me. I might not put that outfit in my bag, I might act differently when I am out. There might be danger for the statuses that intersect in my life. For instance when I was in India, I experienced a lot of colorism. India was colonized by the British for many years and it left them with a white is powerful mentality. There is a over a billion dollar skin whitening industry in India. I was not the idea of beauty because of my brown skin and it was hard for me to be waited on last and skipped for one of the other white students.
When I did an immediate search on the race relations in Greece they were actually quite scary. I still decided to come as my wanderlust overpowered the fear of people being indifferent to my color. My goal for the summer is to represent myself, my school and the ISA program, my race, my culture, my disability and change some perceptions about people like me. If I can change one persons wrong perception it would be a win in my book.
Some tips I have for before travel:
- Bring a portable lockbox! It is where I keep my important paperwork and money. I got mine off of amazon.
- Don’t forget your school supplies.
The countdown to Greece starts now!
Crystal Miller is a student at Kansas State University. She is an ISA Featured Photo Blogger and is studying abroad with ISA in Athens, Greece.