Imposter syndrome is something that I’ve dealt with my entire life as a black girl interested in stem. This dark cloud that isolated me from everyone, followed me throughout middle school, high school, and even now in college. I was fortunate for the efforts that Bates applied towards equity and inclusion; however, as one of the two black individuals in my organic chemistry class last semester, I couldn’t help but wonder what this support looked like. Through my time here at Bates, I’ve witnessed many peers of color drop their majors in STEM because they do not feel supported in one way or another. Although I love my studies as a biochemistry and sociology major on the premed track, at times I found it discouraging that I was not represented in the stem department and constantly felt excluded. Despite this burden, I was determined to pursue my passion in STEM and nurtured relationships with trusted staff and students that relate to my struggles and empower me to push past the stereotypes and imposter syndrome.
Prior to my journey abroad, diversity was a large subject that brought fear to me. Due to the harsh realities of the predominantly white spaces that I’ve learned to navigate, I was afraid that Sweden would feel a lot like this in many ways. Some of the preconceived notions I had before I reached Sweden was that most of the locals would be “white with blond hair” and I also assumed that the group of students studying abroad in my program were going to be predominantly white because most students of color from my home institution did not study abroad. As expected, when I landed in Sweden most of the individuals were of white complexion; however, to make matters worse people were not speaking English and this reality isolated me from my surroundings. I felt welcomed by my host family; however, it was odd outside the house because I was the only black girl in most of my classes and this began to feel like a space I did not belong in.
It was about the second week of classes when someone asked me about the diversity club and I was instantly determined to find more information about this intriguing association. After attending the first meeting, the diversity club at DIS instantly became one of my favorite events to look forward to for the every other week meetups. Through this club, I was given a safe space where I could express myself to others that had similar experiences. Diversity club reassured me of my presence in my abroad program and I felt at home in the areas that I had previously felt excluded from. I was able to meet a lot of new people and this is where I even met the closest friend that I traveled with and hung around on and off campus. Having a club such as diversity club can seem so little and maybe meaningless to those that have the privilege to rome without that burden and weight that their identity unconsciously cast on them, however this club was one of the best discoveries that enlightened my overall abroad experiences and gave me the confidence to explore more of my surroundings.
Despite my rough past experiences, this has taught me to make space in every situation I am placed in. As a black female student studying abroad in Sweden, I know that I have the skills necessary to be successful in any challenge that I face regardless of location. Luckily my preconceived notions of Sweden were incorrect and I found a few local friends and met so many other students of color. The warmth of the diversity club and my optimistic approach to life allows me to be open-minded in every situation and this is an ability that enables me to open many doors without hesitation. From being new in Sweden to my struggles with imposter syndrome, persistence has led me to accomplish my goals that were unattainable before.
We’ll chat soon,