Student Experiences

The USP welcomes all kinds of students to embark on a transformative academic journey in Uganda. We recognize that each students’ experience may be slightly unique because it depends most significantly on the specific student’s approach, priorities, personality, etc. Following are some other characteristics that have had an effect on prior students’ experiences in specific ways and may affect your experience: 

Female Students

There are certain cultural differences that require just a bit of extra thought for women in terms of packing. On campus you will be required to wear skirts or dresses that reach the knees when walking/standing; modest tops that cover shoulders; at-least-to-the-ankle dress slacks; dress shoes/sandals. To get a visual idea of acceptable UCU wear, check out our Facebook album: What to Wear at USP. There will also be some training that we will provide to you during orientation about how to engage with Ugandans in a culturally appropriate way at your practicum, homestay, on campus, etc.  

Male Students

Uganda Christian University has more than 6,000 undergraduate students, with almost equal numbers of male and female students, providing broad opportunities for male USP students to interact with other male UCU students. However, the Uganda Studies Program group is most often predominately female, and sometimes there are as few as 1 or 2 male USP students.  Cultural differences in Uganda will also require you to dress in a different manner than you usually do when on campus at UCU. The dress code for men is typically belted, at-least-to-the-ankle dress slacks; collared shirts, dress shoes or closed-toed leather sandals.  To get a visual idea of acceptable UCU wear, check out our Facebook album: What to Wear at USP.  There will also be some training that we will provide to you during orientation about how to engage with Ugandans in a culturally appropriate way at your practicum, homestay, on campus, etc.  

Students of Color

Black Students

We intentionally focus here on the experience of Black students because the cultural exchange between Black students and African people, culture, and thoughts while studying abroad in Africa can be meaningful but uniquely complex. Read more on this below...

Non-Black Students of Color

USP has had students from a wide range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, including Asian, Latino/Latina, Arab, and Native. Depending on a number of factors, Ugandans may assume that students from one of these racial or ethnic backgrounds is White or Black or from one of the more common ethnic minorities in Uganda (e.g. South Asian, Chinese). Continue below...

Valuable Participation for All Students of Color

We want to make participation in USP as available and valuable as possible for all students of color.  We know that the experiences of students of color in Uganda are different than those of their White peers. While the racial and ethnic makeup will vary from semester to semester, USP enrollment is disproportionally White. This is not by design, and we are committed to doing better in recruiting students of color to USP and providing the support they need throughout their experience on USP. We believe that the voices of students of color are not only important but vital for the critical, self-reflective learning and growth we desire for all participants of USP.

Issues of race, power dynamics, economics and privilege are inevitably an explicit part of a program that brings North American college students to study in Uganda. These dynamics exist between our students and our Ugandan hosts, but they also exist within the group itself (which consists of a majority of White students). 

There are also unexpected ways that the context and realities here (in Uganda and with Ugandans) can lead to some Ugandans treating students of color, and particularly Black students, differently from the way they treat White students. Sometimes this can be positive, but it can also be negative. We are committed to exploring and understanding these realities, even as we do our best in assessing, developing, and employing a variety of ways to support our Black students and other students of color so that they have a positive and valuable semester in Uganda. Some of these things include:

  • Specific orientation for the Ugandan hosts who form the core relationships for any USP student, including UCU students, host families, and internship supervisors.
  • Specific engagement with interested Black students and other students of color regarding their unique experience and specific support that can help ensure a positive and valuable semester for them.
  • Intentionally creating opportunities for students of color to process ongoing realities they are experiencing.
  • Intentionally creating opportunities for White students to discuss their roles and responsibilities with Black students and students of color within and outside the classroom. This is also to help them understand how their experience with Ugandans might be different than their Black peers.
  • A commitment to discussing, addressing, and redressing dynamics of power in our classrooms and spaces of learning.

Support from Black Alumni and Other Alumni of Color:

We can connect Black students and other students of color with alumni so that current students can receive advice and encouragement as they move through the entire USP process from application to preparation, to the semester in Uganda, to re-entry.
  • At any point during the process (from applying to USP through retruning home afterwards), you can let the USP Director, Rachel Robinson, know of your interest in being connected with an alum of color that shares your particular background.


  • In an effort to make participation in Uganda Studies Program as available as possible for Black students, we encourage all Black applicants (members of the African diaspora) to complete the application or please email the USP Director, Rachel Robinson for specific scholarship opportunities.
  • For additional scholarship opportunities, see our Scholarship page.

White Students

For some White students, the experience of being a racial minority is new and takes some time to get used to. We will spend time in orientation and in the early weeks of the semester processing this experience. You will likely be called a “Muzungu” at times, which is a Swahili word that means meaning “someone who wanders around aimlessly.” In East Africa, it’s used to refer to a White or foreign person. Know that it’s not a derogatory term.

Non-Christian or Non-Believing Students

At the Uganda Studies Program, we embrace a Christ-centered perspective in education, which recognizes Christ as the creator, redeemer, restorer, and Lord of both the visible and invisible aspects of the world. Therefore, we approach academic disciplines such as health, social work, business, literature, history, and others as inherently created by God, for God's glory and the betterment of mankind. However, this perspective does not imply that we attempt to find Bible verses for every scientific problem, isolate ourselves from diverse ideas present in the world, or solely rely on texts written by Christians. Instead, it means that we firmly believe and teach that even in our imperfect world, all truth, goodness, and beauty found in any academic discipline or area of life are ultimately rooted in Christ. Our aim is to educate students from this perspective so that they can grow in their wonder and love for God while deepening their understanding of Christ's role in their life and vocation. You do not need to be a Christian to attend, but we want all students to clearly understand the context in which they will study and the foundations that guide the program inside and outside the classroom.
Uganda Studies Program at Uganda Christian University