Offset time at home during the pandemic by immersing yourself in a foreign culture. Enjoy these recommendations from the International Studies Program and its majors. Make your own recommendations here



Born a Crime

This autobiographical account of television host Trevor Noah’s youth in South Africa provides many laughs and also insights into the country’s apartheid and post-apartheid history. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

Children of Blood and Bone

Escape into this fantasy novel, which draws on West African mythology and Yoruba culture and is written by Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

Cry, the Beloved Country

In this novel, a South African minister receives a letter which sends him on a journey to reconnect with his long-lost sister and discover the struggles his family and the society in which he lives endure. Recommended by Nathan Rhude ‘22.

Facing Mount Kenya

An anthropological study of the  Kikuyu tribe of Kenya written by the country’s first president Jomo Kenyatta. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

Half of a Yellow Sun

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel weaves together the lives of three individuals caught up in the Biafran War in 1960s Nigeria. Recommended by Kelly McMann.


Tracing three hundred years of a family’s story, this novel begins with two half-sisters born in Ghana, one married off to an Englishman who remains in Ghana and one shipped to America as a slave. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

Nervous Conditions

In this semi-autobiographical novel, Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga examines race, colonialism, and gender through her story of a family in post-colonial Rhodesia. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.


The Art of War

The lessons from this book of Chinese military strategy and thought, written 2500 years ago, have been widely applied in contemporary politics and business. Recommended by Ryan Arvizu ’21.

The Good Earth

Enjoy this novel about the hardships and rise of a farming family in agrarian China. Recommended by Ryan Arvizu ’21.

The Silk Roads

A history of the growth and decline of empires in Asia and Asia’s rise in the contemporary era. Recommended by Ryan Arvizu ’21.

The Unwanted

This autobiography tells the story of a Vietnamese boy during the Vietnam War enabling readers to see the war from the perspective of Vietnamese citizens. Recommended by Kimberly Osbern ’21.


Don Quixote

In this classic, comic novel, a noble travels the world to restore chivalry and make his country proud. Recommended by Bobby Bruno ’21.

La Seine était rouge

This novel, The Seine Was Red in English, describes a forgotten event in French history during the Algerian War, in which the Paris police attacked and killed Algerian protesters and threw their bodies into the Seine. Recommended by Rachel Rider ’20.

Latin America and the Caribbean

El Amor en Los Tiempos del Colera

In this novel, Love in the Time of Cholera in English, an elderly man in Latin America declares his love again for a woman from his youth after being forbidden from marrying her and being apart 50 years. Recommended by Raphael Aleman ’22.

La Fiesta del Chivo

This novel, The Feast of the Goat in English, depicts the aftermath of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo’s assassination, immediately after in 1961 and 35 years later, through the eyes of a Dominican woman. Recommended by Raphael Aleman ’22.

Like Water for Chocolate

Set in Mexico, this novel tells the story of a young woman who is forbidden to marry but falls in love. Recommended by Fatima Rahman ’21.

Middle East and North Africa

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Written by the author of The Kite Runner and set in Afghanistan, this book follows the stories of Mariam, born “illegitimately” in the 1960s, and Laila, born into a wealthy family in the late 1970s, and how their lives intertwine. Recommended by Kimberly Osbern ’21.

The Kite Runner

This novel follows the lives of a wealthy boy and the son of one of the wealthy family’s servants as they grow up in Kabul. Recommended by Ryan Arvizu ’21.



Baby Mamas

This South African dramedy follows the lives of four coworkers experiencing different phases of motherhood. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.


A robot evolves to think and feel for itself in this South African thriller. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.

District 9

Aliens land in South Africa and are placed in a refugee camp in this science fiction thriller. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.

Kirikou and the Sorceress

This animated film tells the story of an unusual boy who tries to save his village from the influence of an evil sorceress. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.


Enjoy this comedy about a Nigerian woman who runs the family business in a male-dominated industry. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.


The Farewell

This true story of a Chinese-American family that returns to China to see their dying-grandmother who is unaware of her condition reveals the stark cultural differences between the Chinese Diaspora and Mainland Chinese. Recommended by Jason Guo ’21.

Farewell My Concubine

This movie tells the story of a Beijing opera performer in mid-twentieth century China. Recommended by Riley Jiang ’22.

The Last Emperor

This movie shows the life of the last emperor of China during dramatic transformations inside and outside the country. Recommended by Riley Jiang ’22.


A comedy, drama, and thriller, this film explores economic inequality in South Korea.  Parasite is the first foreign film to win the Best Motion Picture Academy Award. Recommended by Ryan Arvizu ’21.


In this film, four Indian women persist on a journey to empowerment despite the harsh expectations and tribulations of traditional village life. Recommended by Anna Koch ‘20.


This film by Alan Yang depicts the new life of a Taiwanese immigrant worker in the Bronx, New York. Recommended by Shanice Gitau ‘23.

Yi Yi

This movie, titled A One and a Two in English, portrays the lives of three generations of the Jian family in Taiwan. Recommended by Riley Jiang ’22.


Das Leben der Anderen
Set in East Berlin in 1984, the thriller The Lives of Others follows a secret police officer who becomes involved in the life of a playwright he spies on. Recommended by Kelly McMann.

Days of Glory

In this drama, four North African men enlist in the French Army to help liberate France from the Nazis. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.


Set in a small French town, this film follows a newly-married couple and the man’s descent into madness. Recommended by Kimberly Osbern ‘21.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Set in eighteenth century Brittany, this drama tells the story of a female painter who must complete a wedding portrait of a young women. Recommended by Ryan Arvizu ’21.

Latin America

Bajo La Misma Luna

Following the death of his mother a young boy travels illegally from Mexico to his mother in the U.S. in this film, titled in English Under the Same Moon. Recommended by Fatima Rahman ’21.


Finding cocaine packets on the beach in Ecuador, a man hatches a scheme to sell them encountering danger and love along the way. Recommended by Raphael Aleman ’22.

Middle East and North Africa

The Battle of Algiers

This award-winning drama documents Algerians’ fight for independence from France in the 1950s. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.


This film focuses on the lives of five Lebanese women dealing with issues of forbidden love, binding traditions, repressed sexuality, aging and duty versus desire. Recommended by Liz Hanna ’20.

Horses of God

This film offers a fictional portrayal of those responsible for the 2003 suicide bombings in Casablanca. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.


A thriller that depicts a brother and sister’s travel to the Middle East to understand their family history and carry out their mother’s last wishes. Recommended by Kelly McMann. 


A Muslim girl and a Jewish boy fall in love in this Moroccan romance. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

Mille Mois

A Moroccan mother tries to hide from her seven year-old son that his father was arrested for political reasons. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

The Square

A documentary examining the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.

Where Do We Go Now?

In a remote Lebanese village, Muslim and Christian women cleverly scheme to prevent their men from fighting. Recommended by Liz Hanna ’20.

TV Series



Enjoy this soap opera from Senegal. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.

Queen Sono

A clandestine government agent fights crime in contemporary South Africa. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.


Escape into this drama about the lives of young friends in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

Skinny Girl in Transit

This Nigerian comedy tells the story of a young woman trying to lose weight. Recommended by Zineb Benkirane ’21.

Wiri Wiri

This popular Sengalese TV comedy is full of love, betrayal and secrets. Recommended by Leo Ndiaye ’20.


A Bite of China

Enjoy this collection of documentaries about food culture in China. Recommended by Riley Jiang ’22.


In this thriller rumors that a king of the Korean Joseon dynasty is ill force the crown prince to battle a mysterious plague. Recommended by Antonio Morin ’22.

Tokyo Girl

A bit like Sex and the City, but set in Tokyo, this series portrays women in a big city during a period of change in women’s status in the society. Recommended by Changyi Wang ’20.

Shiroi Kyoto

This Japanese drama depicts the lives of doctors in a hospital. Recommended by Riley Jiang ’22.



Set in the small town of Winden, Germany, an investigation into the disappearance of a young boy reveals a tangled time-travel conspiracy. Recommended by Julia Ver Voort ‘20.

Pan’s Labyrinth

A dark fairy tale set right after the Spanish Civil War. Recommended by Ian Pallares ‘22.


Sherlock and Watson solve mysteries in modern day London. Recommended by Bobby Bruno ’21.

Latin America

Reina del Flow

Escape into this Colombian telenovela about an aspiring teenage singer who seeks revenge against those who plotted her imprisonment and harmed her family. Recommended by Fatima Rahman ’21.

Sin Senos no hay Paraiso

In this telenovela a young Colombian woman seeks breast enlargement in the hopes of attracting drug lords and living a life of luxury. Recommended by Fatima Rahman ’21.


Follow the drama and romance in the life of a greedy young Mexican woman in this telenovela. Recommended by Fatima Rahman ’21.

Middle East


This Israeli series follows the experiences of officers in the Israeli Defense Forces.  Recommended by Liz Hanna ’20.


A Palestinian drama that follows a young man’s difficult journey to marry the love of his life, the younger sister of his best friend. Recommended by Liz Hanna ‘20.

This list includes some books, films, and series that address disturbing themes. Readers and viewers are encouraged to carefully consider descriptions and reviews when selecting items.