This article begins by quoting students in a seminar on intercultural education in a German University. Moving from the perception of student teachers that they should learn more about the cultures of foreign students, the article explores understandings of difference from three perspectives. Firstly, difference is used as a construct to describe distinctions – in the practice of education and connected empirical educational research. Secondly, difference is used as a labelling of contrasts – with contrasts examined within the discourse of international and intercultural educational science. Finally, difference is used to denote a mark of differentiation – for education in world society. These three explorations of difference provide routes into a framework for understanding global learning and for outlining consequences for teacher education and research.