Preparing to Study Abroad
One of the more fascinating and perplexing issues for students abroad involves relationships and interactions between men and women. It is important to recognize how heavily cultural differences affect this dynamic of social exchange. Students should research gender roles in the culture where they will be studying by considering these questions: What is the history of gender relations within that culture? How are American women perceived there? How might your gender influence people's interactions with you? What disadvantages and privileges are associated with gender in the host culture?
While Living & Studying Abroad
Common American perceptions of appropriate male/female interaction may not correspond with the established patterns in other countries. This will become clearer to students as they begin making new friends and integrating into daily life abroad. Studying abroad gives students the opportunity to explore culturally-specific patterns of gender roles. While abroad, students should observe how gender interaction can provide deeper insight into the cultural values of the host country. It is important to learn what the expected dress codes are for women and the consequences of not following these codes. It is also important for students to think about these questions: Are there particular locations or activities in your host country that are considered unsafe for women? What are the social norms for romantic relationships? Students should speak with their Education Abroad advisor about such questions so they can assist in gathering the information needed prior to departure.
Bringing the Experience Home
Preparing for the return home is as important as preparing for departure. Students should think about what they have gained from this experience. What have you learned while abroad and how will you use the experience later on? Did study abroad allow you to pursue new research or have an internship? Compare these to the pre-departure goals. Are you interested in sharing your experience with others? Before returning to the US it is helpful to consider how changes in self-identity may affect relationships with family and friends back home.
Office for Institutional Diversity
311 Main Building