Gender and Study Away

You already navigate issues around gender in your everyday life here on campus to varying degrees. However, you’re likely to be faced with different attitudes and societal norms regarding gender identity, gender expression, gender equality, and gender roles in your study away location. Therefore, it’s important to know what those are so you can better understand how your personal views, opinions, and expressions may be interpreted by people in your host culture.

“Traditional” gender roles are often found in binaries that inform how men and women are expected to act, dress, and even speak to others in the local context. Taking the time to educate yourself in these aspects, even beyond government-enforced policies, will increase your knowledge, which is important for your own personal safety as well as cultural learning.  

Observing and learning about different cultural norms can provide you some context to think critically about gender roles and gender inequality, and how your own beliefs compare or contrast with your study away experience.

It is also important to be aware of cultural norms around friendship, dating, and relationships. For example, in some places male-female friendships are not considered appropriate, and therefore you might be giving out implicit messages that you wouldn’t be sending by a similar friendship in your own cultural context. Also, public displays of affection are very common in some contexts, and very unacceptable in others. Evaluating societal differences when it comes to these relationships and modifying your behavior accordingly is part of learning and relating to another culture.

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