Gender is a socially defined characteristic that can impact your experience abroad.

The questions and considerations that students have around gender and study abroad may differ depending on their particular identities and destinations.

While some may be more aware or concerned about gender-based treatment in a foreign culture, all students are advised to inform themselves about sexual harassment, safety, and the gender-based societal expectations they may encounter in their host culture.  These expectations may include norms and laws around dating, friendships between individuals with different gender identities, and gender-based stereotypes of U.S. Americans.

Some students may have logistical questions or concerns as well.  For example, transgender students may wish to seek additional information on topics such as their rights when passing through airport security, whether their identity will conflict with the immigration regulations of their host country, and, if applicable, whether they will have access to the appropriate healthcare and medications while abroad.

Things to Consider Before Going Abroad

Adapted from Northwestern University’s “Identity Abroad: Gender

  • What is the attitude towards gender in my host country?
  • What are considered to be typical gender roles in my host society?
  • What are my host society’s perceptions of and expectations for cisgender, genderqueer, transgender, and other individuals?
  • What are the ways in which my host country’s language(s) have evolved to be more inclusive of different gender identities?
  • What are the gendered stereotypes of U.S. Americans in my host country?
  • Are there differences in political and social power based on gender in my host country?
  • How do my personal values compare with my host country’s attitudes about socially accepted gender roles?

Things to Consider While Abroad

Adapted from Diversity Abroad’s “Diversity & Inclusion Abroad Guide: Women Going Abroad

  • How do people with differing gender identities treat each other in my host culture?
  • What are the expectations of behavior based on gender?
  • What are the cultural norms regarding friendship and dating?
  • How do individuals with differing gender identities typically communicate (both verbally and non-verbally)? Are there cultural differences in communication and body language that I should be aware of?
  • How do individuals with non-privileged gender identities stay safe in my host city/host country?

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