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Gender identities abroad

It’s important to research your host country’s cultural behaviors towards gender, laws and customs, and expected social behavior. All students should also be aware of gender relations in the host country, including norms around eye contact, communication, and appropriate social approaches. You are the only one who can accurately judge your own risk tolerance and make decisions about when to conform to local attitudes more freely, but make sure to put your safety first in every situation. Dressing and acting like local residents can help you avoid unwanted attention. Keep in mind that oftentimes, local religious practice intersects with gender roles to inform the way that people are expected to present or behave.

Additional Resources

Make sure you know what your rights are, and consult resources like Diversity Abroad’s Women Abroad page and the State Department’s Information for Women Travelers to prepare for your journey.

The University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) offers support for survivors of sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. SAPAC offers a 24-hour crisis line (734-936-3333) for anyone in need of support or counseling, and you can call this line from abroad.

Explore Perspectives by Country

For most students, study abroad is an amazing, sometimes even life-changing experience. CGIS has prepared in-progress documents intended to provide identity-related background information and context from news sources and other resources. These documents are a springboard for your own research: they might prepare you for some of the specific dynamics that you may experience in several countries that are the most popular with CGIS students (Australia, China, Costa Rica, France, Israel and Palestine, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom) but these documents are only a starting point, by no means an absolute or exhaustive list.

Even though you might be a minority based on your nationality in your host country, you may also receive additional attention for your additional identities, including race and ethnicity, which may or may not be discrimination. You might feel judgment from people based on your gender, sexual orientation, race and ethnicity, disability, or religion, and your unique identities interact and intersect with one another to affect your experience. Remember that nowhere in the world is completely free of ignorance. No matter what happens, don’t let the possibility of discrimination keep you from experiencing and enjoying the life-changing opportunity to study abroad.

Keep in mind that although these excerpts and anecdotes might ring true for some, every identity and experience is unique, and you will have your own, specific experience abroad. These are living documents, and we encourage you to contact us at spauling@umich.edu or nestore@umich.edu if you would like to add your own experiences, input, or other resources to the list, for these or other countries.

Click here for our in-progress compilation of excerpts and anecdotes to start your own research!