Cultural assumptions, beliefs, and practices can result in well-defined gender role expectations within a given location. Gender roles in one country, city, or region may differ substantially from those found in another. While on your program, you may choose to behave or express yourself differently than the gender roles defined by your host culture. However, it is still important to educate yourself about gender roles within your host location in order to make informed choices about how you will act and present yourself, and to better understand how your personal views, opinions, and actions may be interpreted by your host culture.
Before and during your program, you should:
- Research your study away location and local culture to better understand cultural norms (including gender issues), appropriate dress, communication styles, and conceptions of personal space.
- Learn the unwritten rules of your host culture during the early stages of your study away program. Past program participants suggest getting together with fellow students to discuss what does and does not work in regards to dealing with gender-specific, unwanted attention.
- Take cues from locals. Look at how they dress and interact with strangers. Although you may want to express your own individuality while on your program, keep in mind that the way you dress may attract unwanted attention.