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It is important to recognize that gender roles and identity are socially constructed ideas that are unique to each location and/or culture. The differences in gender roles and identities between cultures span from minor and unnoticeable to life-altering. It is important to reflect on your native culture’s views on the subject to get a sense of where your own thoughts on the subject may originate.
We encourage all students to do research into social norms and cultural practices of the host location prior to your global education experience. There are several on-campus resources available to help you understand how gender issues may be experienced and understood differently depending on location. For example, female students may want to talk with other women who have studied in the host location or culture. This is a great starting point for learning more about what to expect in a given location. Students may also find that there are significant differences in the norms of dress, behavior, and interpersonal relationships between their own culture and the host culture. Research in advance and observe on site.
It is important that you always prioritize your own safety. Differing cultural norms may make harassment either more prevalent or harder to identify. Cultural sensitivity does not mean that you must tolerate behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe but know that this may happen.
We recommend that you follow common-sense safety precautions such as traveling in pairs or groups, dressing in a culturally appropriate manner, and educating yourself about sexual harassment in your host location. Familiarize yourself with emergency protocols and listen to your instincts.

Consider the following before you go:

  • At night, travel in groups and never walk alone.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when they can expect you to return.
  • Use caution when choosing to drink alcohol and avoid all illicit drugs.
  • Learn basic phrases in the local language.
  • Women: Talk with local women about how to deflect unwanted attention, where possible.
  • Pay attention to dressing in a culturally appropriate way that will not draw unwanted attention.
  • While on location, will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services relating to physical transition and medical needs? Will I need additional documentation to travel with these items?