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Gender & Women’s Topics

 Adjusting to a new culture and potentially unfamiliar gender roles can present travelers with a variety of reactions and feelings. Some locations may be more challenging to adjust to than others due to the gender norms and mores of its given culture. Like other social identities, gender and one’s experience with their gender can be affected by cultural norms and attitudes. Interactions between people will differ from culture to culture and some places may have a more marked segregation between men and women than many are used to in the U.S. Additionally, in some countries, locals may more openly initiate unwanted comments, attention or behavior towards travelers.  

 As you prepare for studying abroad, we are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point. Your research starts here. Read through these resources, talk with past program participants and chat with your Program Manager to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. See also the Health and Safety section of our site.

  • Find examples of women from your host country (through research online, articles, videos, etc.) and observe how they dress and interact with other genders in their society.
  • Use some of the resources below to learn more about gender roles and norms in your host country. Body language, clothing, and even smiling at strangers can send different cultural signals that may not be understood in the same way they are at home. For example, in some countries “Western-style” clothing is considered inappropriate, but in other countries it is perfectly acceptable.
  • If applicable, research contraception and women’s reproductive healthcare options in your host country. For example, if you take birth control, note that the availability of oral contraception varies considerably by country and will almost always require an in-country prescription, so it is better to make sure that you have enough to last the full duration of your stay and some extra just in case you lose any pills. However, like other types of prescriptions, be sure to check the laws in your host country about whether or not you can bring it into the country when you first arrive.
  • Make sure to check what sort of feminine products are available in the country you are traveling to. For example, tampons are not as frequently used outside of the United States/Canada, and they may not be available in some places, or may only be available without applicators. Do some research beforehand and if there is a product you prefer that will not be available in your host country, consider bringing it with you.
  • When it comes to personal safety practices, it’s important to know what items you can and cannot have on your person in certain countries. For example, pepper spray is considered to be an illegal weapon in the United Kingdom.

  • Advice from Alumni: Women Abroad
    • We invited some of our well-travelled alumnae to share their experiences abroad as women. From calming their parents' fears, adjusting to their host country, and packing tips, our alumnae share all. -ISA International Studies Abroad 
CU Resources: 
In addition to the resources and topics shared on this webpage, women who are transgender may have additional considerations for their time abroad. Information and more resources for this population can be found on the LGBTQ+ student section.
We look forward to meeting with you to discuss your goals and plans. See the Get Started for your next steps!
Last Updated January 2023