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Diversity and Identity

International Gender Roles

Tori Miller visits EnglandYou will find that gender politics in the United States are unique and often different from countries around the world. It is extremely important to research your host culture’s attitudes on gender roles.

The greatest challenge for U.S. female students abroad is discovering how different other countries’ gender roles can be and their perceptions of female college students. At times, behavior and actions that would be acceptable in the United States might be, at the very least, misinterpreted and at the most, dangerous. Male students should also be aware of their behavior abroad and understand how it may  be interpreted. You should ask yourself, "Is it culturally appropriate for me to be alone with a person of the opposite sex?" or "Could my body language or actions be misinterpreted?"

A good resource on these and many issues is the Diversity Guide to Study Abroad.

Racial Diversity

Cultural and racial diversity are significant factors for students in choosing an education abroad program.

Attitudes toward race differ widely across the globe, and reactions to racial differences can range from tolerance to intolerance, from acceptance to discrimination.

Stereotypes about race exist in all cultures and can sometimes lead to prejudice, discrimination or harassment.

What should you do if you experience prejudice while abroad?

  • Being intellectually prepared to help you to cope with prejudice or discrimination.
  • Don’t take it personally. Racism is not directed at you personally but to a generalized perception or stereotype about the group to which you belong.
  • Understand that racism is an irrational reaction. Once people get to know you, their prejudice may disappear.
  • Take the initiative to educate others about your own ethnic background. Acknowledging racial differences can be an opportunity to help others understand these differences.

If you encounter race issues or find yourself in racially tense situations while traveling abroad, feel free to talk with your resident director, in-country contact or another member of your group.

Review the Racial & Ethnic Minority Students Abroad resource prior to traveling. 

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Studying abroad can be a great time for self-exploration and individual growth. Should you identify yourself as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex it is very important to research your host country’s attitudes,  laws and related crime rates prior to your departure.

Many students struggle with the concept of being “out” when abroad while being true to their own identity. It is important to remember that a person’s safety always comes first. Additional resources include:

  • Talk to your education abroad coordinator to get some background information about the country and past participant
  • Students can discuss their feelings and concerns with their resident director or in-country contact
  • Visit the Office of Student Life's Multicultural Center for resources and information, located in Suite 1000 of the Ohio Union.

Review the LGBTQ+ Students Abroad resource prior to traveling.