Women Abroad

Diversity and Identity

Women Abroad

Women in bright scarves

Studying abroad is an eye-opening experience, and perhaps even more so for women travelers. Cultures around the world vary greatly in terms of gender roles and cultural norms. Many women throughout the world lead very different lives than American women. In order to have a safe and successful time abroad, it is important to be aware of these cultural differences.

Things to Consider

  • Different Gender Roles & Cultural Norms: We recommend doing your research on the gender roles in your host country before arrival. Body language, clothing, and even smiling at strangers can suggest sexual interest in some cultures. Once you do arrive, observe how men and women interact to learn what is considered appropriate behavior.
  • Stereotypes of American Women: In some countries, American women are considered “easy”. In order to avoid any unwanted attention, we recommend dressing and acting like the local women of your host country. Getting to know local women can be very helpful!
  • Staying Safe: Sexual assault can happen anywhere in the world, through no fault of the traveler. You can minimize risk by taking certain precautions. While you’re abroad, it is important to be aware of your surroundings. Avoid looking lost or vulnerable by knowing where you’re going ahead of time, and how to get there and back. Never leave your drinks unattended, and make sure you know the local emergency numbers in the event you’re ever in an unsafe situation
 woman in front of temple

Featured Student

Emma Pfizenmaier studied International Service Learning in Madurai, India through a Faculty-Led Program

I never thought I would have the chance to study abroad as a graduate student, but my trip to India was definitely one of the highlights of my Master’s program. I was able to study service learning and social issues through a global lens, volunteer at a non-profit in Madurai, and sightsee breathtaking ancient temples. This experience is so valuable to me for the relationships I made and the impact it will have on my career


PSU Resources

Education Abroad Advisors

Women's Resource Center

Additional Resources

Diversity Abroad: Women Abroad An informational section on women going abroad.

Transitions Abroad Magazine Women’s Travel Advisor Articles, advice and tips from women travelers.

Her Own Way - A Woman’s Safe Travel Guide Government of Canada Guide to international travel.

Sexual Assault Support & Help for Americans Abroad (SASHAA) A new, Portland-based organization that provides sexual assault prevention and response services worldwide, including a page on staying safe while studying abroad.

US Department of State: Information for Women Travelers A government site on general travel tips for women.