Gender and Gender Expression Abroad

Concepts of gender and gender roles can vary greatly from place to place across the U.S. and the world. There are differing ideas about family, age, norms, and everyday customs that are rooted in history, religion, or politics. You may see these concepts at work in a classroom, homestay, or internship placement. It’s important to be prepared for this new experience by understanding the laws, norms, customs, and attitudes in your new surroundings. Our office strives for inclusion and safety for all students at all locations, regardless of their gender or gender expression. We acknowledge the intersectional components of overlapping identities, and how they may affect an individual’s experiences in each place. We therefore invite every student to reflect on and research how their gender may be perceived in different locations and reach out to our office to discuss specific concerns.

The following reflection questions may be helpful to consider:

  • What are some relevant laws/legal statutes that protect people of my gender or gender identity? What are the prevailing attitudes of the local people?
  • What gender-inclusive accommodations do I require? What kind of housing situation would I prefer? What kind of housing options are available at the locations I am interested in?
  • What clothes or special items do I need to pack? How can I make sure they are reflective of my expression and identity? What can I buy on site during my program?
  • What about my health and safety? What special medical services or medications should I plan to find abroad? How can the site staff support me?
  • In what contexts will I interact with local people? How do locals usually comport themselves in these contexts?
  • Gender roles can be apparent at your internship placement. What are the clothing or fashion norms of the area or location I am visiting? Are there specific requirements for my internship placement?
  • How can I keep myself safe when I go out for fun? Am I comfortable travelling alone?
  • What sorts of interactions are there between men and women? How can I comport myself in a way that keeps myself and the people around me safe?
  • I’m thinking about dating. What should I know about dating norms in the country where I’m going?
  • I want to get involved in political movements to advance gender equality in my location. Where do I start?

Gender and Gender Expression Resources

BU Resources & Community:

Additional Resources:

While we have not captured every gender or resource on this list, we encourage you to reach out to our office to discuss any questions or concerns that you might have as you prepare for your study abroad experience. If you would like additional resources, or if you have found your own resources that other students could benefit from, please don’t hesitate to contact us at