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Study abroad allows you the opportunity to explore cultural patterns for gender roles.  Whether a woman or man, you may experience a shift in the importance gender plays in their (perceived) identities while abroad.  For men, this might mean they are expected to adopt a more "traditional" machismo attitude toward life and women.  Men may find more discomfort with the open affection between men in many cultures.  As for women, they may encounter restrictions in dress, behavior, and activities.  As for transgendered individuals, they can be met with great confusion and the treatment and expectations will vary.

Prepare yourself by first reflecting on your own cultural understanding of gender roles and relations.  Once you are in-country you may find that your perceptions of appropriate interactions do not correspond to the acceptable interactions in your host country.  Learn what is expected in terms of dress codes, appropriate conversation topics, proximity and physical contact.  Be observant and learn the social norms and the consequences for violating those norms.  If you have any questions or concerns the IE&GE staff will gladly be able to help you.