Why the U.S. Has a Gender Gap in Study Abroad
An article from the Washington Post shows that roughly 300,000 U.S. students study abroad each year and 65% of those students will be women. Many educators have studied and tried to explain the gender gap and have suggested multiple reasons why men are less likely to study abroad, including leaving their peer groups on campus, lower GPAs, language barriers, and a perception that study abroad will not benefit them.
Despite all these reasons I still chose to venture off to a new side of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I had my doubts about leaving my family and friends behind as well as a concern that my double major course requirements wouldn’t fit. Any time I brought up the idea of studying abroad to my friends they would ask, “Why would you want to leave college?” The main motivation for me was talking to numerous men in their senior year at my university who wished they had studied abroad. They pushed me to just apply and see what happened. I knew this was probably a once in a lifetime chance to try something new.
Making Friends and Traveling Together
Our IFSA-Butler orientation group was comprised of roughly 23 women and 15 men. I found a group of guy friends who shared similar interests with me in the first couple of weeks. It was easy to make similar friendships to those I have at home because everyone abroad is starting all over too. I asked my friend Connor his thoughts on studying abroad, and he said, “I had a misconception that America had the best education system, but I was quick to learn why UCD is ranked within the 1% of higher education institutions world-wide.” My friend Mason said that, “Many of my fraternity brothers did not to venture off-campus, but now they are filled with regret after they see my Instagram posts.”
Recently for spring break we traveled to the Amalfi Coast in Italy. My friends and I booked our trip through a travel agency and were surprised to find out we were the only 4 guys in a group of 53. In the 3-day trip we befriended many of the girls who were surprised that we had even come on the trip. Even though it is a bit strange to have such a huge unbalance between genders, I do not regret going because I had the best time of my life.
Why Men Should Study Abroad
I want to challenge all men in college who currently have the opportunity to study abroad to take a chance on it. Getting out of your comfort zone and visiting an unfamiliar place can open new doors for you. It looks amazing on a college resume and is a great conversation starter during an interview. In a world that is becoming more diverse and interconnected, it is good to have some familiarity with different cultures. It could also be a deciding factor between two potential candidates that are equally matched for the same position, but one studied abroad and the other did not.
Eric Mojica is a double major in accounting and finance at Providence College and studied abroad with IFSA-Butler in Ireland at University College Dublin in Spring 2017. He is a First Generation Scholar for IFSA-Butler through the First Generation Scholarship Program.