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You may experience a shift in the ways gender identities, roles, and norms are perceived while you are in Talloires. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on these factors, and your behavior in some situations may be viewed differently abroad than at home. It is very important to inform yourself as best as possible about behavioral expectations, dating, and relationships in France.

Treatment and expectations of women vary greatly from culture to culture, and you may encounter restrictions in dress, behavior, and activities. While it is impossible to generalize about the experience of women traveling in all places in the world, you may experience some gender-specific challenges when you travel.

Language and cultural differences might mean that what you consider appropriate behavior for a woman at home will be interpreted much differently by the men—and women—in France, and even more so in the context of how women are often portrayed in U.S. mass media and popular culture. Students should be aware when going to clubs or bars in France, expectations might differ. For example, accepting a drink from someone can indicate an interest beyond a casual conversation.

While in France, men might be expected to adopt a more “machismo” attitude toward life and women. For instance, some men in France consider people-watching and “cat-calling” women an acceptable pastime. This may be offensive to you, and a difficult role to assume. On the other hand, men in France are more openly affectionate, such as greeting each other with kisses on the cheek, which you may find unusual or uncomfortable.

When you encounter these cultural differences, remember that you are not alone in observing them. Trust your instincts. Take stock of the context of the situation, and if appropriate, keep an open mind and do your best to respect cultural differences you perceive. You should never feel forced to act in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. You may be asked by other participants to accompany them when going out to crowded places or cultural events. Be considerate of your fellow students and help each other feel safe and comfortable by staying together and participating in events safely, in pairs or small groups.

While these links are not necessarily specific to Talloires or France, they will provide additional insight and additional resources. We highly encourage you to check them out, as well as other resources that are available on the internet.

Note: These sites or any product or service provided by the sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by Tufts University.