You have seen the pictures: the gorgeous views of the Alps, the canals of Venice, or the gazebo from the Sound of Music. You have heard the stories of travel plans gone wrong, of living off of baguettes during a week in France, or of studying in the mysterious Bodleian Library at Oxford.
Each year, students return from studying abroad experiences with countless stories. However, there is a missing part of the narrative, a perspective that is partially absent.
In the 2016-2017 school year, 38 Corban Students studied abroad. 79% of these students were women, while men made up only 21%. This number has decreased from 31% in 2015-2016.
The lack of men in study abroad programs is not just a Corban issue, but a national issue. According to data from the Institute of International Education, 66.5% of students studying abroad in 2015-2016 were women. This number has remained almost static for the past 10 years. What is preventing men around the United States from studying abroad?
An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education claims that men are less likely to study abroad because of the influence of their peer group. “A University of Iowa study of some 2,800 students at two and four-year colleges found that the more men interacted with their peers… the less likely they were to go abroad. Peer interaction did not have a similar effect on women.”
This emphasis on friendship was reiterated by a Corban student, Daniel Ziesmer. “To men who are considering studying abroad, I would say that if they are serious about it, then they should do some research to see where they would like to go and figure out if they have any friends that they would want to go with,” he states.
Ziesmer spent a semester studying abroad with AMBEX in Germany, primarily with female friends. “Eventually, everyone on the trip will become friends and get along,” he says, “but traveling with friends makes adjusting to the new culture way easier.”
Studying abroad comes with countless personal and career benefits (see How Can Studying Abroad Help Your Career?). Students have the opportunity to experience a new culture, learn in a different environment, and make incredible memories. How, then, can more men be convinced that this is worth leaving their established social circles for?
Ziesmer encourages men not to be concerned about the gender gap in study abroad. “I know one turn off for some guys is the idea of being the only guy on the trip,” he says. “While that is a high possibility, that shouldn’t be a reason that keeps someone at home.”
Daniel King, a ministry major at Corban, also spent a semester studying in Germany. What would he say to men who are not considering studying abroad? “I would say to re-think that choice. Given that traveling is not for everyone, it is incredible to experience such a different lifestyle.
Written by Brianna Ashmore
Brianna Ashmore is a junior at Corban University. She is passionate about encouraging Christians to be more engaged internationally.