Imagine sipping coffee at a tiny Parisian café and discovering 21st Century Joan of Arc’s, Coco Chanel’s, and Edith Piaf’s. Or, how about nibbling on falafel under the shade of the Egyptian pyramids while searching for Cleopatra’s ghost? The impact and effect women have had in the world, no matter what country, should be celebrated (with red nails and glossy lips). Women’s studies is not only about feminism and sexuality, but also about the politics, culture, history and the impact women have had all over the world... and where better to see this than while out getting a degree abroad?
Why Earn a Degree Abroad
The ultimate plus point of women’s studies: rather than studying a specific discipline, the degree looks at the way of life from start to finish, from the past to the future. This means that purely having lived, you are qualified to have an opinion on the progression of women in your country; the way they are represented in court, politics, media and more. (Awesome, degree done, bring on the champagne!)
You may then think, but why do it abroad? Ever wondered the way the Australians perceives women as fearless leaders (after all, they were faster on the female prime minister bandwagon than most of Europe)? Or, how the one child policy in China affected boy/girl ratio and its knock-on effects in Chinese society? Each country has its electrifying versions of their women; don’t stay in your comfort zone and take a leap in your favorite pair of shoes. Have they ever failed you?
Discussing the impact of Rosa Parks in shaping today’s society is of course fascinating. But, would fellow South American peers think the same? Studying abroad gives the student a direct link to so many other bright young individuals bursting to share their thoughts. For a degree that studies every aspect of society from women’s perspectives, both in the past and the present, exposing yourself to a whole new culture will naturally enhance your awareness from the get-go.
Women’s studies give graduates access to wide ranging opportunities in both the private and public sector. But, with increasingly high supply of recent graduates and relatively stagnant level of demand, competition is fierce. A degree in women’s studies from international universities particularly increases your intercultural awareness, heightened by a wealth of knowledge. Even if it’s not for the sake of boosting your resume, after your time abroad, you yourself will feel different in the way you carry yourself and approach problems. Your time away will have an everlasting impact well after your student life.
Before you start advocating for “ovesters” instead of “semesters,” keep in mind: the world is your oyster. The field of women’s studies is becoming more and more popular internationally, and thus available at more universities than ever before. One of the best things about studying women’s studies? — every country has a dizzyingly wide range of women. Take some time to discover which programs best suit your needs, and then set sail!
Europe is known to be in a progressive state regarding women. Western European countries, like England, France, and Italy illustrate the high standards which many other countries aspire to. Holland might be the obvious answer for those seeking to challenge the legalization of prostitution and its social impacts, while Norway could teach a thing or two about social services for mothers.
The Middle East has typically been seen to offer a very different set of views on women’s rights, with women living a very different lifestyle to their counterparts in the West. With the majority of the countries in the region being Muslim, it will be a fascinating way to explore a new culture- especially from a religious perspective.
Being the continent to show the fastest economic growth, Asia offers a fascinating time to discover how women have been impacted along the way (or, as super-ladies would put it, how we shaped the economy). Consider choosing to study in Thailand or better yet, India – you will officially be the coolest and most well-informed friend everyone has.
Women’s Studies Degrees
Within the field of women’s studies, universities adopt the tools of science, economics, politics, history and other subjects to tackle the questions of women: how do we define women and their roles in society? As the nature and relativity of women around the world change on a daily basis, women studies are an exciting subject to pursue.
With the degree covering so many different wide ranging subjects within the realms of gender, the requirements for the course is general (although it’s always a good idea to double-check and pay attention to language demands for your women’s studies major), which keeps the possibilities large, allowing the student to really hone in on the specific city/country they want to study in. Be it feminist, gender or sexuality specific, or keeping it general with women’s studies, there is something out there that suits everyone.
Most large universities offer undergraduate as well as postgraduate degrees in women’s studies, with many offering spaces for doctorate students each year. Oftentimes, the degree cohort will be a manageable size and not too large, allowing frequent student-professor interactions as well as the students getting to know each other well. What an opportunity, to meet and learn with like-minded strong individuals passionate about women’s studies and the desire to empower women, with people from all over the world! (Queue metal shields with beautiful women engraved raised high to the sky with a big cheer of “yes we can”!)
Benefits & Challenges
Turn a challenge into a benefit. Don’t sit back when you see injustice or discriminating behavior towards women and men alike. Choosing the women’s studies major gives students the chance to fight back and debate constructively. It’s not marshmallows and pink bubblies all the time – many of those looking for women and gender studies jobs have received unprovoked criticism for choosing to study their degree. Don’t be intimidated and cower away; stand proud and celebrate what women have achieved in the past and what you will achieve in the future.
Multi-cultural, like-minded friends. Give the life of a student abroad a couple of weeks to settle in and acclimatise to your new surroundings. Before you know it, you’ll be picking up the country’s cultural references towards women to address in your first assignment. University years abroad is what many people consider the best time of their lives; add a cohort of strong-minded BFF queens, and it’s bound to be unforgettable.
Wealth of knowledge. Earning an international degree in women’s studies presents the chance to really immerse students in another culture’s way of perceiving women. You’ll also be forced into contact with other international students who bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from their home countries. Daily life in another country in itself should be considered as a module; it offers insight that doesn’t have the same impact when it’s quantified and written down.
Whether you're a superwoman or superman, already so or on your way to becoming one, jumpstarting women’s studies careers with a fully-fledged international degree will give you options to fly in so many directions. Both males and females have shaped the world as we know it, and this degree without boundaries is critical in ensuring that power remains in the hands of both gender parties!