Encouraging Male Students to Study Abroad

The national percentage for male college students who study abroad is alarmingly low compared to female college students.   Of the Gettysburg students who study abroad each year, roughly 69% are female and 31% male. Many factors contribute to this difference, but parental encouragement can influence whether men study abroad.

Helen Portale - whose son Joe Portale ’14, a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major, studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark during the spring 2013 semester - shares her advice on encouraging sons to study abroad:

With a lot of encouragement from us, our son recognized that the experience of studying abroad would be the opportunity of a lifetime. He was uncertain about going abroad in his first and sophomore years, but after hearing so many wonderful stories and experiences from his friends and fraternity brothers, he decided to consider it. Joe’s biggest perceived challenge was his science curriculum and the ability to fulfill his curricular requirements. This proved not to be an obstacle at all. After close consultation with his advisor, he managed to plan his schedule so that he could take courses toward his major and other areas of the Gettysburg curriculum while abroad. 

The biggest change we saw upon Joe’s return was his increased independence. He had travelled all over Europe, made his own travel arrangements, commuted between his host family and classes within the greater metropolitan area of Copenhagen, and immersed himself in Danish culture. This worldly experience made him more confident and outgoing. He has developed skills that will serve him well in the next phase of his life.