Dude, where's my passport?: An exploration of masculine identity of college men who study abroad
In this phenomenological study, I examined the experiences of college men who participated in a study abroad program lasting a minimum of one semester. I explored how college men who study abroad described themselves as men, how the views the college men had of themselves influenced their decision to study abroad, how the ways in which the men described themselves as men influenced their experiences while studying abroad, and whether the male students perceived that they had altered their view of masculinity as a result of study abroad. Using the social construction of masculinity and college men gender identity theory as theoretical frameworks to guide this study, I sought to attain a clearer understanding of the experiences of men who study abroad as these experiences related to their masculinity identity. Eight men participated in three in-depth interviews through which data for this study were collected. The data were coded, analyzed, and organized into four emerging themes: a) Expressing Masculinity, (b) Men's Unfamiliarity with Themselves as Men, (c) Men as Relational Beings, and (d) Study Abroad as a Pathway to Change. The findings revealed that the males in this study expressed their masculinity through competitiveness, in particular through academics and sports; being strong; and defining success personally. The men's unfamiliarity with themselves as men was apparent from their limited awareness of their gender identity, the blurring of societal and personal beliefs about gender, and the notion of gender as a female occurrence. Men as relational beings was evident from the participants' desire for connection and to find one's place, the vital role of family, and the men's fear of being alone. Finally, the participants described having a new understanding of masculinity, an enhanced level of confidence, a less restricted plan for their future, and a more inclusive worldview, illustrating that study abroad was a pathway to change. I discussed ways in which my findings add to existing literature and shared recommendations for current practice and future research to better serve male study abroad students.