Explore Gender Roles in Sweden Through Study Abroad

Information session Wednesday, Nov. 3 in B-205

Most college kids spend their Spring Breaks crisping on a sun-soaked beach, but a group of Santa Fe students will trade in their bikinis and board shorts for warm jackets as they head off for a week in Sweden, as part of the Spring SYG1222 course, “Studying Gender.”

Tentatively scheduled for March 3 through March 13, this study abroad opportunity is Santa Fe College’s first to Sweden, a country notoriously stereotyped for its liberal views on sexuality and gender.

At an informational session at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, in B-205, Maureen McFarlane, director of financial aid at SF,  will discuss financial aid options for students hoping to enroll in the class, which costs approximately $2,472 including airfare and accommodations. Douglas Diekow, the trip’s faculty sponsor and a professor of social and behavioral sciences, will also present details about the trip and answer any questions.

“We had two reasons for choosing Sweden,” said Diekow. “First, particularly from a family and gender standpoint, we are vastly different from the Swedish. Also, we have developed a close relationship with an institution over there.”

Expanding existing relationships

That institution, a college named Tullang Skolan located in Orebro, Sweden, had previously been in contact with another member of the social and behavioral science faculty, Professor Naima Brown. During the month of August, Tullang Skolan sent three of its faculty and two students to Gainesville to expand the school’s relationship with Santa Fe and investigate ways to better connect students on both sides of the pond through technology. This inspired Brown’s colleague, Diekow, to create his own expedition across the ocean.

“By going on this trip, we want to maintain and strengthen that relationship we have with them,” said Diekow. “We hope to continue this exchange year after year.”

As part of the spring sociology course on “Studying Gender,” Santa Fe students will be contacting their Swedish counterparts twice a month using the computer lab’s webcams and headsets. This direct contact between American and Swedish students will allow them to exchange information about gender socialization in their respective countries.

“Our students will find out first-hand about what their lives are like as college students. It’s an opportunity to interact with their college peers internationally,” said Diekow. “Their higher education system, their work systems, their healthcare, the way they care for children and the elderly-all that is starkly different.”

Itinerary

When Santa Fe students arrive in Sweden over spring break, they will get to meet the Tullang Skolan students in person. Five days of the trip will be spent in Orebro, a quaint town notable for its medieval castle and its well-preserved 18th and 19th Century architecture where Tullang Skolan is located. Aside from visits to day cares and elderly care facilities, students will be able to expand upon their research into social structure by visiting a Swedish student’s home for an afternoon.

“We’re going to look at gender socialization as well as work and family life in Sweden, especially in comparison to our situation in the United States,” said Diekow. 

The first few days of the 10-day tour will be spent in the nation’s capital of Stockholm, where students will roam the baroque halls of the Royal Palace and receive a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the Riksdag, Sweden’s Parliament building, thanks to their connections at Tullang Skolan. Depending on the weather, Diekow suggests that skiing might also be on the itinerary.

“This is just such a great opportunity to travel to a different country. In Europe, most cities are historic in terms of their age, so the sight-seeing will undoubtedly be great,” said Diekow. “I’m also looking forward to the opportunity of having an immersion experience in a smaller town with a group of students. Most other study abroad trips just participate in prepared activities, but we’re going to go and actually interact with a group of students on a personal level.”

For more information about the trip, please contact Doug Diekow at 352-381-3655 or email him at douglas.diekow@sfcollege.edu.

~ This article was written by Allison Griner, Communication Specialist, College Relations