Congratulations, you did it! You’ve taken a leap of faith and ditched your campus for the big city across the pond, the Outback Down Under, or the village in Andes. Whether you’re a collegiette who’s already entering her second month across the border or you’re one who spends her free time surfing the school website for next semester’s study abroad options, you’re probably asking yourself the question, “Will I meet any guys while I’m gone?”
Movies like Eat Pray Love, Vicky Christina Barcelona, and EuroTrip (admittedly of varying levels of classiness) tell us that studying or traveling abroad is a rite of passage, one that’s usually accompanied by a bit of romance (or at least a little behind-the-curtains action). While not every semester at sea or walk along the Great Wall of China ends in a sloppy wet kiss, chances are, you’ll be approached by a man or two (some more desirable than others) during your travels. To prepare you for this dive into the foreign dating pool, HC has profiled the five guys you’ll meet while studying abroad, giving you the skinny on which to love, which to avoid, and which to offer a bar of soap and (a one-way ticket out of your life).
1. The Nomad
Most often spotted with an appallingly large backpack, a Nalgene, and dreads (and oftentimes sans shoes) The Nomad is one of the most widely spread breeds of man candy found in foreign countries. Why? Because The Nomad is a nomad, meaning he’s never fully satisfied by a single place. Spot him one day on the banks of the Seine and next, you’ll spot him on the banks of the Ganges. Collegiettes across the globe, rejoice!
We love to love The Nomad because he’s everything we want out of studying abroad: adventure, excitement, spontaneity, and usually, an oddly endearing amount of scruff. He encourages us to explore hidden corners of the city and he tests our courage (and our bladder control) by convincing us to cliff-dive, bungee-jump, or participate in any number of other gravity-defying activities that would normally make us run away screaming. (And we just know that we’re going to get some serious street cred back home once those free-fall photos hit Facebook, so thanks, Nomad, for your contribution to our cover photo collections.)
The downside: as a Nomad, this country-hopping cutie is bound to have some serious commitment issues, namely because he probably won’t end up sticking around in one place for very long. Frown. But then again, his dreads will start to smell anyway, and there are only so many times you can hit the hay in a hostel without wishing you at least had a door... or a curtain... or anything... seriously, can we get a little privacy in here?
Allow the Nomad to spice up your study abroad experience, but don’t get attached!
2. The Super Persistent (and Often Skeezy) Local
Again, this particular type of foreign friend-with-benefits (read: not boyfriend material) isn’t native to a single study abroad spot – you can find him pretty much anywhere. He’s also not alone! Super Persistent (and Often Skeezy) Locals – affectionately known as SPOSLs – tend to travel in packs, congregating in areas frequented by tourists (especially collegiettes like us). The SPOSL is most often spotted in nightclubs. That guy attempting to dance with you who’s mumbling in a language you cannot, for the life of you, understand? Yep, that’s him! Other SPOSL hotspots include subway cars, sidewalk benches, or anywhere else a girl passing by might pause long enough to be hit on. You will get the sense that he’s flirted with other girls in the exact same way in the exact same place before, and you will be right: he has, and it was likely no more than three minutes ago.
If the SPOSL does manage to catch your eye (and your number) with his smooth talking and unabashed flattery, he’s bound to engage you in a highly questionable DFMO (dance floor make-out), earning him the “skeezy” title, and to then proceed to earn himself the “super persistent” title. You’d better hope that your international phone has enough minutes on it, because the local will text you non-stop (usually in broken English – equal parts cute and concerning), and if you don’t answer, you can even bet on a voicemail or two.
“Finally!” you’re thinking. “Chivalry isn’t dead, after all!” But don’t be so quick to throw that million-dollar word around. The second you try to back out, pulling the “My boyfriend and I got back together” or “I’m busy washing my hair” cards, you’ll likely find that chivalry might not have a place in the SPOSL’s heart after all, because he simply won’t let it go or leave you alone. This is around the time when the “xoxo’s” at the end of every text and the daily voicemails asking you to dinner cross over from sweet to stalker, and you may or may not feel compelled to “accidentally” toss your throwaway phone in the path of an oncoming moped. Maybe.
Moral of the story? The Super Persistent (and Often Skeezy) Local is the one you make out with for a few minutes at the nightclub, not the one you choose to give your real name.
3. Mr. Fix-It
Also known as the Saving-The-World-One-Orphanage-and-Charity-and-Vaccine-at-A-Time Man, Mr. Fix-It is impressive, brilliant, compassionate, empathetic, and above all, dreamy. Likely an American pre-med student or one bound for the non-profit sector, he is constantly doing good and putting others before himself. There seems to be no end to his ambition (next stop: world peace!). He also happens to look super cute hanging out with the locals and their kids, and there’s something about that family-man attitude that you can’t help but find more than a little heart-meltingly adorable (blame the biological clock?)
One of the (many) upshots of cozying up to Mr. Fix-It is the fact that he most likely is another student participating on your study abroad program, which means he might go to your school or even (gasp!) live near you during the summer months. You won’t have to worry about leaving him behind as your semester winds up, and you’ll never have to lose sleep over the stresses of a long-distance relationship. Translation: you can get to work saving the world together right away! The only drawback: Mr. Fix-It is so good at fixing things (and getting things done, and planning new things, and organizing even more things, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah) that you might develop a bit of a complex next to all of that productive energy and glowing success. Consider this his warning label: he does not mix well with chronic procrastinators!
Then again, there’s hope for us procrastinators yet: Mr. Fix-It might just be the yin to our yang, so there’s really no harm in trying, is there? Mr. Fix-It is a definite “do.”
4. The Overeager (and Consistently Drunk) American College Student
As Americans, we at HC aren’t too thrilled about calling out our own guys on this one and we have to admit that there are plenty of tourists from other countries who are guilty as charged. However, none are so guilty as American college guys (or even American post-grads attempting to recapture the beauty and blackouts of their youth).
Why are our men the worst of the worst? Thanks to the geographic isolation of the U.S. (and its high drinking age), the moment when an American college guy crosses the border for the first time is usually the moment when he adopts both the “I must experience everything” attitude and the “What happens in Vegas...” mentality. It’s a poor mixture that leaves the Overeager (and Consistently Drunk) American College Student’s face alternatively buried behind a camera lens or in a pint of beer. When he’s not using his mouth to take body shots and make shoddy attempts at speaking the local language, he’s probably trying to press it against yours (or any other girl’s in the bar).
While we all love a good ol’ fashioned American chat every once in a while (apple pie! Carrie Underwood! Jersey Shore!), it’s best to steer clear of the Overeager American. Why? Because you went abroad to soak up the local culture, not to soak up the sweat of yet another frat boy! Take your own discreet Instagram shots of the monuments and rainforests during the day, chat up the locals in their native tongue at night, and keep your distance from the Americana throwbacks until the time comes to board the plane back home!
5. The Hopeless(ly Hot) Romantic
He’s charming; he’s suave; he speaks with an accent; he dresses even better than you do; and he’s old enough to seem mature, wise, and mysterious (but not old enough to seem like a creeper). Who is he? He’s the Hopeless(ly Hot) Romantic, the Holy Grail of all foreign-found men.
Not to be confused with the Super Persistent (and Often Skeezy) Local, the Hopeless(ly Hot) Romantic doesn’t spend his time lurking in the corners of clubs, and he likely speaks a little (or even a lot) of English. (Never struggle to ask, “My place or yours?” again!) Instead, he wiles away his free time perusing art galleries, enjoying piano bars, and looking irresistible on street corners, on terraces, and in cafés.
The Hopeless(ly Hot) Romantic is a softie at heart: sensitive, sensual, and all other qualities that make us collegiettes melt (think Noah in The Notebook, but with an accent and a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to boot). Don’t get confused by the name, though! This foreign gem is “hopeless” because he’s a sucker for all things mushy and lovey-dovey, not because we collegiettes have no hope of getting in his good graces! The best part about the Hopeless(ly Hot) Romantic is that he doesn’t just want to make out with you (and fifteen faceless other tourist girls). He wants to get to know you, date you, and romance you without the sketchy smirks and indiscernible murmurs characteristic of the skeezy local. Prepare yourself for candlelit wine dates, hand-in-hand strolls in the park, poetry, and at least one classic tree-carving sesh (complete with initials, heart, and all).
The one and only possible downside of falling head over heels for the Hopeless(ly Hot) Romantic is the fact that you’ll eventually have to go back home to the U.S. of A., and chances are your new lover boy won’t be able to follow suit (damn you, foreign visa office!). Is he worth it? Yes, yes, yes! In the words of Tennyson, “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” and it’s even better to have loved a fine foreign man, right? Right.
Do you have a romantic study abroad story? Tell us about it in the comments!