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Sex + Relationships

What It’s Like to Date an International Student in College

I recently began a relationship with a guy who is an international student. I grew up a ballerina, so I often watched Russian documentaries and shows about professional ballet. Adding to that, I was obsessed with the UK—specifically the BBC. 

I am also a travel junkie. My favorite areas to visit so far have been the Turks and Caicos Islands, Miami and the Bahamas. I hope to conquer other tropical places and Europe shortly. I always knew traveling would be in my future and my bucket list of places to travel is always growing.

So when I met my international s/o through one of my sorority sisters, we immediately clicked. I am lucky in the regard that my boy will remain in the states until graduation. Our relationship does not have the “expiration date” other study abroad students have.

We’ve only been dating for a short time (about a month), but through my experience and love of travel, I found out that different countries have unique sets of social norms. This can make dating someone from another country different from dating an American. So here are ten differences of dating an international student who loves adventure as much as you.

1. You experience a new culture

Dating an international student will allow you to open yourself up to a new way of life, language, fashion and much more! My boo is from Turkey, but he was raised in Oman. I was surprised to learn Istanbul is located in Europe, while the rest of Turkey is in Asia. His family, living in Istanbul, adapted a European style of living, so he refers to himself as a European Turk. I love listening to his stories of cliff-jumping, visiting the famous Atlantis Hotel in Dubai and going to the Atlantis Hotel’s water park. He’s going to Greece this summer, so I’m very excited for the pics. There’s so much to learn about the world and what better way than beside your SO!

2. You have an academic accountability partner

Most of the international students I have met are very motivated about receiving an education. You can find yourself a new study buddy and keep each other motivated throughout the semester! My SO makes sure we both have the time to study and sometimes it turns into a fun date at the lib.

3. New foods

Along with new culture, comes a different styles of cooking. Shopping with your SO can offer fresh food cuisine that you may have never tried. I really like going down the international aisle in Publix so he can show me different Turkish foods that he likes. Fun fact: did you know the national drink in Turkey is hot tea? I am a sweet tea lover, so I made it my mission to convert him to loving iced sweet tea. (I did it, by the way).

4. The accent/language

I think this element of dating an international student is any girl’s favorite part. Listening to them try and pronounce “Frappuccino” in  Starbucks is pretty cute. Plus, you get to hear them speak in a foreign language—let’s be honest, who doesn’t like that?

5. Different Dating Habits

There may be some cultural differences that you and your SO have to work through in regards to dating. You see firsthand what cultural differences are in the dating realm between Florida boys and your SO. In my experience, the “Bros Before Hoes,” or “Saturdays are For the Boys,” mentality isn’t his life mantra. Praise God! My SO was more concerned getting to know my personality and appreciating my intellectual ability. I was pleasantly surprised he cared about my safety. For example, the American guys I’ve dated will say, “bye,” when I am driving home late at night or walking alone. My Turkish European boo makes a point to text me and ask if I get home safe when I walk across campus at night or if I feel safe when I’m going out with friends to a club/bar. Normally, when drunk Brad from Apple Pi Theta is trying to slide in with me, my other boyfriends would laugh it off, but my new SO cares that it makes me uncomfortable and will check in with me throughout the night. A real man.

6.  Mutual love of travel

If you both love to travel, you and your SO can explore so many things together! Plus, you can both collaborate on travel ideas. My boo and I both love the beach, so we’ve talked about visiting the Maldives, Tahiti, and Bali– which we are dying to go to! We have explored more parts of Pensacola in the past two months than I have in the five years I lived here!

7.  New TV shows

Because you’re dating an international student, you have the chance to get into some pretty cool new shows. You may have to watch with captions, but they’re quite addictive. His personal favorites are Icerde, Soz, and Cukur. These are all on YouTube. The jury is still out on which one is my favorite though. I have just started looking into them. A proud accomplishment of mine is that I got him addicted to watching the Netflix series The People vs. O.J. Simpson. Yay Netflix!

8. Boundaries

With any relationship, boundaries are crucial. When dating an international student, the boundaries may be different for them. Make sure you talk this out when considering dating. For example, I asked my SO what he considered cheating, if he would go to a strip club, would he want to stay together for the three months of summer and if he was looking for a semester fling or an actual relationship. We also talked about how fast our dating pace would go and made sure we both were moving at a comfortable pace.

9.  The future

You may have to talk about the future pretty early if you are considering a relationship with an exchange student. It’s important you both have the same life goals and a similar future in mind if it does end up working out for the better! When dating American guys, they are usually not contemplating starting their career in Europe, but with my boo, we had to discuss if he wanted to move back to Oman and if he was considering staying in America.

10.  Saying good bye

Saying good bye is always hard on breaks, but even harder in summer. When dating American boys in college, usually you can see them by a road trip or flight. If I wanted to see my SO in the summer, it would be a 37 hour travel time, which comes out to about a day and a half– plus thousands of dollars. Thankfully, we have Whatsapp and Snapchat to ensure communication. I am curious to see how long of a window I have to talk to him, because the time difference is a pretty hefty 10+ hours.

Well, there you have it! If you have an international crush, take them out sometime. You never know what could happen!

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