How to Find Love While Studying Abroad

Ever since Lizzie McGuire hopped onto the back of Paolo’s Vespa, we’ve all thought about how great it would be to travel abroad, romance a handsome stranger who has an adorable accent and spend a few weeks exploring another country with our dreamy, foreign fling. Studying abroad is all about exploring new places, trying new things and being spontaneous, so this could be the perfect time to have a casual fling with a hottie who can show you the ropes to this new, foreign lifestyle of yours.

If you’re studying abroad, the prospect of finding love can sound more appealing than ever. The only problem is, you may not know where to look for it. Whether you’re looking for a nonchalant fling or even a serious boyfriend while you’re studying abroad, here’s a little advice for how to make it happen!

Looking for a casual fling?

Whether you’re planning on studying abroad for a few weeks or a few months, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to go home eventually. That’s why sometimes it’s better to keep your study-abroad romance more on the casual side. This guy won’t be the kind of guy who’s going to introduce you to his parents, but you’ll definitely want to take lots of pictures with him to show off to your friends back home!

“I was studying abroad in Florence, Italy, this past semester and ended up hanging out with this one guy I met at a bar almost the entire time I was there,” says Katie*, a collegiette at the University of San Diego. “I told him upfront that I was only going to be there for a few months, so we decided to keep it super casual and I ended up having a really great time with him! I knew there were no strings attached and I would be leaving soon anyways, so I didn’t feel any pressure to make it work or impress him.”

Hanging out at local bars and clubs is a great way to meet cute local guys. Just make sure he’s not a skeezy local before you decide to make a move and put your flirting skills to the test.

“I would say that most of the locals know where the American college students like to hang out, so they’ll go there to pick up girls,” Katie says. “They know what they’re doing! They’ve done it before. You just have to be okay with the fact that you might not be their first American fling.”

Studying abroad is all about exploring new things and being a little bold, so don’t shy away if a dreamy Italian man asks you to dance or the hot guy from Madrid offers to buy you a drink. One of the most important things about studying abroad is seizing every opportunity that’s thrown your way, and we definitely consider a good-looking guy with a cute accent a worthy opportunity! Just make sure you’re being safe; if a guy is really giving you the creeps, don’t ignore your instincts, and don’t accept a drink you didn’t see the bartender make.

Don’t be afraid to approach a guy and start a conversation or invite someone to dance with you either. Men in other countries are often much more forward when it comes to romancing a pretty lady. While not every suave foreigner you meet will be looking for a lifelong romance, don’t let that stop you. When you keep things casual, you won’t have to deal with painful goodbyes or lingering feelings once you’re back in America. You get a few weeks of carefree fun before it’s time to head back home. No strings attached!

Looking for real romance?

Whether you’re under the Eiffel Tower, admiring the coasts of Greece or salsa dancing in Spain, you can’t help but let the beauty of your surroundings make you feel all lovey-dovey inside. And while the nightlife is one of the best parts about studying abroad, you’ll have a much better chance at a lasting romance if you meet a guy in a more casual setting. Maybe you’ll meet your dream guy at the café around the corner, or maybe he’s waiting for you at the local museum. Exploring the city around you may just lead to you running into someone who could be your next great love.

Taylor, a student at the University of San Diego, may not have found the love she was looking for while studying abroad in Italy, but her best friend sure did!

“My best friend Lindsay* and I were studying abroad in Italy, and the first week we were there, she met this guy while we were exploring Venice,” she says. “We were sitting in a little café reading and he came up and asked her about the book she was holding. I felt like we were in a movie. I was surprised they hit it off so fast, but even more surprised when she told me she was in love with him after the third week of knowing him! I thought she was crazy and that it would fade once we got back home, but it’s been over a year now and they’re still dating!”

There’s no one place you should go when looking for a real romance. The guy of your dreams could be anywhere; you just have to keep an open mind! He could be a street artist in Paris or a waiter at the restaurant you and your friends go to, or you could meet him right after you throw that lucky penny into the Trevi Fountain. When you truly immerse yourself in the culture and make an effort to talk to the people around you, you’re bound to meet at least one worthy love connection.

Learning a little bit of the native language may help you in your endeavors to find your foreign fairy tale as well. If you can converse with the natives in their language, they’ll appreciate it. A language barrier can really hinder a budding romance, so make an effort to learn at least a few words and phrases before you embark on your study-abroad adventure. This could be the perfect excuse to put those years of high school Spanish, French or Italian to the test. Make sure you at least know the word amore!

While finding your one true love in another country sounds super romantic, it’s also important to remember that long-distance relationships can be hard. Before you commit to your super cute Italian/Spanish/Australian/Irish boyfriend, make sure you’ll be willing to put in the effort to make it work once you get back home.

Don’t overlook the cute American!

While you may be stuck in the mindset that your study-abroad fling is going to speak a different language and show you around his city, it’s important to remember that there will be tons of other college guys studying abroad with you, too. The best part is, they’ll get to go back to the States with you when your semester comes to an end!

“I think when you’re studying abroad with other guys from your school, it’s not as big of a deal if you hook up,” Katie says. “Since you’re in another country, you’re a little more carefree and you kind of feel like the rules don’t apply. What happened in Italy stayed in Italy!”

Whether he goes to your school or not, nothing will make you guys bond like attempting to read foreign maps, trying new foods or getting lost in the city. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any language barriers with this guy.

Another plus to dating an American in a foreign country is that they’ll be just as stoked as you are to see all the sites. Your American fling will be just as excited as you are to put a lock on the love bridge in Paris or take pictures pretending to hold up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“I was on a tour in Rome while I was studying abroad and met this really cute guy in my tour group,” says Natalie, a collegiette from Seattle University. “We really hit it off and I found out that he goes to University of Washington, which is really close to my school! I think everyone hopes to go to another country and meet some hot foreign guy—I know I did—but I never expected to fall for an American while I was in Rome. I guess it’s kind of ironic that I had to go to another country to meet him!”

Don’t be shy if you meet a cute American who you’d like to get to know better. The fact that you’re both immersed in a new culture is the perfect excuse to bond and a great opportunity to invite him to explore the city with you. Invite him to try the cute pizza joint around the corner that everyone has been raving about or to check out a local art gallery with you.

Moral of the story: if you can’t find the Paolo to your Lizzie McGuire, then you can always go searching for Gordo!

Whether you’re looking for a lasting romance or a short-lived fling, a study-abroad romance could be the perfect addition to your foreign adventure. He may be the guy of your dreams or he could just be just a fun story to tell your friends about later––either way, we hope you find a little amour wherever you study abroad!

*Names have been changed.