Discover Studying Abroad

#SmartStudent: 5 tips on dating when you're studying abroad

Our #SmartStudent series brings you simple tips that help you ease into life as an international student and be a responsible resident of the country you have chosen to study in.
BY Cherryy Chauhan |   13-07-2017

The excitement of studying in a new country doubles when you consider that it opens up a whole new spectrum of social interactions. Depending on where you come from, and where you go to study, it can be a liberating experience, but there’s also plenty of room for misunderstanding, especially on dates. Whether you date casually or get into a serious relationship, the experience may be quite different from dating back home. Here are five things to keep in mind to avoid disaster.

  1. Understand the social norms of your host country

    Living in another country broadens our horizons, as we add many of its societal values to our own. It helps to watch out for one’s own cultural assumptions, though. A simple gesture – say, splitting the check with your date, or pulling out a chair – may be viewed as either decent behaviour or excessive formality.So learn to observe others’ manners, ask a friend beforehand what’s appropriate, and, if all else fails, keep your sense of humor handy.
  2. Work at bridging the cultural gap

    An intercultural relationship comes with both advantages and drawbacks. Shared interests may be what brought you and your date together in the first place. But be proactive in bridging the cultural gap. One way of doing this is to learn each other’s languages. Another is to celebrate each other’s festivals. There are plenty more – you’ll figure them out as you go along.
  3. Life is not as seen on TV

    The way to know a country and its people is definitely not through TV shows. It would be absurd, for example, to expect your average New Yorker to be like a character from Friends. Remember, no matter how open and unreserved a new culture may seem, you can be sure it has its own etiquette and expectations.
  4. Your safety is in your hands

    When you’re thousands of miles from home, you’re responsible for yourself. Don’t get so caught up on your first few dates with someone; friendly as they might seem, you’re still getting to know not just them but also their culture. Follow common-sense rules: make sure your friends know where and with whom you’re going out, and don’t get talked into anything you’re not ready for. If you have doubts about consent, you will find plenty of campus resources to guide you. Better to do your homework than be labelled a creep.
  5. Communication is key

    Effective communication – verbal and non-verbal – is important in any relationship, but especially so in an intercultural relationship that could get serious. It’s important to talk about your aspirations, problems, goals, and expectations.

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