Sexual Health and Dating While Abroad

Nazli Tiyaloglu London, England


December 13, 2022

One topic that may be considered “difficult” or “embarrassing” to discuss for some is dating and sexual health while abroad and how to maintain it. Let’s face it, it’s simply human nature to develop crushes on people you find attractive or to find yourself in a romantic relationship with someone you met while studying abroad. This can be a beautiful experience as long as you do so safely and wisely.

Although I am no doctor or sexual health expert by any means, I’d like to discuss dating and the importance of practicing sexual safety while balancing your studies in a foreign country, which applies to everyone.

If you are expecting to date while abroad, it is useful to do some research about the social norms when it comes to romance in the nation you are studying in. In some countries it may be acceptable to show public displays of affection with a significant other, while in others it may be viewed as rude. Being aware of the normalities in the country will help you avoid uncomfortable scenarios and/or conflicts. 

Let's say you have been talking to someone you find cute and you are asked out by the individual to grab dinner, drinks, etc. First and foremost, you should let a friend or even a family member know where you will be and who you will be with during this date, especially if it is the first time you are meeting them. Sharing your location with your roommate, friends, or even a trusted family member will assure you are safe and traceable as well. Practice being aware of your surroundings, make sure your phone is fully charged, avoid meeting in isolated areas, pay attention to your food and drink, and always trust your instincts. This might seem overboard, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

What I have seen in many bars and restaurants in the United Kingdom are signs that advise you to ask an employee for “Angela” if you feel unsafe with your date. This will assure you are escorted to safety in a calm and professional manner if you ever find yourself on a date that is not going smoothly. 

If you are sexually active, it is a good idea to find and access testing resources regularly in the country you are studying in. In London where I am currently studying, you are able to request a sexual health screening kit online through the London Sexual Health website. This website provides home STI testing and both regular and emergency contraception. The home testing kit is a quick and simple process to make sure you are safe sexually by providing swabs and blood. The website also has loads of resources and answers to questions you may have regarding your sexual health.

On the topic of being sexually active, contraceptives such as condoms and birth control may be accessible at your nearest sexual health clinic. It is wise not to partake in sexual activities while under the influence of alcohol or other substances as it increases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Agan, I am definitely not a professional. It is best to contact a doctor or clinic if you have specific questions regarding your sexual health. Sexual health and dating are simply human nature, so your happiness and well-being should be your top priority! 

With love,