Dating & Sex
All students should be aware that the ways people interact vary widely by region and country, and issues around dating and sex can be particularly difficult in a cross-cultural setting. Details like eye contact, body language, and the way one dresses can send different messages within a host culture. Observing interpersonal interactions within your host country can be useful in helping you choose the way you communicate verbally and non-verbally with others in that country.
Some people consider travel to be an aphrodisiac. Meeting new, exciting, and different people may stimulate action that you would not have taken under similar circumstances in the U.S. As a visitor in your host country, always remember that you are a guest. As such, you are not invincible; disrespectful and disruptive behavior can be judged. It is important to ask yourself why you are choosing to be sexually active, and students must be aware of and set their boundaries as well as partner expectations.
If you choose to be sexually active during study abroad, practice safe sex to protect yourself and your partner against unwanted sexual contact, sexually transmitted infections, AIDS, unintended pregnancy, and misunderstandings about the meaning of the relationship. Here are some helpful reminders for students who think that they may be sexually active during study abroad:
- Always, always, always ask for consent from your partner before sexual activity. Failure to obtain consent from a partner can result in unwanted sexual contact, which has serious legal ramifications. What counts as consent? Make sure you know what consent is – and isn't.
- Be responsible when consuming alcohol or using other drugs as they can negatively affect your behavior and ability to make safe decisions.
- You are not immune from receiving and spreading sexually transmitted viruses and bacteria while living abroad. Take a supply of condoms with you because conditions of availability and purchase of condoms may be limited in your host country, and conditions of manufacture and storage may be questionable.
- Study abroad students can get pregnant and impregnate others while living abroad. If you are using a form of contraceptive such as birth control pills, remember to consult with a physician to ensure that you have a sufficient supply to take with you because it may not be possible to obtain the same contraception in your host country.
- Emergency contraceptives, sometimes referred to as the “morning-after pill,” are intended to prevent unintended pregnancy after sex. This form of birth control can be very effective if you think that your chosen form of birth control has failed, you did not use contraception, or you were the victim of sexual violence. Note: emergency contraception pills are different from Mifepristone, also known as the “abortion pill.” Not all countries or regions will have emergency contraceptives such as the "morning-after pill" available.
Study abroad students often return from their host country with at least one souvenir; however, we hope that Texas Tech students' souvenirs do not include accusations of sexual assault, unintended pregnancies, and/or sexually transmitted infections. Be safe, Red Raiders!