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It is important to consider sexual health and safety while you’re abroad or in a new environment. Attitudes, norms, and laws related to sex and relationships vary in different cultures and countries, and it is important to be aware of these differences. Whether you are sexually active or not, it is important to reflect on your own sexual health and behavior before departing. While abroad or in a new environment, it's important to be responsible when it comes to sexual health and protection.

Before You Depart

  • Understand your own sexual health, and get a medical check-up. This can help protect you and others.
  • Fill necessary contraceptive prescriptions, such as birth control, and have enough for the entire duration of your program. Review the Taking Medications Abroad webpage for further information.
  • Bring other non-prescription forms of contraceptives as they may not be readily available abroad and quality standards may vary. 
  • Research cultural norms, laws, and attitudes related to sex, relationships, and contraception in your host country.

While Abroad

  • If you are sexually active, practice safe sex and use contraceptives including birth control and condoms. 
  • Have an open and direct conversation about your intentions and limits with any potential partners.
  • Monitor your alcohol consumption and watch your drinks. Do not accept drinks from a stranger. Do not drink anything you did not open yourself or that you did not see being poured. Never leave your drink unattended. 
  • Do not have sexual relations with commercial sex workers.
  • If you think you have been exposed to an STD or have symptoms of an STD, get tested.
  • If you are a victim of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or relationship violence contact your program staff, local police, or Education Abroad

Dating Abroad

If you are considering pursuing a romantic relationship abroad, be aware that appropriate and expected behavior with regards to dating differs from culture to culture. Have a clear sense of what you want and don’t want, and communicate this to a potential partner. This can help ensure that your experiences are within your boundaries. Language barriers and cultural expectations can make this type of communication more difficult but increase its importance.
  • Plan to research a bit before you go to get a general sense of dating practices and cultural nuances. Keep in mind that the level of cultural acceptance of same-sex couples or interracial couples varies widely around the world. Additionally, physical acts of intimacy (such as hugging or hand-holding) may mean different things outside the U.S.
  • Review the Apps & Communicating with Home webpage for information related to using dating apps abroad. 

Additional Resources