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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 can differ greatly across cultures and countries, and it is important to be aware of these differences, whether you are sexually active or not.  

Before You Depart

  • 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. Research cultural norms, laws, and attitudes related to sex, dating, relationships, and contraception in your host country.
  • Understand your own sexual health, and get a medical check-up. This can help protect you and others. Health & Wellness Services has a lot of good resources that we recommend you check out.
  • 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. 

While 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 only increase its importance.
  • Review the Apps & Communicating with Home webpage for information related to using dating apps abroad. 
  • Make plans to meet a potential romantic interest for the first time (or before you know them well) in public spaces, such as a busy restaurant or cafe, and arrange for your own transportation to and from that location. Tell a friend where you're going and when to expect you back.
  • If you experience unwelcome or unwanted behaviors such as sexual harassment, sexual assault, or emotional or physical abuse by a dating partner contact your program staff, local police, or Education Abroad for assistance.

Additional Resources

Last Updated March 2023
Photo - New Zealand by Sydney McDaniel?