International Studies & Programs

Dating and Sex

The ways that people interact vary widely by region and country, and issues broadly concerning dating, sexuality, and gender relations can be very different in other cultural settings. 


Different cultures have different norms with regard to gender and sexuality. Such things as eye contact, the way one dresses, and body language can send very different messages in different regions and cultures.

Cultural and religious practices around gender norms of dress, behavior, and interaction might be very different than what you're used to. Observing interpersonal interactions within a culture can help you choose the way you communicate verbally and non-verbally with others in that country.

During your education abroad, you are likely to meet people you find interesting and attractive, and the possibilities for a romantic or sexual relationship may arise. Gendered expectations of public and private behavior might be very different in this country. You should first understand the culture you're in before engaging in intimate relationships, so as to avoid misunderstandings or offense between you and an intimate partner.

  • As you would in the United States, communicate clearly about what your expectations are, be absolutely certain that you have consent to engage in any sexual activity, and take precautions to ensure the health of you and your partner.
  • Take a supply of condoms with you, since conditions of availability and purchase may be limited and conditions of manufacture and storage may be questionable.
  • Emergency contraception (EC) is birth control that prevents pregnancy after sex. Before you leave, you can pick some up at the Olin Health Center and Planned Parenthood.
  • Be responsible if using alcohol or other drugs because they can affect your behavior and ability to make decisions. 

If you experience any treatment that violates MSU's Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) policy while on an education abroad trip, know that such treatment is not your fault. You should inform the leader of your education abroad program who will report the incident to the Office of Institutional Equity and connect you to university services that may be able to help you.

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