Nineteen-year-old Michael* was studying in Europe when he spotted a handsome guy at a soccer game in Wales. Despite not having any intentions to date while abroad, he put his worries of rejection and incompatibility aside and struck up a conversation with the gorgeous stranger, later known as Andrew. The two hit it off immediately, and for the remainder of Michael’s stay, they were inseparable.
Whether you’re looking for a real relationship or simply a fun flirt, studying abroad is perhaps the best time to experiment with romance. Being in a different country gives us an excuse to meet new people. Are you one to complain that there are absolutely no dateable guys at your school? Well, when you’re out and about, there are no excuses.
We are often worried about what to do in the awkward situation of running into an old flame and forget to have fun in present moment. It’s safe to say that when you’re roaming the romantic sidewalks of some European country, there’s a very small chance that you’ll ever see the people you come across again. So why not be a little more daring for once, bat your eyes at the waiter and hint that you’d like to hang out after he gets off work? Have fun and see which flirting techniques work for you and which don’t.
The great thing about being abroad is that you can explore your options when it comes to romance. You’ll be able to discover what kind of personalities you like and practice interacting with those you become interested in. If you challenge yourself to talk to a new person every day (they don’t necessarily have to be a love interest), then you are already expanding your people skills.
One of the most important things to remember is that confidence is attractive. If you’re bold enough to start a conversation and you casually drop in that you’re from a different country (a perfect icebreaker), you’re halfway to starting a new friendship. You don’t have to get a boyfriend out of this experience—just some practice. Get to know a different side of yourself when you’re not around your usual peers. It’s exhilarating to discover the fierceness inside of you.
While Michael and Andrew had to end things when Michael returned home, the two maintain a light-hearted friendship. They might not have been soulmates, but a great friend and lasting memories are what count. To this day, Michael does not regret approaching Andrew—in fact, it is one of the highlights of his study abroad experience.
Perhaps approaching someone isn’t always as easy as it was in Michael’s case. The point is: what could be the harm of simply saying “hello” to someone you find yourself attracted to? You could never talk to them again, or you could make a lifelong friend—you never know.
*Name has been changed
Last modified: June 2, 2010