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What’s it like to Date an International Student?


So you have started dating an international student. Or maybe you have been dreaming about that cute Italian in your econ class. Dating an international student is like a roller coaster, it is exciting and scary at times and your relationship will be full of ups and downs. But hopefully for you, it will end in a smooth finish, whether you are at an online or traditional university. Here’s exactly what to expect when dating an international student.

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Experience a New Culture Firsthand

Hold on tight, you are about to become an absolute expert in another culture. When you date someone international, you get a firsthand look at the most intimate aspects of a culture. Whether it’s their habits, ways of living, family relationships — you will know the ins and outs of that culture better than most. Make sure to use this incredible opportunity to learn about their country and their way of life. Soak up as much information as you can. You are in a unique position that not many others get to experience. Not only will you become a more worldly person, but your significant other will appreciate your interest in their home life.

Top tip to adjust: Take everything lightly, and remember that it’s new for both of you.

Personal Study Buddy

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If you are dating another student, this can be a great study booster. As two students bracing university together, whether online or in person, you can keep each other on track. Try to make study hours together (but actually study), and your grades and motivation will definitely improve. Finally, if you are both on the same finals schedule, there’s no need to feel bad about holing up during midterms and finals, so study up!

Top tip to be at your best: Make academic goals and hold each other accountable. Also, try to remember that university can be stressful for both of you, and take it easy on one another during stressful weeks. If you do find yourself stressing, follow these tips for overcoming exam stress.

Try New Foods

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New culture = new foods. Dating an international student will earn you an entirely new vocabulary of foods. This is especially true if you end up spending any time with his or her family over breaks. You should take this opportunity to learn to cook new foods and become an expert in exotic flavors. It can also be fun to get the inside scoop on good multicultural restaurants in your area and make it a fun date night to try. Remember, this goes the other way too: show your significant other the best foods your culture/country has to offer.

Top tip to adjust: Be open minded about foods. If they don’t cook their food the way you are used to, you should still try it.

Learn a New Language, And Share Yours!

You would be wholly remiss if you didn’t use this aspect of dating an international student to your advantage. Use your time with your international significant other to learn their language, which will come in handy when traveling to their home country and meeting their friends and family. In addition, all the better for your studies, as learning a new language strengthens memory and the brain. You will have a blast sharing your native language with your partner as well — some of the cutest phrases come from second language learners.

Top tip to be at your best: Try not to make fun of your international cutie’s language. If you think their accent is adorable, or they make cute mistakes, make sure they are okay with a little poking fun, or else you risk offending them.

New Culture = New Dating Rules

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An international student comes from a different culture with different social norms, which invariably means different dating rules. Common dating practices that vary by culture include: boundaries, sexual fidelity, communication, and gender roles/expectations. Make sure to have a talk with your partner about what your expectations are, and what you are comfortable with.

Top tip to adjust: It can be frustrating feeling like you don’t see eye to eye on dating culture and practices. Try to talk with someone you know who has dated someone from the same culture. They can give you personal insights to help you understand tough situations.

School Breaks Will Be Hard

Dating an international student can be tough because three times a year or more, you will have to say goodbye, and sometimes for extended periods of time such as over summer break. Try to make it work by traveling together sometimes and make sure to chat often, even with the potential time differences.

If you are studying online and have the freedom and flexibility to travel, why not join your partner on their break? This is one of the many perks of online, flexible study — use it to your advantage.

Top tip to adjust: Over longer breaks, try to plan at least one trip together. On shorter breaks, try to schedule online ‘dates’ where you spend time together face to face, either talking or even watching the same TV show at the same time.

A Love of Travel

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The two of you will undoubtedly have shared interests of culture, travel, and experiencing new things. An interest in a non-traditional lifestyle can be exciting. They moved across the world for school, what else could be next? In your international partner, you’ll have a permanent travel buddy who is up for whatever, and bonus, they might know the language of where you’re traveling to. Your partner may have connections and places to stay when you visit their home country, and you will have somewhere to stay abroad. Talk about perks! Speaking of perks, use your student status to your advantage and never pay full price for flights again.

Top tip to be at your best: When visiting your partner’s home country for the first time, be respectful of his or her culture, family values and time they may want to spend with their family.

Struggles of Time Difference

They might be up at odd hours chatting with friends/family, and you might end up having to schedule chats with them at odd hours when you are both in different places. You can also expect to get goodnight messages at unpredictable times during breaks.

Top tip to adjust: Remember that time difference isn’t an excuse not to talk. Even if you know they are sleeping, it doesn’t hurt to send a little “I’m thinking of you” message.

Talks About the Future

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If you’ve been dating a while, this is imperative. To talk about the future with your significant other, make sure to keep it light but focused. Try not to bring it up in time of stress and be honest and open about what both of you want. Would he/she stay where you are, would you both move somewhere else? Where would you raise children/get married if the time came? Remember, if you have children, they will have dual nationality and be bilingual.

Top tips to be at your best: Be honest and open, and don’t compromise what you truly want.


Your international significant other may be more likely to get a job, as they will have multiple language fluencies, and the experience of living abroad and understanding many cultures. You can also move with them and get a job where they are, or both of you can find work in another country entirely. The adventure never ends.

Top tips to adjust: Make sure you start your post-grad talks early so that both of you are on the same page when it comes to where to apply for jobs.

Most Important Advice for Dating an International Student

The most important key rule for dating an international student is understanding and patience. Know that each person in the relationship has the couple’s best interest in mind and nothing is done maliciously. It can be frustrating with language barriers, cultural differences, and lapses in understanding but try to be patient with your international partner.

I Fell in Love With a Foreign Exchange Student.. Now What?

If you both feel the same way and you’ve dated for some time, start talking about the future. Make sure there is a possibility to be on the same page after graduation. Where will you go, and what are both of your long-term goals?

Talk to your friends and family if you haven’t already, as they may be able to share some additional wisdom.

Finally, a great tip is to try to link up with people from your country with knowledge of your SO’s home country. Is your partner from Spain? Make friends who studied abroad there — they will be able to give you special insight on dating and culture in his/her country.

Dating an international student is full of fun and adventure, but is not without its frustrations and uncertainties about the future. You and your significant other can have a successful international relationship, however, if you both put the work into it and keep your mind open.