Dating is hard enough, adding a cultural ridge creates a whole other set of challenges. It can be an exhilarating opportunity to learn about life outside your own personal bubble, but it also has the potential to be very trying. As someone who dated a guy from Russia for several months, I can tell you I learned a lot. Here are 4 things you can probably relate to if you've ever dated a foreign student.
1. You get to experience a new culture without having to study abroad.
There are multiple facets of this point: from food to language and even behavior. You'll learn many things that will change how you view the world and maybe how you go about daily life. For example, I was taught some Russian by the guy I dated, and I still brush up on it every so often. If you've been looking for a way to expand your understanding of cultural diversity, this is way cheaper than a study abroad program. I gained so much knowledge during this period of time, I visited almost every site that had to do with Russian history and culture. (For future reference, don't give a Russian an even number of flowers).
2. Sometimes cultural differences will lead to disagreements.
Cultural disputes are bound to arise at some point in the relationship. One person might be offended by a seemingly harmless gesture that ends up creating a misunderstanding. Also, the dynamic of the relationship and role each play in the partnership can vary in opinion. I had to explain how I didn't want to be paid for all the time, and he struggled to grasp this concept. Hopefully, both parties are mature enough to work on the issue, but communication can also become a problem due to contrasting cultural backgrounds. I ran into relationship problems I didn't even know existed and it was a doozy trying to figure out how to fix them.
3. There's a lot of physical attraction (I mean, have you heard THE ACCENT?!)
Whether it's the accent or just the simple thought of being with someone from over yonder, dating a foreign student is undoubtedly hot. This doesn't have to be all about appearances or physicality either. The way European men and women go about romancing someone they have a crush on is different than people do here in the U.S. As the kids would say, it just hits different.
4. You sometimes have to pretend you know what they're talking about to avoid awkwardness.
Sometimes his accent would make it really hard to understand what he was saying, putting me in numerous awkward scenarios. Many times I just nodded my head and said "yup". Learning their native language helps, but you can only learn a language so fast, and some languages are harder to learn than others. Meeting the parents becomes an insufferable game of telephone with your date having to translate every other sentence. Additionally, get used to decoding text messages and try and restrain your urge to correct their grammar.
However you throw it, if you have the chance to get to know someone from another country, you definitely should. In a time where our nation seems focused on isolating itself from foreign ties, you'll find that all the stereotypes we've grown up hearing are anything but right. Though you may think you might not have much in common, the human condition is more similar than we know.
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