Safe Sex and Study Abroad
March 27, 2012
By John Miller

Studying abroad is, obviously, about far more than what happens in the classroom. Most Study Abroad program schedules are designed so that students can travel and explore. A Study Abroad experience can be – in fact, should be – life-changing, opening your eyes to art, culture, history and different ways of doing things.

If you Study Abroad and don’t get out and explore and push the envelope a little bit, you’re doing it wrong. Students can have phenomenal experiences when studying internationally but, on the other hand, they can also get carried away and end up in situations that are less than ideal. So, it’s very possible to find yourself on a beautiful evening in Florence enjoying the wine, overwhelmed by the scenery and feeling very social with newfound friends. That could be an innocent memory that lasts a lifetime.

But at the risk of spoiling the fun, it could also turn into a regrettable moment of exuberance that ends with – playing this all the way out – unprotected sex and, if you’re unlucky, a sexually transmitted disease (STD). STDs are fairly prevalent among students studying abroad. One clinic in Madrid told Expat Health that 65 percent of the exchange students they see are diagnosed with an STD.

For sexually active students, the rules abroad are the same as they are at home – you need to practice safe sex. Just because there’s a heightened sense of exploration, and maybe even daring, doesn’t mean the rules are different in a different country. If anything, you should be more cautious; watch this video on Sexually Transmitted Diseases from Dr. Frank Gillingham, medical director for HTH Worldwide, for more information.

It’s true that the issue of contraception has become a political football over the last month. However, it’s sound advice to be prudent should you find yourself in an intimate situation with someone from a faraway country that you just met.

So have a blast when you’re studying abroad. Explore. Do new things. Push the envelope.

But don’t have unprotected sex.

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