This post was contributed by Raphaella Brice
So you’re abroad and you’re ready to live your life.
You have the utmost desire to mingle with people, make new friends, travel, and of course: be a hoe. That’s right, you read that correctly.
What’s great about being abroad is that no one knows you. You have no connection with anyone and vice versa. This creates the perfect recipe for dating. You could pretend to be whoever you want because the world is literally at your fingertips. Okay, I don’t literally mean change your “government” and attempt to pass as Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (which is understandable, she is the most powerful A-list celebrity at the moment), but you can claim a new persona, per se.
Just peel off that ‘resting bitch face’ mask and put on that ‘unapologetic yet open to new things’ mask. Well, at least that’s what I did. And boy, did I love it.
I was Nicole in Amsterdam, Jacqueline in Paris, Ava in London, Sofia in Italy… and the list goes on.
I was hoppin’ from country to country via dating, hunny. No need for a passport, I’m already checked in. To some, I’m living my best life, but I’ve had my fair share of L’s when it came to Tinder and it wasn’t cute.
But back home, I’m Raph or Raphaella or DJ Marsha (depending on who is asking).
I’m from Connecticut, USA and (proudly) of Haitian descent. I traveled a bit throughout the States and to Haiti when I was a youngin, but I had never been to Europe. My mom spent some time in Belgium, and she would always tell me about her experiences… some of them were amazing and some were meh. After learning about the pros and (especially) the cons of Europe, I decided to sign up for a year-long study abroad. And, the rest is history.
I wanted to get the full experience myself. My body was ready for that flight across the pond, but I never realized what the “full experience” would mean for me!
Let’s rewind back a couple of months, shall we…
It was early-October and I’m fresh off the boat from ‘Merica, new to the European lifestyle and all I want to do is party. Since it’s troublesome to go out in the States under 21, my arrival on European soil automatically granted all-access to bars, clubs, and purchasing alcoholic beverages whenever and however I wanted. No need to hold back, j’était prête.
As usual, it was a Friday night and I went out with a couple of foreign friends to one of the best bars on the bar strip in Leuven, Ambriorix. Belgium became my second home during my study abroad experience, so Leuven and I have a special relationship.
Ambiroix is one of the most attended bars in Leuven due to its two-floor access, credit/debit cards acceptance, cigarette-friendly policy, and it’s the ultimate mingle/hookup spot. I mean, who doesn’t love a good mingle spot where they’re higher chances of hooking up with someone? That night, I met a nonchalant yet lively Nigerian-Irish man who caught my attention immediately when I peeped him ‘Dabbin’’ in the corner of the dance floor.
Since urban culture is scarce in the Dutch part of Belgium, I made it my duty to get a name out of this man. The night progressed, along with the occasional ordering at the bar and the quick yet lengthy small-talk between us. Not buying me a drink at the bar should’ve been a sign, but we won’t get into that small bit, okay?
Losing track of time on the dance floor and peeping it was 5 am, this intentional man walked me home and we exchanged Snapchats (millennials, I tell ya), and we agreed to meet the next night. Fast forward a couple weeks later, and we’ve been talking for a while and periodically meeting up for impassioned “love” appointments, which were pleasing but deliberately bewildering. I often found myself desperately searching for an answer to this exhausting question: What are we? He had me chasing my own tail, y’all.
He had me question my purpose in life. That’s how “good” he was.
One day, this fickle man invited me over for our usual “appointment.”
I was a swamped with classes, and since the semester was coming to a close, I really wanted to begin studying and writing my papers. Obviously, my willpower is non-existent, and I found myself timidly sitting on the side of his bed later that night. What can I say? It is what it is. In his room, we began to kiss. Our energy was raw and passionate. One thing led to another, and before I knew it…
There was an action in the rear… if ya’ know what I mean!
Then he proceeded to say, “Shh, just let it happen.”
I was shook. Never in my 20 years of living did one of my regular hookups resort to entering the point of no return during a sexual encounter. What type of blasphemy did I just experience? It wasn’t traumatizing, but just…an unfamiliar sensation that I wasn’t ready to explore yet.
I’ve only been on this earth for 2 decades, not 3. I wasn’t ready to be exposed like that…it just felt wrong. After a million thoughts per millisecond, I immediately screamed, “WTF, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
Baffled, he replied, in his high-pitched Irish accent, “Wha?! It’s normal” I looked at him in complete disbelief. Did he not get the picture from my first reaction? Do I have to spell it out for him, like, N-A-H-F-A-M I-D-O-N-T-G-E-T-D-O-W-N-L-I-K-E-D-A-T, nice try tho?
Stressed by the sudden surreal moment, I had to take a couple seconds of silence.
This situation deserved it; I’m a drama queen. Eventually, I did get over it and we continued what we started, but it stayed in the back of my conscious and where the light don’t shine! At that moment, I knew that my sex-life leveled up because a situation like this had never occurred back in The States. I got a glimpse of the kinky side of European men that my friends, who lived abroad, warned me about. This epiphany resonated with me and to this day, it still has me in shock. What can I say? Life experiences are the best teachers!
Dating abroad is scandalous.
It’s panty-dropping, exhilarating, fetishizing, disappointing, and of course, insightful. It feels like you’re the protagonist in a quirky, romantic comedy about a single American learning to live life aimlessly abroad. Or maybe that’s my plot. Either way, it’s an experience that I 100% don’t regret, even though my butt will forever be changed – MS. NEW BOOTY!
Be open and don’t judge the way things may be kicking off with someone. You never know, maybe you’ll experience an awkward sexual encounter that’ll make you laugh during a moment of reflection a couple months later.
Go out and seek the world!
Raphaella is currently studying abroad in Leuven, Belgium. Amidst all of her travels, she often thinks ” I have no idea what I want to do with my life, but one thing I know about myself is that I love to make people laugh, to travel, and to help people. ” Stay updated with Raphaella on Instagram.
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