Australia’s leading international student news website

Changing attitudes about sex: International students going down and under

Meld Magazine

Mon May 13 2013


ADJUSTING to a new environment often means big changes in our personal lives. Lilia Villela explores the shifting sexual mores among students who are studying overseas.

Photo: geezaweezer via Flickr

Photo: geezaweezer via Flickr

“I was a virgin before coming to Sydney,” said Yujing Yang, a student from China currently studying at the University of New South Wales.

“After two months here, I became more open about sex and had my first time.”

Ms Yang is one of the 402,000 international students who enrolled at an Australian university in 2012.

According to Dr Limin Mao, Senior Research Fellow with the University of New South Wales, moving into a new environment can be a stressful experience. Many students are on their own for the first time, facing cultural differences and learning to adapt to the host country.

“In a way (international students) use sex as a tool to find friends, connect with society and validate themselves,” Dr Mao said.

A female student from Europe, who arrived in Sydney three months ago said being away from home makes her feel lonely.

“It feels better than usual when someone puts his arm around me,” she said.

For some international students, more chances to drink and the lack of parental supervision have impacted on their sex life. A few equate their stay in Australia to a vacation.

One European male student noted that there were more opportunities for sexual encounters because “everyone is a student, gets drunk and in general is more open”.

“It’s attractive to interact with people from different cultures,” he observed.

Dr Mao said students might behave differently to how they would back home because of the transitory nature of their situation and the uncertainty of whether they will stay in Australia or go back to their country.

She pointed out that while the majority of students are trying to find ‘the one’ in their lives, this outlook may or may not change during their time as international students.

Have your views about sex changed as an international student? Share with us  your thoughts in the comments below.