If You Want To Find Love, Travel Abroad

As part of an ongoing Thought Catalog After Dark series, we will endeavor to bring you the True Sex tales of our readers. In this installment Kay, a 23-year-old account manager, describes her experiences finding love abroad. If you would like to share your real experiences, email afterdark@thoughtcatalog.com.

Describe for us your upbringing and how you became sexually aware.

I was brought up in a very normal and loving family. I was never forced into anything regarding religion, customs, etc., so I was very free to grow how I wanted. I went to a private school, and it’s just as they say – those who are restricted tend to rebel, so my middle school years were really where I opened up to things. I had my first sexual encounter with a guy when I was 13: we made out and he fingered me in a park one night. While I don’t think I knew exactly what he was doing, it was one of those things you talk about with your girls (so you can be one of the ‘experienced’ ones). By the time I got to high school I started to feel dirty with all of that. The word ‘slut’ was going into our vocabulary and I did not want to be that girl, so I backed up from everything and laid low. Throughout high school I was definitely one of the more relatively innocent of my friends who were delving into oral and intercourse.

Did you have any full-blown relationships in high school?

I had one relationship, and it was very on-and-off, to say the least. He was someone that I had met when I was 13, and we were those typical kids talking on the phone for hours before bed every night.  There was never a label on what we had – we liked each other, but were not technically a couple. He always tried to make me his girlfriend and I would always say no, mainly because I was so afraid. That also went into our physical relationship – it was innocent because of my fear of letting someone into my life. When I finally realized he was the one I wanted to be with, and decided to let my walls down to try and start something for real with him, it was basically too late.

How did your sex life evolve once you started college?

Freshman year of college is definitely one of those exciting times when you are young and curious. While my friends were opening their legs to everything and everyone on campus, I would have a hookup here and there, but I always kept quiet. I remained a virgin actually until my sophomore year of college. There was one guy I had a small crush on, and while I was never shy in hooking up (as far as letting someone touch me), he was the first guy I had ever done anything to. I obviously did not know much about what I was doing the fist time I gave him a handjob, and I was completely wasted the first time I gave him head. The time we actually had sex was just another one of those nights where we had been out drinking with friends and went back to hook up, and things just went further than they had before. I wasn’t really sure how to feel about it, because you grow up thinking that the first time is some sacred thing that you need a story for, and I had none. I guess I never really needed a special moment, because I knew I could get that sometime with someone, even if it wasn’t the first time.

Once that happened, did you feel sexually liberated, or still tentative?

I was definitely still tentative. We only had sex maybe two times after that, and then things fizzled out with him. The rest of my sophomore year I didn’t do anything with other guys, and I’m not sure why. The year ended not too long after anyways, and I was headed off to study abroad for my junior year of college.

Tell us a little about your experiences and where you went.

I studied abroad in England for my junior year. It really became more of a year traveling Europe and having to come back to write a paper or two for class, so it really didn’t feel like school. I never felt more like I found myself than that year. I was able to bounce around the continent, see so many incredible things, and meet so many new and interesting people.  There was obviously a lot of drinking and mingling during the nights, as we stayed in hostels and wanted to experience everything, so we went to plenty of bar crawls, festivals, etc. What I learned was that all I needed was to be placed in another country to let my shyness disappear. I had my first one-night stand a couple months into being there.

What happened there?

I went out with friends to a club one night and we got trashed. I met this Australian guy, and once the club closed I told my friends I was going to go back with him and I’d be home later. We went back to his flat and hooked up, after which we fell asleep. We woke up to an awkward situation: I got dressed, he walked me out and we had the most awkward exchange of words, a hug and I left. I had absolutely no idea where I was, so I had to walk around for about 30 minutes until I found an area that I recognized to get me home. My weird roommate (who I wasn’t friends with) let me in at 8:00 in the morning. I wasn’t shy about things throughout that year abroad, but I never stayed or let anyone stay with me after that because I then had first-hand knowledge of how awkward those mornings can be.

Were you emboldened by your newfound sexuality, and were these interactions fulfilling for you?

It definitely gave me more confidence when we went out at night, but it’s also not that hard to hookup when you are a backpacker, especially a young American girl.  We’re like top priorities for foreigners for some reason.  But I think overall it did help with my confidence being comfortable with guys. In the moment, the hookups definitely were fulfilling – I always ended up with a guy I was attracted to. But in the next few days, when it wasn’t more than a one-night thing, it did become disappointing and I began to realize I was trying to fill that part in everyone that wants a significant other. I was just using different guys to feel that in the moment.

In your travels, did any particular nationalities strike your fancy, and why?

I constantly seemed to find myself around Australians. They are a lot like Americans with their sense of humor and sarcasm, but they are much hotter with great accents. We also went over to Ireland twice, and on my last visit I met an Irish guy: it was one of the greatest nights I’ve ever had. It wasn’t something I was planning to do, but he was so respectful and genuine the whole night.  It wasn’t that he was just being nice to ‘get it,’ it was that I told him over and over that we weren’t doing anything and there was no expectation of anything – and then it happened.

After your year abroad, how was your sex life the rest of college?

When I returned I definitely had a newfound confidence, I think because of how much more experienced I was. I didn’t sleep with anyone throughout my last year, but I got into a habit of bringing people home with me, and sending them home in the middle of the night after we hooked up.  I definitely became more of the one taking advantage in these interactions, and was definitely using these guys for temporary fun and pleasure.  It was a very no-strings, no-frills sort of thing during this time, and I think it was because I was ending this stage of my life in school, and knew that after the year I was off to bigger and better things, so I decided just to kick back and have fun while I could.

We appreciate your unique perspective Kay. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

There are few times in your life where you feel completely free of all things and have the ability to do what you want to do. I think that being abroad gave me the ultimate freedom. I was literally in an entirely new area with a completely fresh slate. I could be whoever I wanted to be. I don’t think I’d ever felt like that before, and it was really nice to take control of my life and truly not care what others thought about me, because they didn’t know me. It also allowed me to find myself sexually, what I wanted from a partner and myself. I’ll also say, if you think Americans are the best in bed, I highly encourage you to venture out to prove yourself wrong! TC mark


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