Glimpse Quarterly Features Exclusive Report on the Challenges of Intercultural Dating

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Glimpse Quarterly's Summer 2006 issue compiles tips, anecdotes and statistics from a survey of hundreds of American study abroad students on the challenges and benefits of cross-cultural dating.

An exclusive report released in the Summer 2006 issue of Glimpse Quarterly utilizes feedback from a survey of hundreds of American study abroad students to explore the challenges and benefits of cross-cultural dating. Of the survey sample, 36.8 of male students and 44.3 percent of female students report that they dated locals while abroad. Of these students, 36 percent of males and 53 percent of females became involved in a serious relationship.

Students relate a wide range of experiences. Many women who spent time in France, Spain, Italy and Latin America initially felt daunted by the forward, aggressive ways in which local men pursued their romantic interests, as well as the prevalence of public displays of affection. Says University of Minnesota student Bonnie Folkestad, “Spanish men wanted to rush things. They had no problem telling a woman that they loved her, or that they wanted to marry her, or that she should not return home.” University of Texas student Marcus Valerio comments that “the people in Mexico are more ‘hands-on.’ It is not uncommon to see a couple making out on the street.”

Those who study abroad in heavily Muslim countries, by contrast, find public displays of affection to be scarce. “But relationships are still great,” asserts a Colorado College student who studied abroad in Morocco. “They’re just more private and mainly exist behind closed doors.”

Beyond language barriers, differences in value systems prove to be the most common challenge for American students enmeshed in the overseas dating scene. Says Pennsylvania State University student William Nabb, who studied abroad in Vietnam, “I remember eating with my girlfriend on many occasions and having to accept the fact that she was going to serve me.” Other students wrestle with their significant others’ dubious attitudes toward the United States, like University of Rhode Island student Jill Herrington, who says, “My Australian boyfriend and I got into lots of debates about the United States and our political system.”

The report was written and compiled by Glimpse Quarterly’s Editor in Chief, Kerala Goodkin, who asserts, “If you want to truly immerse yourself in another culture, get involved in the local dating scene.” Yet she warns that cross-cultural dating requires “a flexible mentality and a willingness to adapt to different dating practices, different attitudes toward dating, different perspectives on gender roles and, of course, different perspectives on life in general.” The report also includes excerpts from articles on intercultural relations, featured on Glimpse Quarterly’s online counterpart, GlimpseAbroad.org.

In addition to this exclusive report, the Summer 2006 issue of Glimpse Quarterly features a special spotlight section on South Africa, featuring first-person perspectives on race relations over a decade after the end of apartheid. It also features a photo essay on the daily realities faced by Palestinian refugees. Other stories include: “Shaming America: Bill O’Reilly and Sharon Stone” and “The Bad People Took My Daddy Away: A Guatemalan Refugee and his American Son.”

Glimpse Quarterly is published by the 501(c)3 Glimpse Foundation, which promotes cross-cultural understanding and exchange, especially between the United States and the rest of the world, by providing a print and electronic forum for sharing the experience of young adults living and studying abroad. Primarily distributed through colleges and universities across the country, the magazine has a current circulation of 10,000 with a projected readership of 15,000. It is also available in bookstores nationwide.

The Glimpse Foundation was established by Brown University students in November 2001 and began full-time production in May 2002, with generous seed funds from the National Geographic Society. Glimpse uses its growing youth network to innovate platforms for creative nonfiction, informed discourse and intercultural exchange.

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Kerala Goodkin