Sophia Imeson, Lifestyle Columnist, shares her experiences using Tinder whilst studying abroad in Madrid and her mishaps with a Spanish man named Manuel….
If you’re one of the many Exeter students preparing to go on a year abroad this summer, you may have already been given plenty of advice from the university. Most of it includes how to find a flat in your host country, why you need good travel insurance, what you should pack and how to avoid a year abroad pregnancy (apparently you’re much more likely to be impregnated when immersed in the Mediterranean madness of chorizo and sangría…I’m not so sure).
Unfortunately, however, nobody ever warns you about one of the most interesting aspects of life as an Erasmus student: using Tinder abroad.
For those of you who are fortunate enough to have never come across this infamously addictive dating phenomenon, allow me to explain. Tinder is a dating app for smartphones. It uses your profile photos from Facebook (make sure you delete that drunken snap from 2007 in which you’re clutching a blue VK and pouting more than a post-plastic surgery Katie Price) and matches you with other nearby Tinder users looking for lurve (or something more sinister).
As soon as a friend of mine introduced me to this seemingly innocent app on my year abroad, only a few weeks after my arrival in Madrid, I was hooked. How wonderfully time wasting it was to lounge around swiping through hundreds of different faces; some bearded, some pierced, some handsome, some, ahem, not so handsome. I’d heard nothing about Tinder and assumed that it was just a bit of fun and a chance to practice my awful Spanish.
I was wrong.
Manuel, my first Tinder “match”, seemed relatively normal at first. He was funny, friendly, keen to tell me all about Madrid and very chatty.
Soon, however, he became rather too chatty. One night, in between myriad messages, I received a photo of his arm covered in blue ink. When I peered closely at the picture on my phone, I realised that he’d written on the inside of one of his arms in broken English:
“Dear Sophia, I have much skin to write you many nice message on. You are very bonita”
The photo was then followed by a bizarre silent video clip of him washing off the ink in the sink and yet I shrugged it off and assumed that perhaps it was just the standard, Latino way of wooing women. Being naïve and too nice to say no, I gave Manuel the benefit of the doubt and agreed to meet up with him in a nearby park until, after an hour of being told to sit in silence whilst he gazed into my eyes, to then be sucked in to a conversation about “our future”, despite only having just met him, I found myself desperately trying to escape to the nearest café for some comforting churros y chocolate.
A few days later, when I’d plucked up the courage to let Manuel down gently, he bombarded me with messages and a video of his little nephew asking me to be his “Auntie Sophia”. I continued to receive strange phone calls and texts, but it wasn’t until Manuel sent me random videos of himself blowing bubbles with his chewing gum, going jogging and tapping his fingers to heavy metal music, that I finally decided to block his number. It was extremely weird but I have to admit that it still didn’t stop me from deleting my Tinder profile…
If you’re interested in going on a few blind dates and being a bit shallow, by all means try Tinder out. Just remember to go by my five very important rules:
- Avoid people with profile photos of their six packs and taglines that promise to “show you a good time ;)”.
- Bring running shoes to a first date in order to be able to make a quick getaway if the Channing Tatum or Mila Kunis lookalike you expected turns out to bear more of a resemblance to Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.
- Meet in a busy public place and tell your friends where you’re going. There’s always a teeny-weeny chance that your Tinder date is a cannibalistic rapist.
- Limit yourself. Do not spend your whole evening on Tinder. It will almost certainly ruin your social life.
- Last, but not least, remember that Tinder finds people nearest to your location. Wait until you’re in a private place to send that really flirty “do you like raisins…fancy a date?” text, or you may find yourself actually sitting next to the recipient of your message on a crowded train and wishing you hadn’t just clicked “send”.
So, whether you’re using Tinder at home, on holiday, during a year abroad, or surrounded by goats on top of a Himalayan mountain (if there’s 3G of course), dating-site-psychos still exist and are ready to creep up on the most unsuspecting victim. My advice is to steer completely clear of apps and stick to the conventional method of meeting people in person, or else you may just find yourself running obliviously in to the arms of a Manuel. Who knows, perhaps writing love letters on your forearm is the next big thing?
Sophia Imeson, Lifestyle Columnist
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