Study Abroad, Get Married
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because you might be looking for love on the wrong continent.
By Laura Secorun Palet
Struggling to find your better half? Hook-up apps might be convenient and online dating is increasingly popular, but you might want to consider studying abroad.
A recent study published by the European Commission on the continent’s popular student exchange scheme “Erasmus” found out that 27 percent of participants meet their long-term partner during their exchange. No wonder why the program is colloquially known as “Orgasmus.” Set up in 1987, and named after the 16th century roving intellectual Erasmus of Rotterdam, the program covers 28 European countries, and has so far served over 3 million participants. And by 2020, four more million people will get support from Erasmus to learn another language and maybe find their soul mate abroad.
International couples could be doing more for the unification of Europe than many top-to-bottom policies.
Not only has the program helped participants hook up, it’s also responsible for a certain baby boom. The study — based on interviews with more than 80,000 students and businesses — estimates that, in 27 years, more than one million babies have been born from couples that met studying abroad. On a continent with rapidly dropping fertility rates, this is very welcome news. European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen called the babies statistic a “touching little figure” that showed the scheme “creates a lot of positive things.”
After all, international couples could be doing more for the unification of Europe than many top-to-bottom policies. The study also shows that the love of the foreign stays with students well after the experience. Thirty-three percent of participants have a partner from another nationality — that’s nearly three times the rate of those who stayed close to home for university.
Unfortunately the 227-page study doesn’t go into details of what it is exactly about moving abroad that makes long-term love so likely to happen. It could be that we are naturally attracted to what we don’t know, or the intrinsic romanticism of things like sharing an ice cream in Rome or walking around Montmartre in Paris with the sound of accordions in the air. Neither does it specify which countries or nationalities are more likely to fall in love with which. Are the Germans made for the Spanish, or the Italians for the Dutch? Does anyone like the French?
Of course the European Commission not only looked into the matchmaking potential of the international exchange’s program. It also estimated the professional value of the experience, concluding that those who studied abroad had a more international outlook on life — go figure — and had better job prospects.So those young hopefuls, looking to find the love of their life while partying in Barcelona can now also convince their parents to bankroll their adventures for employability sake.
Granted, going to study abroad is significantly more costly and time consuming that swiping right or left from the comfort of your couch. But if that’s not working out, maybe it’s time to start packing.
- Laura Secorun Palet, Laura is a foreign correspondent obsessed with borders and everything that crosses them. Born in Barcelona, based in Nairobi, she writes about national identity, migration and trafficking of all kinds. She considers herself a professional eavesdropper. Which is ironic because she is known to speak loudly. Follow Laura Secorun Palet on Twitter Follow Laura Secorun Palet on FacebookContact Laura Secorun Palet