Everyone who has participated in Erasmus can attest that while it is called a “student exchange”, it is not really about studying. According to the Erasmus Impact Study, university students often find a new job and, most importantly, a life partner, thanks to the programme.
Twenty-seven percent of the programme participants met their current partner during their exchange. Moreover, about a million children have been born to “Erasmus couples” since the programme started. Masaryk University students also sometimes bring home partners rather than souvenirs. What is it like to be in such a multicultural relationship?
For Martina Hájková, her student exchange in Bremen turned out to be a life-changing experience. It is there that she met Patrick, her boyfriend, and two years ago she followed him to Hannover, where she is now continuing her studies in an MA political science programme.
“At first, neither of us took it very seriously. However, as our relationship developed, we gradually realised it would be really sad if I went back home and we would never see each other again,” recalls Martina.
When her Erasmus stay was over, she want back to Brno to finish her bachelor’s studies and maintained a long-distance relationship with Patrick. “It’s hard. You can only survive it if you’re fully grown-up and you know that the other person is worth the effort. I went through a lot of crises, but thanks to modern technology we could keep in touch every day,” she says. Now she and Patrick live together and are planning their future together. “We still don’t know where we’re going to live. The country doesn’t matter, what matters is that we’re going to be together,” says Martina with a radiant smile.
Seven hours apart
Natália Vítková, a student of European studies, met her boyfriend in Bologna. As she describes it, “When Filip and I started dating, we didn’t know whether we were going to see each other again. Even though neither of us is a ‘summer romance’ kind of person, we just let it happen. When you meet the person of your life, you know it.”
When their Erasmus exchange was over, they kept seeing each other and are still together today. “My boyfriend lives in Prievidza, Slovakia, which means we are 7 hours apart. It's actually ‘farther away’ than if had to fly to see him in London,” explains Natália.
The couple has already tested what it would be like to live together, when they went for an Erasmus exchange together last autumn semester to Slovenia. “Erasmus and my long-distance relationship have made distances seem shorter to me. I’m willing to move anywhere in the world when I finish my studies, the main thing is for us to be together. Even if it means moving to Tokyo,” she laughs.
Barbora’s story is slightly different. “It happened very quickly and we moved in together right away. We knew we needed to be together,” she says as she recalls meeting Miquel in Norway two years ago. When their Erasmus exchange was over, the couple kept going there and back between Brno and Catalonia, where Miquel comes from and where Barbora spent four months at one point, writing her bachelor’s thesis.
In June, Miquel moved to Brno. “Only after he arrived here did I fully realise what he had done. He left everything behind for me. He would to anything for me – this is something that can only happen to you once or twice in a lifetime. However, it was not just plain sailing. Miky doesn’t know anybody here and he only managed to get a job in February. We also sometimes struggle with cultural differences,” says Barbora. She does not yet know where they are going to live in the future. “We are considering Catalonia or Norway. My boyfriend has already informed me that he’s going to marry me,” says Barbora with a smile.