Umberto Eco, the famous Italian writer and semiotician, when asked about the Erasmus programme in 2012, said:
“Erasmus is barely mentioned in the business sections of newspapers, yet Erasmus has created the first generation of young Europeans, it [is] a sexual revolution: a young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children.”
He saw the freedom of movement of students as a fundamental step in the creation of a European generation and identity and one of the main tools to stimulate further European integration.
When we think about the Erasmus Programme we usually think of amazing opportunities and mobility of individuals, but there is another side to it that is not often mentioned: love and babies! Today is Valentine’s Day and whether you believe in this holiday or you think it’s a capitalistic way to maximize profit on people’s relationships, no one can deny that it is nice to take a day to think about love and to appreciate all kinds of love.
But let’s get back to Erasmus! It has been proven time and time again that Erasmus is very good for one’s personal development, employability, and language skills. What most people don’t think about is that Erasmus also impacts the romantic sphere of the people who take part in the activities promoted by the programme.
According to the statistics of the European Commission, former Erasmus students are more likely to have transnational relationships. 33% of former Erasmus students have a partner of a different nationality, compared with 13% of those who stay home during their studies. 27% of Erasmus students meet their long-term partner while on Erasmus. On this basis, the Commission estimates that around one million babies are likely to have been born in Erasmus couples since 1987.
We see this all the time in our daily work here at Kairos Europe. In fact, many of the partners we cooperate with for our projects are couples that either met as participants in Erasmus exchanges or as staff members working on implementing projects.
If you just search online for Erasmus love stories you will find a lot of blog posts and articles describing transnational love stories. Some of them have happy endings, while some of them end with a broken heart, but they all seem to agree that Erasmus is a great opportunity to meet potential soul mates.
So, for today let us celebrate mobility, opportunities and most of all LOVE!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Kairos Europe Team