“What do you want from your Year Abroad? – A husband!”


By Will Holmes, Second year, French, Italian and Spanish

Looking for love on your year abroad? Chances are you'll be in luck... Will Holmes explains how the Erasmus program has encouraged European integration.

… and then Pablo scooped me up in his firm, sun-kissed arms, with his sparkling green eyes and that sweet Salamanca smile and… it was all just a dream! Or was it?

In 2014, the EU Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou announced that since the conception of the Erasmus program in 1987, around 1 million Erasmus babies had been born. Over the same period 27% of Erasmus students met their long-term partner on their Year Abroad.

But surveys on more recent cohorts of Erasmus students suggest that the number is increasing to around a third.

Meanwhile researchers at the University of Bath teamed up with celebrity mathematician Rachael Riley in 2017 to figure out the chances of finding love in the UK. The results were far from encouraging. The chances of finding love on any given day in the UK is 1 in 562 for the average UK citizen.

But being at university does radically improve those statistics. Surveys have shown that around 20% of students meet their future long-term partner at university.

Unsplash / 5tep5

Recently Dr Ian Foster, the University of Bristol’s Year Abroad Officer, asked the 150 students attending the final Year Abroad preparatory lecture what his audience wanted the most from their Year Abroad.

Overwhelmingly (and to much amusement) the most popular response was “a husband”.

Students at the University of Bristol however are not the only ones who feel this way. In 2011, the Italian novelist Umberto Eco lauded the creation of the “first generation of young Europeans” as a result of the Erasmus program.

Mr Eco continued to describe the Erasmus program as a “sexual revolution”. He explains: “a young Catalan man meets a Flemish girl – they fall in love, they get married and they become European, as do their children. The Erasmus idea should be compulsory – not just for students, but also for taxi drivers, plumbers and other workers. By this, I mean they need to spend time in other countries within the European Union; they should integrate.”

The Erasmus program hence appears to have been successful in developing European integration beyond even the EU’s wildest dreams. Students seem to disregard the struggles of long-distance relationships, rendered a less important factor with the popularisation of social media over the last decade.

Another contributing factor is the decreasing price of inter-European flights, making European cohesion feel like a tangible reality. Whilst Heathrow airport saw the most passengers (just over 80 million) out of any European airport in 2018, Bristol airport was the 59th most popular, with a 5.5% increase since 2017 (8.7 million passengers).

So, is the aspiration of finding love on the Year Abroad so laughable?

Featured Image: Evertonvila / Unsplash

Have you found love on your year abroad? Let us know!

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Will Holmes

Digital Travel Editor | Former Editor of SPA award-winning publication La Civetta | Case Law Editor for The Student Lawyer | Digital Content Executive for LittleLaw