There’s just no denying it, hooking up while studying abroad is for many an exchange student about as high up, if not higher, on the list of priorities as practicing a foreign language. Or at least forms as much a part of the exchange program as anything else. (Now, having done more or less two “exchanges” in one year, trust me, I have eyes and ears, I know…) The time is nigh to grapple with that messy thing, that force that has the power to hoist you up to the dizzying echelons of sky-scraping happiness and also dash your helpless self mercilessly upon the rocks of deepest despair. I am talking, of course, about love.
On exchange, you can be whomever you want; it’s a new start in an entirely different land; you don’t even need to speak your own language (unless you’re an anglophone. No escape there). You can leave behind your old baggage and tired ways and for most people this means a fresh, shiny version of themselves. Who couldn’t fall in love with that? The very friendships you make are intense, they become the adventure, they blow open your mind, inspire you and might just change your life. Now, imagine that but concentrated ten times in the form of a luverr. It’s kind of hard to match that.
Then of course we mustn’t forget the final ingredient to kick things into action and up the ante just that little bit more; the ever-present, pressing and most powerful stimulus: a time limit. No time to be shy, my dearies, no time to take things slow, else before you know it you’ll be packing your suitcases, saddled with the additional and worst possible load: regret. Every second spent together inches toward the final one, every moment ensemble becomes more precious than the last.
There is surely something extra exciting about finding insane chemistry with someone from another country, particularly if it is one that holds an especial fascination for you. There’s the exotic factor of course (cute accents, anyone?), and a sense of wonder at being able to find things in common with someone so different to you. Above all, there’s that desperate, tragedy-tainted, tumultuous blend of feelings that are bred from having too little time and a very unclear picture of your collective near future.
However, what makes it lasting and not just a foreign fling is if those fireworks are paired with a devotion equally as powerful. Loads of people look at romances on exchange as just that: an exchange thing, and that is where a lot of them end. But if it is something you are going to carry on, you have established the ideal precedent for your future. Chances are you had been travelling and adventuring together while abroad; there can’t have been many a dull moment together, no chance to get stuck in a boring routine. As my living like you’re on exchange espoused, if you take that exchange spirit away and keep it alive together, even just a little bit, those sparks shouldn’t be sputtering out any time soon…
Next post: the inevitable continuation and (uh-oh) thorny issue of…. long-distance relationships