Love in the context of transnational academic exchanges: Promoting mental health and wellbeing

Rashmi Singla, Ulrike de Ponte

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


Educational and cultural dimensions of transnational academic exchange such as student exchanges, double degree programmes, internships have beenresearched but the romantic dimensions are almost overlooked, especially qualitatively, while Green (EU’s Erasmus study abroad programme is ‘responsible for 1mbabies’, 2014) documents that one-quarter students on Erasmus exchange scheme met their long-term partner while studying abroad.The chapter explores love, with a focus on formation of intimate relations inacademic exchanges in the European settings. The method is case-studies draw from two projects based in Denmark, the first about ethnically intermarried couples(Singla, Intermarriage and mixed parenting: Promoting mental health & wellbeing, crossover love. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) and the second, an ongoing project about LTA (Living Apart Together) transnational couples (Singla & Varma, LAT (LivingApart Together) transnational couples: Promoting mental health and wellbeing,2018), moving beyond ‘methodological nationalism and- conjugalism’.The theoretical framework is Cultural Psychology and foreground is a combination of Narrative Psychology, intersectionality, digital emotional reflexivity, and transnationalism. Moreover, aspects related to figuring out criteria of the exchange situation abroad, which can underpin explaining the high rate of long-term relationships while studying abroad, are included. Those aspects are based on a framework, in which intercultural and developmental psychological findings are linked. The 3–4 case studies are drawn from empirical research with eight couples in thefirst study and 20 couples in the second. The narratives are thematically analysed,whereas two themes regarding participants’ motivation for establishing relationship despite differences and long-term sustaining of the relationship are described in the chapter. Preliminary findings nuance the phenomenon of love in academic exchanges, invoking concepts such as educational homogamy, balancing independence and togetherness, diversities of connectivities intersecting social media and intimacies. Furthermore, the significant others’ support and opposition of these couples’ lovedynamics are covered, along with considerations linked to the concept of theemotional availability (Saunders, Kraus, Barone & Biringen, Frontiers in Psychology,2015) based on Bowlby’s attachment theory and the shared third (Benjamin, Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 73(1), 5–46, 2004). Lastly, ‘good practices for promoting the mental health and wellbeing of such academic exchange couples are delineated along with suggestions for relevant services for those experiencing psychosocial problems.Keywords Love · Academic exchange · Intimate relationship · Narrativepsychology · Educational homogamy · Diversities of connectivities · Emotional availability
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Handbook of Love : Transcultural and Transdisciplinary Perspectives
EditorsClaude-Hélène Mayer, Elisabeth Vanderheiden
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Publication date2021
Pages599- 620
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-45995-6
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-45996-3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Academic exchange
  • intimate relationships
  • Narrativepsychology
  • maintaining connections
  • Educational homogamy · Diversities of connectivities ·
  • Emotional availability
  • Suggestions
  • Preparation
  • The shared third
  • different nationality and belonging

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