Educational and cultural dimensions of transnational academic exchange such as student exchanges, double degree programmes, internships have been researched but the romantic dimensions are almost overlooked, especially qualitatively, while Green (2014) documents that one quarter students on Erasmus exchange scheme met their long-term partner while studying abroad.
The chapter explores love, with focus on formation of intimate relations in academic exchanges in the European settings. The method is case-studies drawn from two projects based in Denmark, the first about ethnically intermarried couples (Singla, 2015) and the second, an ongoing project about LAT (Living Apart Together) transnational couples (Singla & Varma, 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 the first 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-turn 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’ love dynamics are covered, along with considerations linked to the concept of the emotional availability (EA, Biringen, 2015) based on Bowlby’s attachment theory and the shared third (Benjamin, 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: academic exchange, intimate relationship, narrative psychology, educational homogamy, diversities of connectivities, emotional availability
|Place of Publication||Switzerland |
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 1 Mar 2021|