Many people have mentioned me their judgments about students going abroad for a semester and immediately finding themselves lovers or partners for life. They have expressed their concerns that “youth nowadays cannot just enjoy life, they must partner up the moment they experience freedom” indicating that they think it’s wrong that people – statistically more frequently young ladies – find foreign men while studying in foreign universities. I’m sure they don’t think it’s wrong to study abroad – they condemn people finding love.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t meet this kind of people every day. I have, though, met them while hitchhiking between Tallinn and Tartu.
Engaging in this kind of topics where one side doesn’t understand another’s behavior always makes me try mediate understanding from both sides.
Why the judgment?
Perhaps these (always a bit older, late 40ies-60ies) people have a different way of life, different past, different culture. When they were young, they couldn’t travel to the Western Europe. After all, I met them all in Estonia. Outlooks for a young person 30 years ago were not as shiny as they are perceived for today’s youth in this country. Also, all of these (3, actually) people with this opinion have been men. Maybe they are jelly that young Estonian women like foreign men, not the silent forgive-my-judgment-socially-anxious Estonian men.
Let’s dig a bit into why Erasmus students end up in relationships so fast. I have discussed the bottleneck in one of my previous posts, describing why limited availability will make you choose the best among the remnants. Let’s observe the relationship dynamics from a different perspective.
Imagine you are a woman from a small place, and you have big dreams, and you are educated. You are young and unpartnered. Considering your background, a person no better than you will not suffice. You know what are your options in your home village/town/city/country. So far, nothing has worked out because of personal mismatch, poor relationship dynamics, or if you’re Estonian, because of social anxieties either of you experiences, or you have been afraid of your relatives’ and strangers’ judgements of you walking hand-in-hand with someone someone somewhere thinks something about. And you or they are afraid of that something that might be thought of either of you and that stops you from freely developing your relationship. The other 10k reasons why it didn’t work at home i won’t focus on here. At home you’re more vulnerable – people know you, remember your life story, and you know your limited choice. Often the choice constraints make women resort to thinking that all the good ones are already taken.
Imagine this background and that woman now leaves to study abroad. Free from strangers’ perceived judgment, new options (more men to get to know who, often, are less socially anxious than Estonians), more stimuli in the environment which makes you in general happier and also more approachable. If you had sad shy men in your life before, it is possible that the first somewhat nicer, happier, relaxed man is going to end up with you at least for some time, maybe not till death do you apart.
Jumping the gun on the first one that seems to suffice – that is what the judgy old farts perceive it to be like. And of course, I bet there are these cases too. And the cases of the bottleneck dynamic. Totally judgable, because “what if it’s not your best option” but at the same time – it’s someone elses life, why feel touched? Let’s just ignore dispositional factors and just see the general possibilities to sum this up.
If your choice is limited, going to a new place where people similar to you from around the world get together raises the concentration of people who might suit together with you, raising the probability of you meeting someone with whom you match well and actually end up together with.
So, if your country has no smart men available to you, go somewhere else.
That applies the other way too, men finding women.
Firgive my decoherency, I’m suffering from post-cuncussion dizziness.