Erasmus is an international and dynamic university, filled with people who have origins from all over the world. Moreover, many students come from former international schools and have lived in several cities, even several countries, before moving to Rotterdam. Such diverse backgrounds and the Erasmus environment mean that many cross-border relations exist and that relationships are made up of individuals who each have very unique and meaningful traits. So how does one navigate in a relationship across cultures? Current Erasmus students will help you with understanding just that.
When dating, it is rare that your complete set of values corresponds exactly with that of your partner. This is even more so the case when dating across cultures, which is why communication is no longer just key but merely essential for a successful relationship. As the Erasmus student Talita, says, “you need to constantly talk to each other”, as you cannot assume what the other person thinks. You have to leave your assumptions behind and really listen to what your partner tells you, as your culturally coded ideas might not be the same. Talita adds that it is important to leave the stereotypes you have about the other’s culture and country behind, and simply “really understand the way they are, without stereotypes”, as these presumed ideas can make you “not as willing to understand each other”.
You might think that such a mixture of possible disagreements, misunderstandings, and wrongly implied meanings is the perfect cocktail for a fight. You might be right. Erasmus students that date across cultures all acknowledge that it can be very challenging and tiring, and that arguments stemming from culturally different expectations and ideas do occur. Yet, they all state how rich it is in learning and how giving it is, showing that it is worth it. Partly because it allows them to learn new languages, travel to visit family and friends in different places, and eat new food. Moreover, it “adds to the relationship as you get different outlooks on life” Talita expresses.
The Erasmus student Mara points out how; “it’s really sometimes a mix of 3 languages” when she communicates with her partner, and it seems that others can agree. This brings with it the possibility to have funny and personal inside jokes that are a combination of all the languages each person speaks. It is almost like creating a new language together, with a vocabulary that consists of words, idioms, and colloquialisms from different countries. A collection of bizarre sayings that only you and your partner fully understand.
To end up with such a personal language; investing in each other’s culture and being curious are core attitudes that one needs to adapt. This will, according to Mara, teach you “about patience, making fewer presumptions, and asking more questions to clarify”. Once again, highlighting how communication really is more than key, as you need to ask to know. The Erasmus student Liza mentions how she sometimes conducts a little “research about his country of origin” to really understand. Mara similarly says that “it’s immensely interesting to dig a little bit deeper, compare and contrast how differently we grew up”, which keeps her to be continuously interested. In the end, “a lot of the things that make a relationship different are just different personality factors”, and about that, Talita is right.
“Be ready to learn a lot and never stop doing so”, is the ultimate advice from Liza to anyone who is interested in dating someone from another culture or who is currently doing so. Dating across borders is a continuous journey that will enrich you with experiences and new inputs to life. With your partner, you will be able to create your own small and refined culture, by picking the best and most important aspects from all the worlds combined.
Author: Monique Veni Jørgensen
Editor: Phoebe Elliott
Visuals by: Gabi Olenicz