August 2nd is Qixi Festival (Chinese Valentines Day). Love and marriage can become an issue for students going abroad. Some couples will find a way to keep things together no matter what and face the future together, others will give up with a sigh and continue their search.
How hard is it for students abroad to understand themselves?
One student named Alex, who is working on his PhD in Math while abroad, calculated that the probability of finding a girlfriend in one year of study abroad is 17.1%. Using Bayesian statistics, he found the probability of marrying this girlfriend is just 5.6%.
An investigation of over 3000 study abroad returnees entitled Large-Scale Investigation of Students Returning from Study Abroad shows those studying abroad were most distressed by “emotional isolation”. National and high-level Psychological Counsellor Zhou Xiaopeng explained, “100% of study abroad students counseling cases involve experiences with romance while abroad. They all meet with dissatisfactory results in the end, this is the common characteristic of many study abroad romances. I think in large part this is because their love is built on the “drawbridge effect”. That is, in dangerous environments, people will have the incorrect physiological reactions, which leads to easier arousal of intimate feelings. “For all study abroad students, getting used to a foreign country and culture is doubtlessly being thrown into a dangerous environment. This environment might also produce misdirected romances out of the psychological need to avoid danger.” Dr. Zhou admits, most such romances fail in the end.
Geographical loss of gender balance makes finding love even harder
The gender ratio of Chinese studying abroad is skewed in areas of foreign countries with highly developed technology sectors. In fact, at many schools on the East Coast of the US, there are more females studying abroad in business, arts, and literature departments. Most males going abroad for MAs and PhDs study engineering, and they are generally introverted and unwilling to actively pursue [relationships]. Often, When compared with the openness and humor of foreign men, girls find their attentions shifting.
Zhu Yuezeng, a medical doctor who has been in the US for 9 years, has attended matchmaking activities in the Washington D.C. area with twice as many females in attendance as males. He says that many of these girls couldn’t find partners in the area, and that they often choose to move to California or other areas with more men rather than going back to their home countries. “Actually, it’s not hard for a woman to get married in the US, and few return to China. Since their standards are high, and they’d have to compete with other Chinese women [in China], their chances for success there are too low, not as good as staying in America.” Plus, marriage is a fast way for female students abroad to get the proper status and a Green Card.
Can love survive the 10,000 KM trip across the Pacific?
For many studying abroad, moving tens of thousands of miles is an even greater struggle than a long-distance relationship. But there are those whose love has endured. Yvonne and Lee have been together for four years, you could say it was love at first sight, and they hadn’t been apart a day since. Now they’ve decided to apply to study at the same school in New York– Adelphi University. They are lucky, and we wish them all the best, at the same time hoping that their four years of love can stand the test of living in a foreign environment. Maybe it will make their love even stronger.
Wu Hao and his girlfriend got to know each other at UDM, the stress of study abroad causing them to tell each other everything about themselves. With time, their feelings grew, and they started dating. Even though they graduated, Wu Hao moved to his girlfriend’s hometown after returning to China so that they could support one another. “Actually, love is taking care of one another, but in a foreign country, this feeling is intensified. We looked after each other more at that time… that was when we really experienced mutual dependency,” said Wu Hao. “I see her as part of my life now, and I only feel the warmth of home where she is.”
Date of publication: August 1, 2014