Are the Europeans couch potatoes?

"Martin, I love you. Semester abroad is shit, Erasmus stinks." Inscription on door at ladies' toilet at airport, Frankfurt-Hahb

"Martin, I love you. Semester abroad is shit, Erasmus stinks." Inscription on door at ladies' toilet at airport, Frankfurt-Hahn

Everybody is talking about how good it is that Europe demolishes borders and that everybody can get mobile. Isn’t this mobility rather a possibility than a fact? I have been to Frankfurt-Hahn’s Ryanair Airport this weekend and I stumbled upon this very interesting inscription in the ladies’ bathroom. This poor girl feels forced to do an Erasmus year abroad, she rather wants to stay at home, in Germany, with her boyfriend. This is understandable, it is human. If we read statistics, less than half of the European citizens think that mobility is something positive. They probably rather stay at home and watch tv – or go online. Or go to bed. Or talk to their neighbours. One would think. But no: A recent study by the New Economics Foundation, a think tank in the UK, found out that the feeling of trust and belonging, including how close one feels to one’s neighbours, was not very common in Europe.

Scandinavian countries were - as usual - the top performers on overall well-being, whilst Central and Eastern European countries display the lowest well-being. Trust and well-being, important for citizen engagment, was highest in Norway and lowest in the UK, Bulgaria and the Ukraine. Germany features very badly with supportive relationships - and so do Hungary and Slovenia. So it is understandable, that this girl rather wants to stay with Martin than meet other emotionally unstable Europeans abroad.

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7 Responses to “Are the Europeans couch potatoes?”

  1. Beatriz says:

    Really nice! I loved your style!

  2. Nanne Nanne says:

    Going abroad is a real strain on relationships. I wasn’t in one when I did my Erasmus, but I’ve seen and heard. You can also go for one semester, which is probably better if you’re in a serious relationship.

    Nobody should feel ‘forced’ to go on an Erasmus. But students will be told that international experience is necessary for their CVs. That’s a strain the market puts on them.

    From personal experience, though, most erasmus students greatly enjoy their stay. The erasmus network also has some stats (pdf) on that, according to which 65% is ‘very satisfied’ and another 28% are ‘rather satisfied’.

  3. Tanja says:

    A very interesting post! Acrually I was always wondering if people really want to “taste another country” or it is just trendy and fashionable…I just know that if you start and like it, it’s hard to stop :D

  4. Matthias matthiaswitt says:

    I “tasted” another country, loved it, and it had no negative impact on my relationship whatsoever… and, at the risk of being provocative: I think there are quite a few things the “international markets” try to force on us that have far more severe consequences than a semester abroad!

  5. Nikola RICHTER Nikola says:

    I personally think that going abroad is much fun and also makes you learn a lot about yourself and about your home country. @Nanne: Interestingly enough, the study you mentioned tells us that Erasmus students do not really think their stay abroad enhances their studies! Mostly you start new relationships and friendships abroad, Auberge Espagnole-stlye, which of course is great. Still, I often have the feeling that you can be very international by not even leaving your sofa, just watching 300 tv channels. And as we can see now with the demonstrations in Great-Britain against foreign workforces in Lindsey: People seem to want to keep amongst themselves. This is dangerous, I think.

  6. [...] of borders within Europe is much talked about, and opinions spread from outward enthusiasm over healthy scepticism all the way to outward pessimism (the author is not responsible for the content of the linked [...]

  7. Funny she writes to Martin on the ladies’ toilet ;-)