Love in the time of classes

In the campus environment where a college can be a city unto itself, it is inevitable that students will become attracted to each other and even fall in love.

Even the pursuit of a higher education cannot stall basic human emotions and needs. Romance is part of the college experience for many students. Many will have one, or several relationships during their college years.

Sometimes a deep attraction can last beyond the cycle of classes and graduation. Facebook recently conducted a study which showed that 28 percent of married college graduates on their website were schoolmates during their college years.

But meeting that special someone in college comes with its own, unique set of challenges. At a transfer school like Santa Monica College, there is always a risk that partners will end up in different schools, or even more daunting, in different cities or states.

In addition SMC has over 3,000 international students. What happens if you fall in love with someone who has to return to their home country? What about the cultural differences?

"Everybody’s taking a different path in life,” said 21-year-old SMC student Echo Theohar who believes that separate plans and life choices may cause problems for couples that meet in college.

SMC student Henric Emdenborg agrees that college couples staying together is not a given however, he believes in love conquering all. Emdenborg and his Korean girlfriend Hyunah met at SMC and have been dating for almost a year. Initally the young lovers had some communication problems, but Hyunah’s English is getting better, and Emdenborg is learning Korean.

They both plan on staying in California and transferring to a university within the state. “College or not, I just think that both people need to have the same interest in staying together,” Emdenborg said.

Even if the relationship doesn’t last forever, college can be a great place to meet a first love.

Two people that are experiencing that thrill are Wendy Alvarez and Brandon Martinez who met three months ago. Alvarez laughs quietly and looks down with a shy gaze when Martinez spoke about their first encounter.

It was through the SMC alumni club that they first met. Neither of the two know much about relationships or what will happen with their own future, but they are enjoying being together for now.

Alexandra Bexell from Sweden also met her boyfriend at SMC. She and Nicolo Zinetti, who is from Italy, became a couple on Valentine’s Day last year, and have been together ever since.

“We’ve been apart for 20 days at most,” Bexell said. She is no longer an SMC student, but came back to the United States on a tourist visa to be near Zinetti.

Their mutual attraction has, for now, erased the artificial lines on the map.

Bexell believes that college romances can work. “But you probably need to have the same values, and maybe not completely different cultural backgrounds that clash,” she said. For her and Zinetti the melding of their cultures has worked.

Bexell believes in having a clear plan in the relationship. She will stay in the U.S. with Zinetti as long as she can, and the two will travel back to Europe together in the summer.

“I absolutely think that I have found the man that I will marry,” said Bexell.

College love, like any other type of romance, might not seem logical or even realistic. It is naive, beautiful and hopeful. Even if the odds are against them, most college students are not going to give up on making their relationships work. The desire to be together, and the ache of being apart, is enough to make some students take a risk and demand the impossible.