Tartu is known as a city of good thoughts and an excellent start-up environment, but have you ever thought about it as a city of love?

When you look through cute posts about Erasmus or Degree-seeking experiences in the University of Tartu, everyone usually mentions that it’s more about people and unique personalities they have met.

Networking here isn’t just an option or one of the matter-of-facts tasks, it’s an opportunity to find your soulmates for life.

To celebrate Estonian Friendship Day and Saint Valentine’s Day inspired by the Main Square Symbol Kissing Students Fountain, I decided to interview 14 successful couples who met or are living in Tartu to answer the famous question:” What is love?”And the answers are heart-melting, so a lot of babes definitely will be hurt by the charm of these stories.

1.Demi Avaliani (Georgia 🇬🇪) and Liene Priede (Latvia 🇱🇻 )

We come from countries with different cultures and mentalities. Due to that, we faced extra difficulties than it might have had in a normal case. Because of that, we were telling each other, as our motto, “me and you against the world”. But, because of the cultural differences, we also had to be extra accepting and patient. We believe that love is when another person’s happiness makes you happier than your own would. And also when you are ready to give everything for that person.

2.George Spencer Terry (USA 🇺🇸) and Ginevra Orti Manara (Italy 🇮🇹)

Love is knowing that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone from the first moment you met.
We first met when Ginevra was on her Erasmus here in Tartu two and a half years ago, and one thing lead to another…

3.Konsta Rauhala (Finland 🇫🇮) and Alexandra Martynova (Ukraine 🇺🇦)

Well … It is a bit difficult to describe what love is, but we know for sure that love makes people stronger and weaker at the same time. It makes you feel really happy, but sometimes you are really close to kicking someone’s ass.  Love is a feeling when you want to take care of the other person, and you feel the other person like you are the one, who is happy, sad or living the best times of your lifetime.

You feel both happy and sad sometimes. It means that you are ready to conquer the world together and it brings the best out of each other when doing so. Ultimately, it means that you realize that you are living the best days of your life.

4.Kevin Chavanne (France 🇫🇷) and Iryna Krepchuk ( Belarus 🇧🇾)

In my opinion, it is a very complicated question, because the concept of love for me will definitely differ from that of any other person. Moreover, it is such a philosophical and intangible question, that I find it extremely difficult to come up with the answer, as there is something much greater than some sentences written in black and white. Nevertheless, if I needed to come up with 5 words to describe love, these would probably be the most appropriate:


To me, this word expresses the best the feeling I would associate with love. I believe it is crucial to share the same vibe with a person you spend most of your time with. There are no worries and inner disturbances, as you feel in harmony with yourself and the outside world. You feel light, therefore you feel good. This feeling is so important to me, and I feel so thankful for having a chance to relax and “breathe out” once I come home, where I find this balance.   


Love is all about giving without expecting anything back. While loving somebody, you’re ready to give up everything you have to make the dearest person to you happy. Obviously, I am not speaking only from a materialistic point of view. Love is also about energy exchange. You share all kind of emotions with your partner, whether it is happiness, sadness, anxiety, excitement and anything else you could feel. In fact, no emotional borders exist as you are interconnected with one another, which leads to you understanding your partner on the whole other level.


With all the exchange of emotions mentioned above comes the responsibility of mutual support. At difficult times, you know you can rely on your beloved one and in return, they can rely on you. In fact, there is no judgement on one’s feelings or actions, as you always do your best to understand the situation and help one another as much as you can. However, I find it even more important to be there in good times as well, supporting each other’s victories, beginnings, crazy ideas, and dreams. For me, support is love.

“Trust & Transparency”

You have the ultimate trust in that person. You trust his actions and decisions. You are confident that this person won’t let you down, therefore you feel secure and safe. Moreover, there is nothing to hide, which includes both your actions and your thoughts. The loved person is the one with who you can be yourself and to who you can open your mind. The true love lets you express your feelings, deepest concerns, fears; you can say anything you want and be sure that he will listen to you.


Finally, true love is about having fun. So much fun that your smile never leaves your face and your laughter rings every single day. There is nothing more to add to it – you simply feel happy. Love is great.

5.Luca Alfieri (Italy 🇮🇹) and Katerina Bogdanova (Russia 🇷🇺)

For us love is making each other better every day but not by imposing changes. We learn from each other and together get to know something new. We help each other, even when one of us is not in a good mood. If you love someone, you are ready for almost anything. Love is to get dissolved in each other lives, preserving your personality. Love is deep respect. Love is the best feeling.

6.Jonathan Hippe (Germany 🇩🇪) and Elisa Russu (Moldova 🇲🇩)

I think we all agree that love is a beautiful feeling that makes you wanna do crazy things you would never dare to do. However, international love can be even crazier: it has another level of challenges and commitments (for example moving to another country), because, in comparison with an average couple, we started with a long-distance relationship, and our biggest challenge was to make it shorter.

Since 2017 we were trying to make the best out of our situation and always keep each other into our daily life by sustaining regular communication regardless of the distance and time shifts between us. In addition to this, there is the small difference between our cultures, and understanding the significance of accepting it, was highly important for maintaining a healthy relationship; also as setting golden rules like “Best beer is Bavarian beer!” OR “Best wine is Moldovian wine!” (Highly recommended to follow the rules for the safety of your life). However, while time passes, it also comes the understanding that loving somebody is most of the time, not enough. To make it real, it is necessary to love the person you are in the moments when you are together. Discovering the best version of yourself is one of the miracles that can happen between two people.

To keep it short, love can be crazy and beautiful at the same time. It’s a feeling that goes in one step with the Respect, and indubitably, has the test of Moldovian wine in combination with Bavarian Obazda.

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7.Denis Kovalenko (Ukraine 🇺🇦) and Elizaveta Lebedeva (Russia 🇷🇺)

We met during our first days in Tartu at one of the startup events. And since then, we’ve been together through homeworks, hackathons, traveling through 14 countries, and now we’re working in the same company.

For us, love is about respecting and supporting each other. Creating experiences and having adventures. Having the freedom to be ourselves and be better persons at the same time. And preparing lunches for each other

8.Gio Gogiashvili (Georgia 🇬🇪) and Tatia Kakhadze (Georgia 🇬🇪)

It’s not easy to actually answer what is love as love is perceived and felt differently by different couples. For us, love started many years ago. We have been studying at the same school in the same class. He was 12 years old when he told me that he loves me and I remember I became angry because I didn’t expect it. But after many years passed, we became friends with each other and this friendship turned into love. Love is real when you can enjoy staying together and at the same time give each other space for improvement, love is when you can support each other and stay strong in difficult situations. Love is when you take care of each other. Love is when you love someone and actually don’t know reasons why you just want to stick to this person for the rest of your life.

9.Federico Bellentani (Italy 🇮🇹) and Darya Arkhipova (Russia 🇷🇺)

Daria: Talking about love is difficult, because love is what you feel, what you live, not the words.
But as once it was wisely said, love is impossible without dedication. I say this story to all my friends, but one day I woke up in Tartu, and it was rather rainy and grey day-so ordinary Tartu, but I realized that I would like to see Fede happy every day, and no one would do it better than me. So love is also a responsibility. And most of all, it’s about sharing. And I am blessed to have a chance, also thanks for to Tartu and university programme of exchange, to meet a person from another part of the world, with who I share so much and would love to share my life.
– Amore, and what is love for you?
For me love is you. But I’ll tell that: love is to be interested, that etymologically comes from inter + else being within. I am within the beloved, her mind, her soul, her problems, her opportunities, her smiles and her tears. Being always there when my beloved needs me and beyond.

10.Volodymyr Panov (Ukraine 🇺🇦) and Diana Savytskaya (Ukraine 🇺🇦)

Diana: Love is everything that was written down in ‘Love is..’ gums. It is the best way to get a true BFF. Love is something that gives you the strength to move heaven and earth or provide support during difficult moments. For sure, love gives us more than just a life partner, but a friend and a new family member as well.

Last but not least, love is not only about taking but about giving something back. To love means to be ready to share your feelings, time, thoughts – everything. At some point, love is an endless studying course during which you get to know yourself and your life partner.

For Volodymyr love is a feeling of certainty and spiritual connection when we finish each other’s sentences and have our own internal words, phrases and jokes. Still, love isn’t just about emotions, feelings and physical comfort, but it is also an ongoing intellectual debate. It is great to have a life partner whose objections to some of my positions help to rethink personal views.

11.Eduardo Torres (Mexico 🇲🇽) and Guillermo Chàvez García (Mexico 🇲🇽)

On the Nature of Love

When I started dating Guillermo I quickly noticed something was different with him. Something was different with me, also. Up to that moment I have had a series of intense, very passion-driven (but usually short-lived) affairs. I had become almost perversely self-conscious about my love life and interests. I was a thrill-seeker, an emotional hustler fascinated by youth. In the wise words of Alanis Morissette, I was a “supposed former infuatuation-junkie” terribly in love with the idea of being in love. Because love is a powerful emotion: at times irrational, uncontrollable, merciless. And sometimes it can be so liberating to stop feeling in control, to be, literally, possessed by love. I was somehow addicted to that feeling.

But then I found him. Or maybe he found me. Maybe we found each other.

We met at an existential cross-road -oh, I love those-. He had just moved from Mexico City to my city. I had just graduated from college and was polishing my dissertation in order to move to Mexico City where a very nice job offer was waiting for me. Our encounter could have been no more than an awful timing: nothing but two people walking along the sidewalk on opposite directions. But we wanted more. And we were stubborn. Thank God we have always been.

If it wasn’t for his maturity none of this would have happened. If he wasn’t so wise beyond his years I wouldn’t have been able to control myself. If it wasn’t for his attention I wouldn’t have been successful. And if he wasn’t for him we would never have amounted to very much.

He was so very different from me. He has had always this way of moving through life as he had always been there, so deeply grounded on his confidence in himself and others. His unbreakable, ever smiling spirit was a joyful mystery to my constantly anxious eyes. His upbeat, light-hearted presence was a bright novelty for me, the self-professed lover of all things sad.

We had decided to just hang out for the last couple of months before me leaving for Mexico City. No strings attached. No commitment. No pressure. No compromise. We would spend our weekends locked up in his bedroom watching the whole of Neon Genesis Evangelion or listening to classical concerts; we would order KFC and just talked naked about politics or philosophy for hours, for he could see the world in so many bright new colours. He showed me a way of engaging with life that was completely brave and honest. It was all different. There was no rush with him. No doors being slammed. No unattainable promises. No drama. No lost control. No self-consuming passion. But there was peace. There was hope. There was gratitude. There was a sense of home I had never felt in my life.

One night we were drinking in his flat when he suddenly started singing Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Disney’s Tarzan film. And that was everything. That was all. There was such a wholeheartedness about it, about him. That night I felt an unlimited tenderness towards him that made me realise that I wanted to remain by his side. I knew I wanted to take care of him. That I would stay with him. And so I did.  

That night I left his place drunk and happy. I remember myself listening to U2’s “Miss Sarajevo” and thinking about him on the Uber home. That song got stuck with me since. It has absolutely no further connexion to our story except perhaps that it was playing while I was leaving his flat. But there is a sense of quiet nostalgia about it and also a feeling of hopefulness, of belonging, that will always make me  think of him.

That was two years and a half ago. With him I have learned that love can be much more than a feeling, much more than an emotion. Real love is also a decision. The decision to stay with someone. To be with someone. To be for someone. With the huge responsibility that it implies. It is a commitment, an openness, a willingness to share a history, to have the courage and the trust to share a life with someone. It is a frightening thing to do. To abandon the comfort of our own solitude. To give ourselves to others. It can be, indeed, a terrifying thing to do, for there is no insurance for it, no safe net, no reset button. True love is a giving of the self. So, in that sense, love is a gift, too. Perhaps the most precious one.

When Guillermo saw me for the first time I was in full traditional Estonian costume singing and performing with a group of Estonian folk dancers. That summer, after a month-long tour with this group that brought my inner Estonian back to life, I made the choice to move back to Estonia as soon as I could. Two years later I did. And I brought him with me. I decided to share with him what I considered to be my most valuable, personal and cherished experience: my life in Estonia. We gave to each other a common memory and a shared hope. I wouldn’t be here without him.

12.Adriano Augusto (Italy 🇮🇹) and Mia Prokopiv (Ukraine 🇺🇦)

Love is something different for everyone. Remember the chewing gums “Love is…” with hundreds of continuations of such a simple phrase. Maybe that’s why a perfect definition would never exist. We all feel it different, beautiful but a bit unexplainable.
Love is when any moment can become better with the presence of your person.
Love is when seeing his/her face can make the corners of your lips rise into a little smile.
Love is when you share your real and sometimes strange self and embrace all the little oddish sides of him/her.

13.Czarek Fiołna (Poland 🇵🇱) and Kristina Orlova (Estonia 🇪🇪)

Love is just exactly this feeling which lives inside us since we met. We met more than one year ago in Tartu. Since then, we are always together.
Love is happiness, some special power which inspires, motivates and gives energy. Love is something which has the ability to create. It creates harmony, peace, confidence and in our case, also a family.
Love is the feeling of confidence you feel even though you are separated by hundreds of kilometres. Love is when you can make the most important and toughest decisions without hesitation because you simply want to be together. And also what we experienced during our time in Tartu is that love is what you cannot predict and imagine, but as soon as you will experience it, you will exactly know what hit you. Love is the ability to say sorry whenever you are not right. And a feeling of emptiness you experience while missing your partner. Do not look for love, do not chase it, it will find you in the least expected moment.

14. Mark Mets (Estonia 🇪🇪) and Mariam Nozadze (Georgia 🇬🇪)

Love is when you enjoy even the most casual, simple everyday life with somebody. It’s all about being encouraged and inspired not only for some bigger events that happen in our life, –  like visiting new countries, travelling, professional success or planning for the future, but also just enjoying the most boring things of daily life. Mark and I live like that and it’s fun and inspiring for both of us.

…and when you forgive being woken up in the middle of the night. Repetitively.


There could have been more international students mentioned and their deadlines but they didn’t decide which hard-working photo to choose.

Anyway, Love is the most human emotion, which couldn’t be limited by just in “2 soulmates” thing, it’s wide and complicated but the most inspiring and warm option to make the person’s life fulfilled.

One example of such controversial love is Anastasiia Popova(🇺🇦) and her thesis (🇪🇪)

The process of writing a thesis is as complex and responsible as finding somebody you want to elaborate on a relationship. In both cases, I am quite picky, thus the first stage of my love story could be dubbed Bermuda triangular because I was lost in the topics to pick for my work. Indeed, I felt it was completely impossible to find a topic that is feasible to conduct within a limited timeframe and resources, as well it was troublesome to select something heart-appealing that could hold my interest to it within a year. So I found the topic and it brought me to the second stage of our controversial relationship – defending my love in front of everyone. I literally had to fight for my topic, convince my supervisors, colleges, and even myself that I can handle it and that it was worth it. It was a time of ups and downs: I was devastated and enchanted at the same time. Every time I met obstacles, I had a doubt and temptation to quit it all but I still somehow found strengths to proceed with my work.
I am still working on my thesis and, to be honest, I have an abusive, so to speak, relationship with this piece of work. Sometimes I yell at it and call it my worst nightmare that cost me more than it really is; sometimes it blows my mind up when I can’t find a decent justification of my thought in the literature. At the same time, we both know that we need each other: I need my thesis to obtain my Master’s and prove to myself that I have a strong will, the thesis needs me to become visible to others and to trigger an important discussion among the scientific and policy world. It is a thorny path at the end of which I will be relieved and grateful for this experience.

Have a nice 14th of February!