Flashback to freshman year of college, to what feels like an eternity ago, to when I was still coming up with excuses to not study abroad. Finances, distance from friends and family, and unfamiliarity were all major contributors. But a more influential reason for my hesitation (than I want to admit) was my boyfriend from back home.
Our first-year of college was our first year doing long-distance and it was challenging, to say the least. If doing 99 miles of long-distance was difficult, how could we manage over 4,000? At the time, I didn’t want to risk it. To make a very long story short, we made it through our first year of college, and then second, and are now about to hit 6 and 1/2 years together.
So, this post is specifically for those who are considering studying abroad but are hesitant to do so because of a relationship they would potentially have to leave back in the States. I would very outwardly encourage you to GO ABROAD even if the idea of doing a long-distance relationship is terrifying. Not to get too preachy, but a supportive partner will encourage you to pursue the incredible opportunity of studying abroad. If they can’t or the relationship doesn’t last because of your decision to study abroad, it’s time to think about your partner’s priorities.
If you are considering studying abroad while keeping a relationship back at home, here are some tips that I have learned over the past 2 and 1/2 years of doing an LDR:
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Dating long-distance means that you’re losing out on quality time with the person and the comfort of being able to catch up with them during time spent together. When dating LD, each person can quickly get wrapped up in their day-to-day activities and forget to carve out time of their schedule (or travels while abroad) to reach out and catch up with the other person. My boyfriend Josh and I have combatted this by picking 1-2 days each week to Skype for a couple of hours and catch up. It helps make the other person not feel so far away when you can be included in their daily routine.
- Let yourself miss them, but don’t let it consume you. The reality is, being long-distance, for most couples, is not a forever thing. And studying abroad and living in another country is also not a forever thing. It is important to find the balance between soaking in as much as you can while abroad with the knowledge that you will be returning to them sooner than you realize.
- Be flexible. There have been times while in Rome that Josh and I weren’t able to talk via Skype or the phone for over a week and other times when we were able to Skype 3 times a week. Between different schedules, time zones, and countries planned “skype dates” might fall through. However, if you dwell on that, you’ll quickly miss out on the opportunities surrounding you.
Every relationship is going to be different, but hopefully, the general tips help you visualize how manageable dating long-distance while abroad can be. I am excited to go back home to see Josh, but I also am beyond thankful to have been able to pursue the opportunity to study abroad and to experience everything I have over the past 3 months.