“Distance means so little when someone means so much.” – Unknown

I find it uncommon among students to talk about being in a short term “long distance relationship” while studying abroad. Before I left, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether or not my boyfriend and I will stay together while I’m in London. I found the question strange because why would we break up if I’m only going to be gone for three months? I learned that there are couples who actually do that, but my boyfriend and I decided to stay together while I’m away. Three months is the longest time we’ve ever been apart from each other, so it was definitely hard to break away from our hug at the airport. Although this distance is temporary, I think it is important to think about your relationship with your significant other while you study abroad whether it’s for three months, six months, or even one month. Some relationships weaken with distance, but others get stronger. I believe that two people can overcome this challenge if both are willing to put in the same time, effort and love to make the relationship work.

One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is time. Guess what? The world has time zones and the difference from Seattle and London is eight hours. When I’m awake, my boyfriend is asleep and vice versa, so the time we have to talk to each other is limited. I sometimes catch myself getting annoyed at how long it takes him to respond to me, but then I remember we are not in the same time zone and he also has a life at home. It is tough to go from constantly seeing and talking to each other to a few hours of texting back and forth and facetiming every once in a while. One thing that we do to get our minds away from the time difference is to keep ourselves busy. We are currently both in school, so any time spent on homework and/or studying helps. I am constantly doing something here in London, therefore, it is easier for me to keep busy while I wait for my boyfriend to wake up or finish with his classes. Being busy will kill time and getting that “goodmorning” text in the middle of the day always lights me up.

We live in a time in which technology (more or less) dominates our lives. Social media and smartphones especially make it easier to communicate with anyone, anywhere. I am grateful for FaceTime because 1. I don’t have to rack up my phone bill with minutes and 2. looking into each other’s eyes and hearing their voice makes everything feel alright again. It is hard to find time that works for the both of us just because I’m usually busy 10-12 hours a day doing London things, and he has both this personal and school life to live. I also live in a room with two other people so when my boyfriend and I do FaceTime, it has to be a time that works for us all. Usually, neither of my roommates mind since we each do our own thing when we’re laying in bed, but some nights are short depending on what we did that day, so obviously we would be tired and head straight to bed. It’s easier for him to squeeze an hour or two in his day to FaceTime me, which is usually before bed, so that would happen every couple of day or so. Remember that it is okay to not FaceTime every night, or text each other constantly throughout the day just because it isn’t so practical. As much as it kills me, I have learned to be patient and to simply look forward to his name popping up on my lock screen. Time works differently for everyone of course, so it is best to communicate possibly even more than usual with your significant other while abroad.

 

Here are a few things that I like to remember and have helped us these past couple of months:

  • Think of this as an opportunity– instead of thinking the distance is pulling you two apart, view this short term long distance relationship as a test of love for each other. Not a lot of couples go a long period of time away from each other unless you are in a real long distance relationship of course, but treat this time and distance as a measure of how much you two are committed to one another. Like I said earlier, the distance will either weaken or strengthen a relationship.
  • Expectations– be clear and open with each other about what you expect during this time apart. None of you would want to do things that will catch the other person by surprise, so it’s important to talk about these things.
  • Know each other’s schedules– I touched on this a little bit in the last paragraph, but yes, tell each other when you are busy or free so you can text or call at the right time. Know the small and big events in each other’s lives such as midterms/finals, birthday celebrations, job interviews, academic progress etc. This is important especially when living in different time zones.
  • Communicate regularly and creatively– My boyfriend and I like to play those iMessage games with each other (corny, I know), but it’s fun to do things together when you aren’t together, yaknow? Also, sending pictures or short videos of what I am doing or eating makes it more personal rather than him seeing it on Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media platform.
  • Avoid “dangerous” situations– In London, pubs (bars) are a part of the social culture here that my peers and I have partaken in quite regularly. If you know you and a groups of friends are going out drinking or to a nightclub late at night, then telling your significant other ahead of time is imperative. Do not be careless about this matter because your partner will be extremely worried (or suspicious), and of course upset if you put him/her in a position where they feel extra powerless/lacking in control. They won’t be there to take care of you, so you need to be responsible and take care of yourself. Recognize the dangers before entering into a situation.
  • Enjoy your time alone– you might be alone, but you are not lonely (unless you chose to feel like it). You don’t have to let your world revolve around your significant other. Take this time to hang out with friends, family (for the person at home), or find a new hobby.
  • Honesty is the best policy– Talk about your feelings (yes, you have them) of fear, insecurity, jealousy or whatever else. Don’t hide these feelings from your significant other. Let them give you the support you need and this also gives points in the communication category too.
  • Stay positive– Inject positivity in this long distance relationship to keep it alive. Yes, waiting is painful and you will feel lonesome, but just keep reassuring each other. Be grateful that you have someone to love and who loves you back. Be thankful for the little things.

 

There’s my two cents in what I have learned during my time abroad (apart from academics). I hope someone finds this post useful, I know it’s corny and not a lot of people talk about it, but I guess I’m one of the few who do. After rereading my post, this can definitely apply to people who are truly in a long distance relationship, or starting one. If you are studying abroad and in a relationship, remember that not everyone has or takes the chance to do what you are doing. Be proud of yourself for stepping out of your comfort zone and that you are creating these life-long memories and experiences. Each day I am out and about, I always think of my significant other and how he would like to eat crispy pork belly from the street food market, shop around Oxford or Soho, take walks with me along the River Thames, and so much more. Although your partner is not with you now, there is a chance you can do these things together in the future. For now, enjoy your time studying abroad and share your memories and experiences when you get back home.

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