Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
When preparing to go abroad for the semester, and still even now that I’m in Europe, my friends and acquaintances repeatedly pose to me the question, “What are you two going to do?”
What are we going to do about what? I have always wondered what exactly makes college students think that going abroad is a dead-end for relationships, that staying together is simply implausible. The moment I would mention my travel plans to a friend or an acquaintance, I would almost always receive in return a face of pure pity and concern. Picture someone with his or her head tilted to the side, forehead wrinkled, furrowed brows and eyes wide open, ferociously similar to the face of a sad puppy, looking at me as if someone had died... What are you two going to do? Granted, my significant other and I started out as a long-distance couple, he residing in Vermont and I in California, so we adapted to the time apart. The possibility of splitting up because of a mere three to four months apart had not yet crossed my mind. But, for the majority of college students preparing themselves to study abroad, what makes going abroad synonymous with splitting up? Let’s start with the most commonly used excuses:
It’s too hard, you know, doing the distance thing… Maintaining a relationship in the same city, let alone in the same school is not easy per se. Relationships are hard work, despite the time apart. It’s a given that long-distance relationships require a stronger degree of communication and patience, but saying it’s too hard is just saying you’re not willing to put in the work to keep it going. Sometimes things go smoothly, and other times you absolutely want to kill each other, like when you see pictures on Facebook of your other half partying and acting real foolish, or when finding a time slot to Skype that suits each of your schedules according to the time difference becomes way more complicated than it needs to be. Disagreements and arguments are inevitable. Sometimes you miss each other so much that it hurts. But at least you have someone you can miss. That shouldn’t keep a couple from giving long-distance a shot.
I want to be able to fully immerse myself—to experience the culture without ties back home... I mean, you’re studying abroad, which means you’re living in a foreign country. How does having a boyfriend or girlfriend back in the States inhibit you from experiencing the culture of the foreign country in which you’re currently residing? How much you learn about the culture and how much you immerse yourself in it depends on how hard you try to experience new things, to go out of your way and get to know locals, to participate in different events and visit key monuments. Unless, of course, by saying you want to fully immerse yourself in the culture you really mean you want to party and meet new people without ties back home, then that’s a different story. If that’s the case, you might as well cut ties. The area code rule shouldn’t apply in real life. Just because you’re in a different area code doesn’t mean everything goes.
Maybe you’re afraid of change. Maybe your relationship is in its beginning stages and you’re unsure whether it’s mature enough for the long-distance commitment. Maybe you want to keep open the possibility of meeting someone new abroad. Whatever the case may be, if you’re on the fence about staying together while abroad, just give it a try. Don’t make excuses, especially if they’re for selfish reasons on either end. If your significant other really wants what’s best for you, he or she will respect the fact that studying abroad is a great opportunity and should want you to have that unique experience. Despite what you hear from other Boston College students, there is hope. My boyfriend and I are by no means a perfect couple, but we’re working together as a team. The distance, while tough, has made us stronger, and once I get back home, seeing him will make it all worth it. All you really need is love and trust, and the rest will fall into place.