When preparing to study abroad in London, I was concerned with packing the essentials, knowing that my classes were in order, that I knew how to convert the dollar into the pound and who I would be sharing a flat with. The day of my trip I thought I was ready, everything on my list was checked off and I had said my goodbyes to my best friends, boyfriend and family. I was ready for my adventure and was not turning back.
What I didn’t expect was to miss my loved ones as much as I did. I found myself longing for the people I had left behind and wondering what they were doing back at home and on campus. And the different time zones we were in made it even harder to contact my friends and family.
I have since fallen into a routine, figured out how to contact my loved ones and with their support, have begun to enjoy my experience. However, as Valentine’s Day approaches, I cannot help but think about the one person I am separated from in particular – my boyfriend.
There are many students studying abroad who are in my shoes. There are those couples who spend hours upon hours video chatting and those other couples that have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy and many who find themselves somewhere in between. I find myself somewhere in between.
My boyfriend and I are not the type to be constantly video chatting but at the same time, a don’t ask, don’t tell policy is not right for us. It’s been a challenge, but we have found that making sure to talk on the phone or via video chat once a day feels right.
The thing that I have found the most comfort in is sharing my abroad experience with my boyfriend in creative ways. With my phone, I have been able to send him photos of myself at the places I am visiting and even parts of my day-to-day routine – he especially loved seeing a photo of my favorite sandwich at the café I have become a regular at.
I have also found joy in sending postcards via the regular mail from my favorite sites. I even sent him some chocolates from my favorite chocolate shop in London so he could have a taste of what I have been raving about.
The biggest challenge by far has been balancing my personal life with my new life abroad. There have been times when all I have wanted to do was lie around and spend time on video chat. However, I have made it a personal goal to force myself to not miss out on any part of my experience. Instead of coming straight back to my flat after class, I started exploring different parts of the city.
I consider myself very lucky in the fact that my boyfriend has supported my semester abroad. Having had his own experience abroad in Hong Kong, he understands how important it is for me to immerse myself in the culture. He constantly does research about different places I should visit and helps me find the best hotel and flight deals for trips I plan. He has sat on the phone with me as I expressed my concerns and anxiety about being in a new environment as well as listened to me go on for hours about how much I love the city and all that it has to offer.
The only advice I can give to people like me who are missing someone at home is to find a way to bring that special person into your experience. Knowing that your loved ones back home are a part of your semester will give you the best of both worlds.