Dating and falling in love while studying abroad, whether it be a few weeks or an entire year can be terrifying. I know because I’ve been there and it’s perfectly normal. I fought it for a long time and finally accepting it was the greatest decision I’ve ever made. Yes, you have an finite amount of time together but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make the most of every minute you do have together.
That being said, here’s a few tips I’ve come to after two years of reflection from my own relationship and what I’ve see and heard so many others do during theirs.
1.DON’T FORGET FRIENDS & FAMILY AT HOME.
It’s so easy to get caught up in a new culture, surroundings and your new S.O that you can forget about those you left behind. I’ll admit, I did this and I wish I could undo it. I like to think I’m better at it this time around finding the balance. But also find the balance of those who are studying abroad with you. I’m so lucky to have found Rich but I’m glad I took the time to get to know everyone else in my halls because those girls remain my closest friends and now I can say they’ve honestly witnessed our entire relationship (even when I refused to call it a relationship).
2. DON’T DEFINE YOUR STUDY ABROAD BY YOUR NEW PARTNER.
I like to think I didn’t do this, in fact I probably fought the fact that I was even in a relationship longer than I should have because I watched girls do this and I didn’t want to be them. Yes it’s great you met someone and I know the early stages are fun and sweet and you don’t want to let them go but don’t let them interfere with the short amount of time you have in your host country.
Rich and I met one month into my three and a half month stay in London and dated for the last two months. Yes it was new and yes I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible but I knew that I wanted to do other things too, my life in no way revolved around our relationship (except maybe the last two weeks before I left because reality hit but that’s another story).
3. EXPLORE WHO YOU ARE, BOTH WITH AND WITHOUT THEM.
My study abroad was a huge defining point in life, I learned so much about myself and so much about myself as a commitment-phobe turned relationship person turned long distance girlfriend. Being in a new place without your “group” can be terrifying but it can also be the most enlightening experience. Study abroad is such a great time to explore you and find yourself so don’t spend all your time defining yourself as someone’s S.O. Figure out who you are and remember to just do you!
4. BE COMPLETELY HONEST ABOUT THE SITUATION.
You both need to come to grips that you will be leaving, that’s just a fact but it doesn’t have to stop you. From the beginning I was convinced my relationship would end in December when I went home but we talked and realised that was going to be tough. Falling in love is a wonderful experience and if it’s meant to be, it will be. You might come back you might not but don’t let that stop you from giving it a chance. Chances are if you’re studying abroad you’re in your twenties and you deserve to be young, free and in love. Live in the now and take the leap.
5. HAVE FUN.
Study abroad should be the best time of your life, fun, rewarding and happy. If your relationship is getting in the way of that, step back and reevaluate the situation. Don’t let a S.O. be the only memory you have of your study abroad experience. This is the time to discover you and make life long friends and uncover skills for life.