When you’re with the right person, having a boyfriend feels a lot like “finding your other half.” An over- romanticized notion, sure, but I’m someone lucky enough to understand the true meaning behind the cliche. When he’s the one, being with him is just a great addition to the type of support you need to continue being you. For some ladies, “being you” means stepping outside of your comfort zone by studying abroad.
Universities and colleges offer International Study programs and exchanges all over the globe, allowing women from all over the world to immerse themselves in a global culture that is entirely new. Studying abroad is all about leaving your comfort zone, and it is mostly a positive thing until we come to a few sensitive topics, one of them being your relationship with your boyfriend.
If he knows this a dream you’re always had, a program pertaining heavily to your major, or simply something you feel like doing, then he will support you. If he’s not texting you a reminder not to forget your passport or asking you if you need to do some last-minute shopping before the trip, run for the hills. Remember what I mentioned earlier about him being the right “right person?” If he isn’t supporting you, than he isn’t that guy. I am absolutely 110% saying that if your boyfriend sees your going, or even just thinking about going abroad as a personal attack on him or your relationship, dump him. Do it right now. Do it before you hop that plane. You only can carry 44 pounds of baggage on international flights anyway.
When you’re going abroad, one thing you need to be transparent about it how much you want to do what you’re doing- not why you’re doing it. You shouldn’t have to justify yourself to anyone for entertaining your own desires. If your boyfriend can’t see the value study abroad holds without you telling him, forget him.
Now, once we’ve weeded out what we need to, go to this oh- so- great and supportive guy and plan something special to do together before you leave. Unfortunately, time zones and Internet capabilities aren’t always as good as they are in the States, so give each other a little FaceTime IRL and some TLC before the big departure. Yes, it’s totally going to hurt so much when you go from seeing each other 24/7 to twice a weeks on Skype sprinkled in with some short phone calls, but being together now will be better than nothing later.
Once you’re there (wherever that is), this is the part that both you and your boyfriend need to pay attention to being gentle. Some of you are going to feel like that other half just got violently ripped from yours and thrown across the sea never to be seen again for some over-dramatic period of time. Others of you will handle the culture shock and separation better than that. This part all depends on what kind of couple you guys are- and that’s up to you to decide how much gentleness you need when talking to each other.
I say “gentleness” because one or both of you might not let on how much you miss one another for fear of ruining the semester for the study abroad-er. However, both guys and girls have a tendency, no matter how close they are as BF, GF & BFFs, to get a little worried about how and with whom all this free time will be spent. In the interest of full disclosure and minimal drama, it might be worthwhile to discuss these concerns face-to-face and in a non- accusatory way before you go(and again when you get there). Now more than ever, you thinned- out lines of communication need to be open if you want the smoothest sailing possible over the course of the next few months. Along the way you might decide that this long- distance stint is not for you, and that’s totally normal and okay. The best thing to do at that juncture is just be honest about the split(and give explanations only if you feel the need to) and be ready to mend if need be when you come home. Remember, study abroad is an experience uniquely for you over anyone else.
If having that boyfriend long-term is what’s good for you, then take care of each other. Care for each other will come in different ways than you’re used to at home. Maybe it’s a postcard sent from an exotic land, or maybe it’s waking up at 3 am his time just to say “Good Night” to you. Sometimes, it’s just letting you enjoy site seeing and texting you when it’s over is as way of showing respect for your decision to study abroad. If you’re really lucky, he buys a ticket and sees you over your next break.
Just because you’re abroad, it doesn’t mean that staying with your boyfriend is impossible. It only means that if you want it, you work on it together. Love transcends all things- distance included, and when you love yourself and see that you deserve to see the world, he will see it too. If he doesn’t, it’s not love.