To Be or Not to Be: A Couple Abroad
Should you break up with your significant other to study abroad?
Studying abroad is a time for freedom and adventure, a time to learn about yourself and about the world. Is it realistic to expect the same exhilarating experience while in a relationship? Whether they happened to meet their boyfriend over seas or their relationship fell apart the minute they settled in, these 5 girls give their candid responses to questions about their experience with the tides of love and travel.
Stacey R. – Seville, Spain
(They both studied abroad but in different places and made it work)
How did you and your boyfriend decide to stay together for your abroad experiences?
We talked about how we wanted to get the most of our abroad experience but also discussed how we would be in the same country and would have the chance to see each other. We were used to being in a long distance relationship from experiencing our summer breaks away from school and each other. We also knew it would be exciting to meet up in foreign countries and explore them together.
(P) How many times did you travel to see each other?
(S) We saw each other five times abroad. I visited him in Barcelona, he visited me in Seville, we met up in Madrid, Paris and traveled to Morocco together.
(P) Do you regret your decision to stay together rather than having that freedom?
(S) Not at all. Before we left we decided to be in an open relationship so if the chance arose, we could hook up with other people. It gave us the chance to have that freedom if we wanted it, but still be able to be in a relationship and stay together. There weren’t many guys on my program and Spanish men did not approach us often, so I didn’t really feel the need to utilize my freedom.
(P) What was the hardest part of your experience?
(S) At times I found it difficult to balance traveling with my friends or boyfriend. My friends would be visiting London for the weekend and I really wanted to go, but I had already committed to visiting Paris with my boyfriend. I was constantly tugged in two directions, really wanting to explore with my friends but also desperately wanting to see my boyfriend.
(P) Would you suggest other couples stay together?
(S) I would suggest couples stay together if there is a realistic chance that they can meet up. It was very exciting and romantic to be in a foreign country and go out to dinner and sightsee with my boyfriend. It was like being on a vacation together where we could drink wine, try new foods, visit museums and so much more. We created so many memories that we never would have created back in America. I wouldn’t have changed anything about our decision.
Emily K. – Barcelona, Spain
(She went abroad, he didn’t, it fell apart)
(P) How long had you been together?
(E) I had been with my boyfriend for a little over two years when I left for Barcelona and although the summer had been rocky, it was decided we could make it work with me in Barcelona and him back at school.
(P) How and why did it end?
(E) We ended soon after abroad started simply because the distance was too much and communication with the time differences was basically impossible. I regret not ending it before I left because it ruined my first weeks there and made me not embrace all that Barcelona had to offer.
(P) Do you regret breaking up for your abroad experience?
(E) Honestly, staying together while I was abroad was an improbable task and obviously failed right out of the wagon, however, being abroad made me realize there were tons of other (nicer and better) fish in the sea.
(P) What do you think would have changed if you had stayed together?
(E) After recovering from the heartbreak I opened my eyes and met a trustworthy and respectable guy who turned my world around and made me fall in love all over again. In the end I’m beyond glad that everything happened as it did and I wouldn’t change anything. Abroad was the most exciting and thrilling time of my life and meeting my current boyfriend while I was there was the icing on the cake.
Cara L. – New Zealand
(They went abroad to the same place together and made it work)
(P) How long had you been dating before you decided to study abroad together?
(C) We had been dating 2.5 years before deciding to study abroad together
(P) How was it being together abroad when you are away from each other while at school?
(C) It was really comforting being together abroad after being apart for so long because we knew that, without the stressors of heavy duty school work, contrasting schedules and long distance communication, it was finally time to just explore a new country as not only a couple but also as best friends.
(P) Do you think your relationship is stronger now?
(C) Yes, traveling with someone can be a difficult task that requires patience, accommodation and lots of planning. But it’s also unrivaled adventure 🙂 We were bettered by the experience of learning to travel together.
(P) What was the hardest part about going abroad together?
(C) When we had to leave. Obviously there were some stressors like missed flights, small budgets, and planning details- but that was all very fleeting and insignificant in the long run
Kara G – Madrid, Spain
(She met her boyfriend abroad and they’re making it work)
(P) How did you meet your boyfriend?
(K) My boyfriend and I meet through a seminar trip on our program. Our program did a ten day seminar trip prior to moving to Madrid. Two of my best friends from school were on the same seminar as well as two of his good friends from school. The six of us got to know each other and became fast friends.
(P) How did you decide that your relationship would last once abroad was over?
(K) We didn’t decide we were going to continue our relationship until a few weeks before we were leaving. We decided that we didn’t just want to drop everything we had been doing in Madrid and would try staying together once we got home. We knew we would visit each other and that there would be a chance we would be in the same place for the summer. Knowing that we both wanted to try is what has made our relationship last.
(P) What helps your relationship last now?
(K) We use our breaks to spend time together and weekends where we don’t have tests or lots of work. We always make time to talk on the phone or Skype at least once a week which helps. This summer we are both working in the same city so we are able to see each other almost every day which has helped us make up for time at school when we aren’t together. Both of us putting in the effort has made the distance a lot easier!
Taylor W. – Copenhagen, Denmark
(She went abroad, he didn’t, they lasted)
(P) How did you and your boyfriend make the decision to stay together?
(T) Because we go to different school, we had been through the whole “long distance” relationship struggle before I decided to head overseas. As I prepared to head to Copenhagen, we both knew that the distance would once again not come between our relationship and that we wanted our relationship to sustain.
(P) Do you regret your decision to stay together rather than having that freedom?
(T) I have no regrets about our decision because it never held me back from exploring new places, meeting new people, and growing more fully into the person I am now. We both trusted each other and had an understanding of what we wanted in our future.
(P) What was the hardest part?
(T) Not being able to pack him in my suitcase and travel to all the amazing places I got to see. What was even harder was trying to explain my excitement to him and not having him be able to experience it as well. Sometimes I felt like I was bragging, but I was just so excited about my daily adventures and he was the one I wanted to share them with the most.
(P) If you could do it again, would you make the same decision to stay together and why?
(T) I’d absolutely make the same decision. I grew a lot over those four months being on my own in a foreign country. I learned things that I never would have learned if I hadn’t gone, and the whole time I never felt as if I was being held back from experiencing all the amazing parts of a study abroad experience. When I came home and saw him for the first time after 4 months, our relationship felt even stronger than before I left. It’s a lot of work to stay together (nobody can really prepare you for that part) but I’d put in all that work and more if I had the chance again.