Cole Taylor is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing their story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism and media writing major at Lasell College, they are studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Cole tackles the topic of long distance relationships and study abroad.
- - -
“Distance is not for the fearful, it's for the bold. It's for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It's for those who know a good thing when they see it, even if they don't see it nearly enough” ~ Meghan Daum
Her name is Courtney. She is the light of my life and gives me a new kind of faith each day that love is worth it—our love is worth it. She is a selfless soul and supportive of everything I choose to pursue. Her humble disposition filled me with a sense of adventure and a wave of peace prior to my final decision to study abroad.
Four months is a short amount of time out of twelve months.
Four months is a long period of time out of twelve months when spent away from your partner.
Distance is a complex thing. It “makes the heart grow fonder” but it also hurts on some days. There often is no definite happy medium and this is why some students choose not to study abroad while in a long term relationship; it is unfathomably difficult to imagine taking that step because the fear of losing someone outweighs the possibility of gaining new perspectives.
Making decisions, based on a relationship, often takes the individualism out of you. It concludes that the restoration of strength and internal competence is perceptible. Some decisions, however, do require two people for opinions, compromise and sacrifice. When in a long-term relationship, it is important to include your partner in significant decisions so they are aware of your thoughts, intentions, dreams, and goals.
When I decided to study abroad in Ireland, the initial reaction from Courtney was excitement. The thought of me seeing the world, getting a top notch education, and making a long pursued dream come true was enough for her to put her full support forward.
We already have experience with distance being two hours from each other at our home institutions, but that is nothing like being an ocean apart. Our strong mentality regarding the distance was solidified by our patience. The perseverance of two people working toward one goal is much sounder when there is love.
As the timeline shortened, other emotions began to develop—sadness, worry, apprehension, and unease; to be expected as this experience was unfamiliar to both of us. The final days before departure were spent together focusing on positivity and appreciation of each moment.
We had countless discussions about how people do great distances all the time. Some people are deployed for war, some people are forced to move, some people travel for work, and some people choose to study abroad. No matter the reason for the distance, it can be a test of true love. It can show just how important it is to have sound communication skills, an open mind, a trustworthy heart, and genuine encouragement.
“Distance does not break relationships…doubts do.”
She laid her full faith in me. I told her that this was a chance of a lifetime. She told me not to miss it. Having been together for nearly four years, we have found a common ground in many ways—this being one of them.
Now that I am abroad, I realize that every expectation I had about us and my feelings has been shattered. The truth is, I did not know what to expect. Neither did she, but we went for it anyway because we knew this experience would only add to our story.
The reality of being in a long term relationship while abroad has sunk in. I have never felt more love for another person as I do now. I did not understand until now how much I value my relationship. My appreciation for Courtney has reached new levels. Her undying support and optimism has granted me with open wings so I can see the world and make my dreams come true. The fact that she pushed me to do this, speaks volumes of her character.
Distance is what you make of it—it is all in your approach. You can either think of it, freak out, and run away from it or you can embrace it, adapt to it, and learn from it.
If you are debating studying abroad because you are afraid of leaving someone behind, try to reverse your thinking. You wouldn’t be leaving someone behind. You would be turning away from a life changing opportunity; one you can never get back.
I cannot sugar coat something that is bitter. Leaving your partner in the airport to begin your journey is by far the hardest part, but once you are immersed in the culture of your host city, making friends, traveling and possibly interning, you begin to realize one of two things: the leaving part was worth it because your love is growing stronger or the leaving part was worth it because it was never meant to be.
Study abroad is an open gate to endless opportunity. It is a notable piece of your story if you choose to do so. It is a chance to turn four months into something you will never forget rather than spending them doing the same old routine where most days morph into one.
“Distance is for the bold.” Be bold.
Do not waste your days abroad wallowing in homesickness and telling your partner you miss them. Spend your days absorbing the world around you. Do as much as you possibly can. Home is always waiting for you. Do not fear the distance—it is temporary.
Communicate about the distance before you depart. Do not avoid the conversation. The more you do, the harder it becomes. Be open with your partner. Understand one another’s intentions and goals while apart. Set goals. Make agreements. Hold on tight or let go. Do what YOU need to do to make going abroad the most unforgettable experience of your life.
Dare to be and do the extraordinary. It sure as hell offers a lot more to the chronicles of your life than any ordinary day will.
Cole's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.