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LOVE: How to maintain a relationship abroad

by Amalia Mobley To have a long-distance relationship is time consuming and you always have to work on it. In modern times especially young people want and need to travel a lot and their partners can't always join them. So you either have to decide that you break up, stay home or, as in this case, you try your best to work it out. So if you are far apart, you need to find some ways to deal with it.

Studying abroad vs. Relationships

So, you’ve decided to study abroad. Congratulations! Studying abroad usually shapes up to be one of the most interesting times in your life, especially as a college student. You see the world, you take in new cultures, and your abroad experience can look very attractive to future employers. You and your significant other have decided to continue your relationship for the few months that you’ll be away. You’ll Skype as often as possible, you say to each other as you kiss goodbye. You’ll be just fine.

Be strong enough to get through it together

But, here you are. You’re about halfway through, and you’re feeling the distance. If you’re studying in a different time zone, that messes up you and your partner's or significant other's (S.O. -, how young americans call their love9 schedule quite a bit. You can’t Skype as often as you’d wish. You start fights because you miss them and want their attention. Trying to plan visits can be hellish. Things aren’t going well, and a part of you wishes to break it off and to end this weird distance-induced anxiety.

Make your own rules to deal with it

That’s where I come in. As someone in her second semester abroad, I know the feeling of missing your beloved all too well. I’m here to give you some pointers as to how to keep your relationship alive for the time you’ll be abroad. Though nothing can quite beat actually being in the same space as your S.O., hopefully these tips will help to ease the weight of the distance between you.

Don’t stress about what the other person is doing without you.

This can be hard for some people. You’re away in a different country, surrounded by different people and different experiences. They have time without you. This may be a time when your (and their) trust and faithfulness is tested. However, this comes down to a general rule for relationships: trust your S.O. It might be harder this time, since you’re not there to see what they’re up to. Remember that you went abroad for yourself. Instead of worrying what they’re doing at home, keep yourself busy. Anything else will result in a lot of unnecessary stress. And if you have real worries, find time to talk it over with your S.O.. If either of you have to be constantly checking in on the other to make sure they’re not cheating, you might have a bigger problem than just distance.

Have a weekly activity.

Obviously, staying in touch is crucial to a long-distance relationship. But at the same time, Skype-ing every night might not be possible. Having a weekly activity will help you stay reasonably in touch without being a hindrance on either’s schedules. This can be a movie, or a video-dinner date, or just an hour or two that you’ve both set aside to talk. My personal recommendation is watching a movie with rabb.it, a video streaming service that allows people in different locations to enter a “room” and watch pretty much anything on the internet, from YouTube to Netflix. You can also use the voice or video features in rabb.it to talk to or see other people in the room.

Have alternative video or voice communication services.

Let’s be real, Skype sucks. But it’s the most popular, so most people only use the one. However, there are tons of better-functioning applications to use for chatting to your S.O. while you’re abroad. For example, Discord, an application that was originally aimed at gamers to talk to each other while playing, is actually an incredible service. I’ve had an infinitely more pleasant experience using Discord over Skype. Google Hangouts is also a great service, and Google’s newer mobile video-calling application Duo has the best video quality I’ve seen yet. So far the best services that I’ve found with my S.O. is Duo for video calling and Discord for voice.

If visiting is possible, plan travel way in advance.

Being abroad with a new semester ahead of you can be dizzyingly busy, but if you or your s/o want to travel and visit each other, you must plan ahead. Don’t be too daunted by travel expenses. Places like StudentUniverse helps students book travel at more reasonable prices, plus asking your abroad Student Life staff about how to travel cheaply can be life (and relationship) saving.

Commit

Once again, this is a scheduling thing. Being apart, and possibly in different time zones, can put a wrench into trying to plan events like a weekly activity or travel. But, if you truly want to keep this relationship alive, commitment is a key factor.

Communicate

It can be terrible when one side of the relationship isn’t getting as much attention as the other. That’s why it’s so, so important to talk to each other when things get rough, especially if you find yourselves fighting way more often while you’re abroad than while you’re home. It’s usually a sign of needing to communicate more and wanting the other’s attention. When fights like this start to arise, find some time to really talk to your S.O.about how you feel.

Don’t despair

It’s normal to miss your S.O. But here’s the good news: they haven’t dropped off the face of the Earth. World catastrophes aside, you will most likely see them again. It’s only a matter of time. I promise. It’s infinitely easier said than done, but don’t stress out too much. The distance will seem like universes away, but in a few months, you’ll be back together in the same time zone and the same side of the ocean. Plus, if you can make it through this time away from each other, you’ll come out a stronger and more trusting couple than you were before.
All in all, it’s important to keep communication alive, and letting the other person know when you’re feeling like you’re not communicating enough. And here’s the thing: there will be times when you feel like the world is ending, or that the loneliness is too much. It’s a normal part of being away from your S.O. But, with these tips, you and your special someone will be able to bear the distance and make it out stronger than ever.
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