“Hi everyone! This will be our last week of posts since the semester is coming to an end. However, we were inspired as bloggers so who knows, maybe we’ll continue on our own. Look for us in the blogging world!! This post is an article I did about what its like to travel/study abroad while in a relationship. The relationship could be literally with a significant other, or more based on the familial relationship. I hope you enjoy reading this article. I really liked talking to these students/former students about their experiences. Thanks for following our blog this semester 🙂 Here’s my last post”
Posted by: Megan Brothers
Imagine. Sitting in the airport, waiting for your flight to board. Nerves, excitement, and sadness flood your body as you wave goodbye to your loved ones behind you.
Despite the difficulties of leaving those you love behind, students who travel or study abroad seem to agree on one thing; take advantage of the opportunity, regardless of your relationships.
Senior SMAD major Katy Summerlin traveled to London in 2010 for the fall semester. Besides the stress of an internship, taking classes, and being in a foreign country, Summerlin was also in a relationship back home. They had been dating for seven months, but had never been apart for more than three weeks.
“He was very supportive of my decision to go abroad and wanted me to have a good experience without missing him too much,” says Summerlin.
“I missed him a lot though,” Summerlin says, “but I was so busy most of the time; I literally didn’t have the time to spend pining for him. Looking back, it really wasn’t that bad. I think it would have been harder if we hadn’t been able to talk though.”
Communication is key in any relationship. Summerlin says that she and her boyfriend talked on Google video every day. She also had a cell phone and was able to text him.
“The time change was difficult but I would usually call him right before I went to bed at midnight as he was sitting down for dinner,” says Summerlin
Talking kept them close, but Summerlin’s boyfriend also sent her a care package filled with goodies, inside jokes, and his favorite t-shirt. “It made the distance not seem so far,” says Summerlin.
Unfortunately, Summerlin and her boyfriend broke up a few months after she got home. She assured me that the break up had nothing to do with her being gone however, and they are still on good terms.
Summerlin’s advice for anyone wanting to travel/study abroad is, “Go ahead and do it. Don’t let your relationship hold you back. Have your family come visit too. My parents visited on our week-long break; knowing they were coming made it easier to get through the lonely times.”
Laura Pond, a 2011 SMAD graduate, took part in the Semester in London program in the summer of 2010. She had a position as a Corporate Partnership’s Intern at the National Autistic Society and took three classes. In a separate realm of relationships, Pond experienced the feeling of homesickness and missing her family.
“At least when I was at JMU and missed them, they were just a phone call or a two-hour drive away; it wasn’t that easy being overseas,” says Pond.
Like most people traveling overseas, Skype, e-mail and Facebook chat helped Pond get through the rough times without her family. She was able to talk to her family and friends at least once a day.
Pond’s advice for travelers is to “Be yourself and take in the moment as much as possible. Find someone in the group that you can relate to and stick with them; it’ll make missing your family and friends a lot easier.”
In another part of the world, Rachel Miller, also a 2011 JMU graduate, traveled to Nakuru, Kenya for a month-long internship.
As an International Affairs major with a concentration in Africa and the Middle East, she has always taken an interest in Africa.
She went through an organization called Experiential Learning International that set her up with a microfinance institution in Nakuru.
Like Summerlin, Miller had been dating for a couple months before she went abroad. However, Miller said she felt stronger about her boyfriend at the time than she had about anyone else she had dated before.
“We were used to seeing each other every day and being a ten minute car ride away. It was weird having an ocean between us, but I still felt close to him,” says Miller.
Being away took a harsh turn when communication was tougher than expected. “We planned on skyping a lot, but the Internet in Kenya was too unreliable. The seven hour time difference didn’t help either.” By having Internet access in her office however, Miller was luckily able to check her email. Her boyfriend sent her one every day.
“His emails started my day with a smile and our two Skype dates gave me butterflies,” says Miller.
Miller says her trip to Africa didn’t cause any strain on her relationship but in fact made them stronger. They are still very happily dating.
Her advice for potential travelers is, “ DO IT. Don’t let a relationship prevent you from having a life-changing experience. We have the rest of our lives to be in relationships, but the window of freedom to travel is small. If you have the opportunity, TAKE IT!”