This article has changed its tone and gone through a romance of its own since I first left for the USA in August last year. I started out as a hopeless romantic, but with editing became more cynical about the trials and tribulations of long distance love. Many people leave for their international adventure in love with someone at home. Some return eager to rekindle the fire, others fear encountering what’s left of it. Nobody prepares you for the strain your lovesick heart will feel on a year abroad. Distance might make the heart grow fonder, but it also makes the string between you thinner – and when a string is pulled too tight, it snaps. I am no expert in romance, so take what I say with a pinch of salt – I am not in your relationship – but maybe my somewhat newly adopted realism towards stretched-out love might be useful.
It’s ME not EU or US(AYYYY)
This is your time to shine, baby. You’ve put in the work, now take the rewards that come with a year abroad. It’s a challenge, but love or hate the experience, you will learn so much about yourself, and dare I say, come back a changed person. Your relationships shouldn’t hold you back – fully immerse yourself in the experience, sexperience, or whatever takes your fancy, watch your horizons expand and dive into the colours they display. Look after your heart and do what is best for you among the complicated vines of romance.
PLAN and – this is vital – be realistic
Speaking of complications, college is MANIC enough without uprooting your ass to a foreign country. If you are hell-bent on making long distance work, talk to your partner and put a plan in place. Talking about your emotional needs, while it might raise uncomfortable thoughts of one’s own vulnerability, is essential in making the time apart fair on one another without making the romance seem too ‘plastic.’ Touch starvation, calling, care should be taken when dancing between the lines of consistent and dependant that romantic relationships tend to tread on. Talk about open relationships, going on a break, or just going your separate ways, being thankful for the time you had together.
For all those single ladies, gents and people who gender bend…
You may find your lilting Irish accent has made you a shag-magnet…congratulations, welcome to phase 1 of Erasmus Orgasmus: The opportunity to sex it up with a wide variety of individuals, and leave. Romance that isn’t in your lingua franca can be challenging so here are some tips:
Consent – ask for permission no matter what you’re doing and know how to say yes and no in the language of your partner.
Wear a hard hat – whatever kind of heavy machinery (or light, we don’t discriminate) you’re operating, make sure you’re protected; condoms, the pill, the bar, the coil – stock up and prepare before you go abroad just to be safe.
Here for a good time, not a long time – a mantra to remember while abroad. At the end of the time abroad, you’ll have to return to UCC, so should you fall for some exotic god abroad, think about long distance, and re-read this article! People have feelings; don’t play with theirs if you also don’t want your own being played with.
FRIENDS. THEY EXIST. Keep your pals in the loop and let them know how you’re getting on. If shit hits the fan, you know you won’t be alone when you come back.
It is very lonely when you are a time zone behind, and an ocean away. It can be easy to fall out of love with other people, but remember through it all not to fall out of love with yourself while you’re in the midst of rediscovering who you are. At the end of the day, que será será – what will be, will be. You aren’t the only person who is nursing a heart of two minds. If it breaks, it can be healed, and the cracks, well, they just show you felt something once.