Long distance relationships at Uni: my experience

A lot of people at university seem to believe that having a boyfriend or girlfriend whilst studying is the worst thing possible. No more going out with the bros. Your girl’s night outs will be brought to a halt. Then there are the people that believe you can’t possibly balance your exams and coursework with a relationship. What about a long-distance relationship? Now that is totally out of the question for many. But why?

During my first year of university, I was single. I had moved from Glasgow to Aberdeen, primarily with the longing to get away from home and start over. I never imagined falling in love with a boy from back home. During the Christmas holidays, I started dating someone I knew from Glasgow. He made several long bus journeys to Aberdeen to meet with me. By the beginning of Second Year, we were in a relationship. I don’t know if you could say it was an extremely long-distance relationship at the time, but it certainly developed into one – we’ll get to that soon.

What is long distance? That phrase is entirely subjective. For me, living three and a half hours away from my partner certainly felt long distance. I couldn’t see him every day, I couldn’t see him every weekend. Sometimes I’d wait a full month before we were reunited. It sucked. I would get incredibly lonely during the night. There were many teary phone calls. The distance also made my anxiety worse. At home, I didn’t mind him going out and having a drink. But when I was so far away from him, my mind came up with a million horrible scenarios in my head just because I felt so far away from him. This all affected my moods during my second year of university. But I also chose to live out of the city to save money. I couldn’t see my boyfriend and I hardly saw my friends. If you are committing to a long-distance relationship, you need to ensure you are surrounding yourself with other people who love you during your spare time.

Third year was the real test of our relationship. At the end of second year I had secured myself a place on a study abroad programme in the United States of America. I assumed I wouldn’t get homesick, I knew I would miss my boyfriend but the excitement of being in Tennessee for a full four months seemed like it would surpass that emotion. Boy, was I wrong, Study Abroad was both the best and worst experience of my life. I had never felt so low in my life.

Being alone and being lonely are very different. I can be alone but feel happy knowing I’ve spent the day with my boyfriend or friends. In America, I would be lying in my bed with my roommate talking to me and still felt incredibly lonely.

Now I knew the definition of a long-distance relationship. After hurting over missing my partner for just a few weeks or a month, I now couldn’t see him for 4 full months. It drove me insane. The time difference also sucked but eventually we got a routine working. Luckily, he worked the night shift, so he would be awake when I was awake and sleep when I went to bed. Something we didn’t have back home. I surrounded myself with caring people. Two friends I made during my time in America even got to meet with my boyfriend when they visited Scotland.

I might make it sound hard and that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It might have changed my experience at university but not for the worst. I still partied, I had lots of male and female friends and I even travelled the world. Studying wasn’t the hardest either, I left America with three A+’s and one A. I’m set to leave university with a 2:1 – when my boyfriend was around I couldn’t do work, but when he was gone during long periods of time I had all the time to focus!

If you happen to fall in love with someone, don’t let them go just because of distance. I’m finishing university now and I can honestly say my boyfriend helped me to be the woman I am today and get the grade I’m ending with. I may have enjoyed America more if I was single from the beginning but I could never have enjoyed any of my time at University if I had left my relationship. It’s just brought the two of us closer and made us stronger together. I’m writing this in bed now in our new apartment whilst he works the night shift, and I know those four years were worth it because I’ll be waking up to him coming home to me tomorrow and the next day and the next.

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