Last year I went on my year abroad to Germany, which many people would think is far enough for any long distance relationship. My boyfriend then ended up going to Australia for his. No one says relationships are easy, but is a relationship over 10,000 miles really possible?
Leading up to my year abroad, I was excited and nervous. I was obviously going to miss Britain and all its comforts and familiarities, and of course the people. However, there was one person with whom this was going to be even trickier: my boyfriend, who ended up going to Melbourne, Australia for his year abroad last year at the same time as mine. This distance was evidently terrifying at first, as it put us almost 10,000 miles away from each other! However we then also had to consider a 10 hour time difference and a 32 hour flight to see each other. This would be enough to put most people off. However, as mad as we are, we managed to stay together through this.
My boyfriend went on his year abroad at the end of October but I left for mine mid-August. This was nonetheless ideal, as Matty (my boyfriend) was able to visit me in Germany before he headed out to Australia. Plus the one hour time difference made it easy for us to communicate then. The end of October came around though and the challenges of a huge long distance relationship were upon us.
Initially the distance, and even more so, the time difference were very tricky. We were both only awake for around 7 hours of each other’s day, and with both having different schedules, as I was working in Germany and Matty was at university in Melbourne, we relied on catching each other at lunchtimes to catch up from day to day. The weekends were obviously easier for communicating but it wasn’t ideal. However we soon got into routines and found ways of keeping those flames alive! A few of the tips below are what really helped us too.
- Make time to chat. Matty and I didn’t always have much chance to chat because of time differences but we made the effort to do that when we could. This ranged from grabbing a few minutes to chat around lunchtime to being able to speak for hours at the weekend. However it was important to us to chat about what we were getting up to and be there to support each other when things weren’t always easy on the year abroad, even if this could be only be brief chats at times.
- Make plans to see each other. This was evidently a very tricky one for us. However with how timings worked out, Matty was able to visit me before he left, which was really nice. This also allowed him to see where I was and that all was well. However, then the big Australia happened. Despite the ridiculous flights times and being very expensive to fly there, I made the effort to go to Australia. Obviously this may not be financially viable for everyone but I saved up money from work on my year abroad and where I was living was very cheap. So through bits and bobs, I managed to afford to go. I know it meant a lot to Matty, as it did to me too. Plus it gave us both something concrete to look forward to and to know exactly when we were going to see and spend quality time with each other.
- Little Treats. Whether this was a sweet message to wake up to, or a postcard, little things like this really made a difference. Postcards were particularly nice, as they gave us an even closer sense of proximity to each other. When things were tricky or we were missing each other, this was particularly important and helped perk us up and keep us going. So the little things really can count.
- Communicate. I know this sounds simple. However communicating when you’re sad, lonely or confusing really helped. Not being able to have a hug after saying something meaningful was painful at times but being honest with each, and knowing that we were being that with each other, was important and made us stronger and more easily supportive of each other.
- Enjoy your Year Abroad. I know this may seem self-explanatory but it is not always easily taken advice. As much as I wanted to talk to Matty, I equally knew I needed to take every opportunity on my year abroad, rather than dwelling on the fact I was missing him and home. Getting out and exploring really helped and also always gave us plenty to talk about when we got around to chatting. Obviously exploring did get in the way of chatting sometimes but being active on our year abroads made sure we had no regrets from our year abroads, and we were then able to share all these different experiences with each other and support each other in seeking adventure!
Evidently relationships are never easy and this phase for us certainly wasn’t. However we managed it through simply communicating and looking forward to various things. This year we are still braving the distance from Bangor (North-Wales coast) to Southampton. However we’re stronger after the year abroad – it taught us a lot in how we can be stronger together and that distance is possible if we make the effort to make it that way.