The Cruel Reality Of Finding Love While Studying Abroad

By Caitlin Roberts

Our love was easy.

Our love was what both of us had always been searching for, and when I left him in the Paris Metro station that day, I really believed that the two of us would survive a year apart, but it was not that cut and dry.

It soon became this messy cluster of depression, missed phone calls, and living in this constant state of missing each other.

It destroyed us from the inside out and it led to him saying to me, “I think that we may have run our course.”

What I ultimately learned over this past year and some change, is that a long-distance relationship, with an ocean standing between the two of us, could be one of the worst decisions either of us have ever made, yet neither of us regret any of it.

Almost every girl dreams about going abroad and having the cliché, tall, dark and handsome man sweep them off their feet, but I never thought it would actually happen to me.

Something like that only happens in dreams, right?

So, when I arrived in London to spend a semester abroad, the last thing I thought would happen was to meet the love of my life.

When I met him, I had only been in the city for six days.

Hell, I had only gone to one class.

I just kept asking myself, “How is this happening to me?”

Our first conversation was about drinking tea and discussing history like we were invited by Catherine the Great of Russia to one of her salons in the 1700s.

That just completely knocked the wind out of me.

Not only did I meet a handsome English boy six days into my trip, I met one that loved history as much as I did and wanted to discuss it with me over tea.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven and that was only the beginning of the best, and simultaneously the worst, thing that has ever occurred in my life.
Just when I thought things could not get any better, January 24, 2015 happened.

We spent the whole day shopping, eating lunch, flirting and just enjoying each other’s company.

It was that day when I realized that I was in love with him.

I was head over heels, for lack of a better term, in love with him.

Only two weeks had gone by and we were almost inseparable and I honestly thought I was crazy for feeling this way.

How could I know for sure after only two weeks?

Later that night, after we had way too much to drink with his friends and I was successful in having them all yell “Roll Tide” when we took tequila shots at a bar in Clapham, we were standing out in the cold air drunkenly goofing off waiting for our Uber to arrive.

I had said something completely ridiculous and he responded with a jovial laugh and said, “This is why I love you,” and pulled me closer to him.

Without hesitation, I responded by laughing and saying, “I love you too.”

For the first week after that night, we were very noncommittal with “I love you,” because we were both wary about saying it too soon, but it felt right so finally we said it.

We both put it out there, even though we were not sure who actually said it first on the street a few nights before or whether that one counted.

We said it sober instead of just texting the uncertain “I <3 you” and decided to embark on the greatest and most fulfilling relationship either of us had ever had.

The next three months were filled with too much netflix, The Simpsons, debating over whether or not putting Nesquik in milk was considered a milkshake, and going on dates to places like the Churchill War Rooms.

I felt so alive.

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D'Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D’Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

I felt so safe and sure of myself.

Being with him gave me so much confidence to just be me and go after what I wanted.

He supported me and was genuinely interested in everything I had to say, even if I did talk about my love for Kate Middleton too much.

He loved me for me and wasn’t asking me to change a thing.

I didn’t feel like I needed to be someone I wasn’t, just to make him stick around.

My friends back home quickly noticed my change in demeanor.

I would light up whenever I would talk about him.

I was not trying to find faults that would allow me a way out, like I had done with every other guy I had ever been romantically involved with in the past.

This time was different and I really thought that this one was going to stick.

Fast forward to May of 2015, and my friends had arrived for our month long trip through Europe.

We checked off our eight days in London and the next stop was Paris.

He joined us for the last three of our five days and when I had to say goodbye to him on the afternoon of May 14, you could have thought that one of us was dying or that we were never going to see each other again.

The second thought could have honestly not been too far off.

We had only spent four months together, which has never seemed like a lot in retrospect, yet we both felt as if we were losing someone we had known for years.

We felt like we were losing a part of us and we didn’t know if we were ever going to get it back.

We stood there in the metro station, holding each other while constant waves of tears rolled down the shapes of our faces.

For me, no one else was there.

It was just the two of us, cherishing the last time we would physically feel our love for each other for half a year.

Then, it was over.

We both went our separate ways and embarked on the dreaded long-distance relationship that so many people avoid at all costs.
“I have searched so long for the perfect girl for me,” he said. “And now that I have found her, I’m never letting you go.”

The next six months were awful in the sense that I was alone most of the time even though I was surrounded by friends who were constantly trying to cheer me up.

None of it seemed to work.

My body was constantly bogged down with an overwhelming sadness and I sunk into a state of depression that I had seen in others, but never experienced myself.

Facetime sessions, phone calls, and texts that read “I miss you,” and “I love you,” were becoming too much.

I was not only sad, but I was angry.

I couldn’t understand how I could find someone that I thought was perfect for me and I wasn’t able to be with them.

I was becoming bitter and angry because I was just so sick and tired of missing him.

Things on his end, 4,300 miles away, were just about the same.

We wanted so badly to make this thing that both of us had searched for, for so long work, but it seemed like it was only getting harder everyday.

November 14 is when he left Alabama after coming to visit me for two weeks.

After that date, nothing seemed to be going right.

Sweet, loving conversations turned into screaming matches over things that did not matter and times when both of us would spend half of our day angry at one another because we were six hours apart in time.

We began to rip apart what was left of this, piece by piece like animals.

Then, my visit in March, marked the end.

Something had been off for a really long time and it had driven a wedge between us.

Our Titanic hit the iceberg and started going down fast, but unlike the original, there were only two casualties this time.

Now, I have to ask myself, “How will I manage to get over him?,” because I never imagined that this would be the outcome.

I imagined it lasting for much longer, and possibly forever, but now I am seeing that some things are not meant to last, no matter how much you want them to.

I still love him with every inch of me and I can’t say I regret us, because I would be lying.

Part of me hopes that when I move to London later this month, our timing will be right this time.

Maybe in this version of the Titanic, Jack and Rose survive the turmoil and overcome everything that is thrown at them, but I absolutely cannot throw my life away by putting all that I have onto a sinking ship.

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