On November 11, 2011, my college sweetheart, Edgar, proposed to me in front of the capital building after a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown. It was one of the happiest moments of my life (thus far). One of the saddest moments in my life was kissing my fiancé goodbye at the airport.
I thought it would be important to discuss one of the most important reasons why people do not study abroad apart from finances and that is relationships. I would like to state that it is very possible to have a fulfilling relationship while abroad and communicate daily if not hourly with your loved one.
The most helpful tool I have is my iPhone which has at least 6 free apps in which I use to communicate with my family and friends back home. Before I left my mother got me an iPhone 4 which my sister and my fiancé (and his family) all have. Now if you are not looking for a contract or switching your phone, get an iTouch with a camera. It might be a big investment, but honestly it is the best device to use to stay close. You can also invest in something like an Android– Apple just has thousands more Apps than any other carrier/device.
When you go abroad bring your iPhone/Android/iTouch and turn it to airplane mode, turn off cellular data, and turn off data roaming. Now you incur no charges from your cell phone company! But it can still connect to Wi-Fi spots and they are everywhere. Campus has 2 different networks and 1 in the housing.
There are a few Apps that I found extremely useful (free or $.99) that you probably already have or know about.
- WhatsApp ($.99)- you can text, send pictures, and even videos (it can also group text)
- HeyTell (free)- you can leave voice mail and talk back and forth
- Voxer (free)- this is a bit better for back and forth chat because it turns your phone into a walkie talkie and allows you to text and send pictures
- GroupMe (free)- this is best for texting your family all at once because you can add many members in a chat room and you can all view the messages (text)
- KakaoTalk (free)- texting app
- Skype (free)- for about £ 3.50 you can get unlimited calls to the US and use your phone as long as there is Wi-Fi
Those apps have allowed me to talk to dozens of different people and text Edgar everyday. Now of course Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pintrest are all useful Apps to share your experience with your family and friends.
Other ways to keep the romance alive between you and your other:
- Phone- I got a cell phone here in the UK so I could keep in contact with friend here but I also put about £ 10 a month on it for calls to the US which are 7p a minute (not the best rate- check out Orange instead of Vodafone)
- Letters- as corny as it may sound, it is probably the sweetest thing Edgar does for me– he sends me letters every few weeks and I do the same (postage out is about 79p for under 10grams ad £ 1.10 for 20grams)
- Postagram (iPhone App)- Genius!! So you create postcards with pictures you have taken and send a 145 character description to friends and family for $.99 anywhere in the US (plus they can pop out the picture 3×3 and put it up on the wall)
The most important thing is staying in touch, but also making sure you both have an understanding that you are traveling, exploring and studying so you can not keep in contact with them 24/7. Edgar and I only Skype about once a week, but we leave voice mail for each other every morning with HeyTell, and text everyday with WhatsApp.
This is not for everyone, but if you both decide that you want to stay together while you are abroad, there are dozens of ways to do so. I am sure there are even more Apps which can facilitate romance while apart. I do admit, surprisingly, that this experience has strengthened my relationship with Edgar, as it solely relies on communication. The fact that my future husband supports me 110% is probably the most important factor when i decided to study abroad in hopes of bringing him to the places I have been.
I have about 44 days left abroad (been 93) so we still have a bit of time left, but I am extremely excited to come home and see my family, friends, and Edgar. Lastly, if you have the time and money have your significant other visit you. You can even meet up in a different country! I hope this is helpful and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. I am happy to answer!