Unfortunately I had to sacrifice something dear to me in exchange for my year abroad in ‘murica. I went to Chicago in a relationship and I will go back single. Not the end of the world however – I was able to do two things: eat my feelings with an extraordinary amount of questionable American food and, I was able to reflect on what went wrong.
I have put it down to four things.
- I am poor. We are all poor, we are students. As much as I wish I was making it rain with hundred dollah bills, this year abroad is an investment. A polite way of saying I have spent all my savings to get to the land of the free and I simply do not have enough money to go back to Brighton regularly enough and to levitate any withdrawal symptoms we may have. It is so hard to sustain a relationship when there are 3967 miles between each other and wow have I felt every mile.
- Social media is evil. What I have learnt is that I will trail through nightclub photo albums to see if you are at Pryzm on Wednesday hugging that one person I don’t recognize, or if you are dancing on The Haunt stage with someone that ain’t me. This boils down to lack of trust. The distance exaggerates any small trust issues that were once there but not noticed because you were with each other. With social media, I am watching from a distance the life you are leading without me and you the same for me and it pushes a wedge between what was once quite secure.
- Meeting lots of new people. I am in Chicago and everyday I meet lots of wonderful new people (and some who aren’t as wonderful such as Trump supporters blathering about how great the wall will be). You are doing the same, meeting lots of new people in the Sussex Uni Co-op, eyes locking on strangers across the Bubble Tea Bar in Falmer, or going for a lovely romantic stroll to Stanmer house. With lots of new friendships being formed on either side, it is inevitable that your mind will wander to the worse case scenario.
- Problems are exaggerated. Everyone warned me that long distance relationships never work and I thought I would defy this reality. I didn’t. At the end of the day unless your relationship is as strong as oak AND you are both on the same page then the distance is only going to be the catalyst for an immense poop-storm.
Despite coming to these realizations, I have not lost sight that I am having the time of my life. I have met incredible people, done amazing things and I know there are more memories to come.
It doesn’t matter that I am alone in the romantic department.
At least I know food will love me.
Orla Keenan is a third year Law with American Studies student currently on a Year Abroad programme at Roosevelt University in Chicago