Choosing to study abroad is a huge, life-changing decision. There is a certain amount of dedication and independence that comes with going to a foreign country by yourself for months at a time. It is safe to assume that you will be leaving a mix of family, friends, or a significant other at home while you enjoy your experience abroad. While it may seem impossible and terrifying, there are ways to cope with all of the feelings and doubts that you may have about this adventure.
In my opinion, the easiest people to keep in touch with is your family. If a parent works during the day, they will likely able to call you during lunch and before/after work. Because of their specific time schedule, it is easier to set up a recurring time to call every day or every other day. For extended family that you do not need to contact every day, it would be good to set up a time once a week or every other week. This could be between a class or late at night, so that both parties know that there is a set time on a specific day reserved for them.
Friends from home (who are also in college) may be more difficult to find time for. Because of the time difference between home and your place of study, there are often times where one person has free time, and the other is in class at the same time. Alternatively, one is sleeping while the other is free. Sending messages at random times throughout the day, getting each other’s school schedules to find when you both have free time, or planning what you will do during the summer or the next school year are ways to stay connected during your time apart.
With a significant other at home, there may be a hesitation when choosing to study abroad. Although long-distance relationships are hard, they are possible. You may feel unsure about leaving them for five long months, and that is completely understandable, but think of all the time you will be able to spend with them after those months fly by. It is more important to take this short time to find out more about the world and yourself. There are so many apps that allow you to watch movies together over the computer, video chat, play games, and more. Open communication is absolutely necessary for a long-distance relationship (LDR) to work. Honesty and trust are at the base of a healthy LDR, because constant worrying about the faithfulness of your partner will take away from your time abroad. Assuming that you want to talk to your partner every day, setting up a schedule will help with making sure there is time every day to at least say hello. If possible, planning to meet up on spring break or talking about what you will do when you see each other next helps as well. Remember to tell your partner exactly how you feel, because you both know the best way to handle your own relationship.
Ashleigh Litcofsky is the Spring 2019 CEA MOJO Photographer in Aix-en-Provence, France, and is currently studying at Emmanuel College - Boston.