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International Exchange

A Year Abroad And… A Long Distance Relationship

12 March 2020

This post is the second in my weekly series where I write about topics that nearly stopped me going on my year abroad and how they have shaped my experience for the better or the worse. This week I am talking about my relationship.

Sam and I in April 2018

One of the first things I ever told my boyfriend, Sam, was that I was planning to do a year abroad and that if that was going to be an issue then he was free to never see me again… of course, that wasn’t the case. That conversation was back in September 2018, and soon after we properly got together. After this it was much more difficult for me to think about my year abroad, I had just met the love of my life and I was thinking about moving halfway across the world for a year.

Sam, of course, wouldn’t let me stay, he knew this had been my dream from an early age and said that there was no way he was ‘holding me back’. I think that being so open with each other helped a lot in preparing for a year abroad for. It meant that Sam was excited for me and we could plan for him to come and visit.

He supported me in preparing for my move and when the time came, in August 2019, to leave for Canada I was surprisingly unemotional. He made me a playlist to listen to on the plane that consisted of jokey songs so that I wouldn’t be sad.

My feelings didn’t really hit me until I had arrived at my new house and got my stuff unpacked and realised that I couldn’t speak to Sam because it was 1am in the UK, I got a bit teary but carried on with my day, getting settled in to Vancouver.

The first few weeks went fairly smoothly, getting used to long-distance was strange but we soon fell into a routine (follow this link to read more about settling into a long-distance relationship!). Sam was coming to visit in October and because we were so excited time flew by pretty quickly.

In October, Sam flew to Vancouver for a week and we had a wonderful time exploring the city and spending time with each other. All too soon though, the day came he had to fly home. We tried not to think about it too much and it broke my heart to watch him walk away from me.

That day was the closest I hope I will ever get to the feeling of experiencing a break-up: for about a week I couldn’t stop myself crying; that week was the hardest so far.

After that, everything went fairly smoothly until Christmas, we even met up in Las Vegas for a magical weekend celebrating Sam running the Marathon and his 23rd birthday. I went home for a few weeks over Christmas and ever since I returned, things have felt a little different.

Sam and I at the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

Since January, everything has felt quite tough… I think the problem is that we don’t have anything to look forward to together, other than me going home. Sam can’t visit me or join me for a holiday to San Francisco meaning that we have had to go over four months without seeing each other. We are currently two and a half months into that and, whilst we are still going strong as a couple, things have been difficult for me.

Now, before this year, Sam and I had never argued, never even really disagreed- I can’t remember a time we have ever said anything against the other. Even with me going away, we have still never had an argument but I find myself getting irritated at even the slightest thing- ridiculous I know.

This coincided with a period where I was struggling with my mental health. At home, if im feeling anxious or having a panic attack, Sam usually holds me until I feel better… I don’t need words, just knowing that he is with me helps. Here the only way he can make anything better is by using words which then gets on my nerves… it’s a no win situation for both of us.

Even saying this though, if you are thinking about doing a year abroad and are worried that your relationship may suffer- yes, it’s so hard… but if your relationship is strong enough then it will survive and you will come out the other side stronger than ever and the rewards far outweigh the cons!

A throwback to us in Paris last year!

Look out for next week’s instalment when I will be talking about money!

Three things I am looking forward to tomorrow:

  1. Going to work
  2. Speaking to Sam
  3. New Drag Race Episode

3. New episode of Drag Race!


  1. Sheila O'Reilly

    Hang on in there …. just think of the time when you will be back home … is so close now xxxxx Love always xxxx Nan xxxxxx

  2. Paul O'Reilly

    God help Sam. We can’t shut you up ic you are away for a weekend. God knows how much drivvle you will speak after a year. 5 minutes of important stuff, followed by 5 months, 30 days, 23 hrs and 55 minutes of wobble about Geese and Moose is my guess !!!. See you soon xx

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