Disclaimer: This article was written as a satirical and humorous guide, but the struggles are real. If you are planning on studying abroad while your boyfriend or girlfriend stays home, be adamant on making sure that the experience isn’t dampened by an envious or over-protective significant other. Don’t spend all your time Skyping! Get out and see the world! If this is a relationship that you believe will truly last, your soul mate will know that your soul needs this travel time. Good Luck!
You may have held on to this relationship through the transition from high school sweethearts to college companions, or perhaps you met in your early college days and are doing the whole cute-college-couple thing that some do… but you just aren’t really that elated anymore. You’ve grown into different people.
They are just focused too much on their major, or solely in college for the party scene, but you have bigger plans for your remaining year or two in college. You suddenly have the urge to escape, travel, and run far, far away -- without them.
Best way to end this dead-end romance without being too much of a heartbreaker? Studying abroad.
If you are going to disappear, you might as well do it epically. Like jumping on a plane, soaring to far-off places, making new friends, new memories, and perhaps -- dare we say -- even new romances.
“But I don’t want to hurt them!” You loudly protest as you sit in your college dorm, mouth agape. Yes, my dear child, I know the feeling, but you are hurting yourself if you reluctantly stay in your current college rut. Best way to end this dead-end romance without being too much of a heartbreaker? Studying abroad.
Step One: Set the Bait
It’s time to think about dropping hints -- easing into this thought of distance and set it in their brain that they cannot latch onto you anymore.
Leave those leaflets of summer programs in Greece on your dresser. Say you can’t have that date night because you have to get to the Study Abroad Fair to talk about Australian universities (hey baby, want to come and see how much awesomeness I’m going to have without you?).
Make sure they know that this is something you’re serious about and it isn’t just a phase. Though inside you may want to jump for joy and ditch them the moment you get that acceptance letter, if you want to let them down easy, stick to the plan!
I swear this relationship will unravel on its own and they will be let down the easiest way possible or -- they may even break up with you!
Keep the possibility of studying abroad in your daily conversations. Drown your sweetheart in chatter about how you’ll want to go bungee jump off of bridges in Croatia, or hang out with tigers in India, or play soccer with the local kids down the street from your new and fabulous apartment.
Plus, you really want to make an awesome video that your beau may or may not be extremely jealous of! Contain all of your excitement and focus it on how wonderful this experience will be without them. They’ll start to get the hint pretty quickly.
Step Two: Decide That You’re Going; Begin the “Talks”
You’ve decided to go. In fact, you've decided to go for as long as possible. A whole year maybe. After the warnings, you have worn your lover down and they understand this is a need for you. They understand that they need to set you free! You need to do this as a person.
And, of course, you’ve repeated endlessly that you’re so incredibly sorry you have to do it in the middle of your relationship, but everything happens for a reason, right? (Secretly, you’re ecstatic! Congratulations! You’re escaping!) But keep it cool for now -- you don’t want them to catch on.
Tell them you’re worried about growing apart while trying to maintain the relationship while away, and that maybe it won’t be as easy to contact them as you thought.
As your departure date creeps up on you, include them in your decisions, let them know about your excitement. Start sliding in comments that you’re worried about growing apart while trying to maintain the relationship while away on your study abroad program, and that maybe it won’t be as easy to contact them as you thought.
These are all truthful worries for any long-distance relationship and even if you wanted to try to maintain it while you were gone, it is a rough road. Stick to it! Your clueless honey bear will only benefit from the prep of what is to come.
Side Note: Maybe that horrible proposition has come up in conversation -- that you’ll take this adventure together! It will be so romantic, they’ll say, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT LET THEM PERSUADE YOU TO STUDY ABROAD TOGETHER. That will end in sad, sad, angry tears of remorse and they will be worse because you’ll be having a tantrum in front of the Louvre in between classes in Paris and you’ll end up hating the Mona Lisa for the rest of your life because it reminds you of them. No.
Step Three: The Plan Is Set in Motion
Hurrah! You have escaped! You said your tearful goodbyes at the airport and you left your old flame in a dust cloud on the tarmac. The only thing left to do? Enjoy being abroad wherever you are to the very last minute and forget about your “relationship.”
If you aren’t paying attention to it simply because there is so much to experience abroad, you’re doing it right! You really won’t have time for a significant other even if you wanted to keep one -- long-distance relationships are generally tough with the physical distance and time differences!
Lucky for you – the theory “out of sight, out of mind” holds true here. The final touches come from you following these next few steps:
Don't Get an International Phone Plan
I selfishly did this the first time I was abroad and ended up with a huge phone bill and a huge amount of regret. You do not need to be connected at all times!
Plus, if you don’t have constant access to your phone, you can definitely blame it for lack of communication.“Sorry, babe, but I can only FaceTime now or text when I have data because I’ll have a pay by use phone and texting is sooo expensive! But I swear I’ll message you the next time have wifi ok?”
If the words “do you have wifi” or “what’s the wifi password” come out of your mouth more than once a week, you’re doing study abroad wrong anyway.
Speaking of that dreaded word, if the words “do you have wifi” or “what’s the wifi password” come out of your mouth more than once a week, you’re doing study abroad wrong anyway. Wireless internet is finicky many places and you cannot rely on it.
Don’t want to talk to the soon-to-be-ex? Don’t! Simply shoot them a Facebook message later saying your wireless was down. They’ll probably get frustrated with that but it’s technically not your fault! This will give you the double win of them getting irritated and you still coming out as a good-guy. Bravo!
Travel All the Time
If your other half can barely figure out where you are in the world, how are you possibly going to have a relationship? Studying abroad is for studying, yes, but that doesn’t mean the studying has to all be in the classroom! Most programs give you Fridays off for a reason.
The questions will come pouring in. "When will you be there?" They’ll ask. "Will you be able to talk once you get there? What time zone is it?" The time change will be ridiculous at some points and the complete opposite of their schedule, which will make it almost impossible for you to chat anyway. More distance = more you time.
Now go have a beer with some locals and toast to your newly-found freedom!
Don't Post Everything Online
No one needs to see every update about your life abroad on social media anyway. Though it’s difficult to post everything anyway without a smart phone always connected, people accomplish this with detailed blog posts spanning the entire world of social media.
Yes, I know your mother is bothering you about needing to know your every move but please, this over-sharing ruins many things at once -- especially your being-single plan.
If you leave the camera home, you’ll A) appreciate and experience the moment more, and B) your long-distance-lover will whimper.
Let’s break it down for you: if you’re spending time updating, you’re missing out on experiences you could be having abroad and your soon-to-be-ex is going to know of everything and feel like they’re right there with you - which is what we do not want.
Remember -- we want them to understand that your lives are taking different paths! If they knew what you ate last night, and then knew that you checked in at the bar with your biffles after dinner, and then someone took a selfie with you while you were passed out with your shoes on at 2AM, they will laugh along with you but be thoroughly satisfied that they have (technically) been included.
However, if you leave the camera home, you’ll A) appreciate and experience the moment more, and B) your long-distance-lover will whimper and be sad they’ve missed out and be one day closer to breaking up with you themselves.
Study Up on the Local Language
Learn that language like your singleness depends on it. Imagine, you’re reluctantly Skyping with the bf or gf and in the background, your friend or host mom asks you for something and you respond in another language they don’t know.
"What’d they say?" they’ll ask and fake-laugh with you. And you can brush it off with a nonchalant "oh don’t worry about it." But they will worry and they’ll worry a LOT. The left-out-o-meter is off the charts on this one.
Want to up the ante even more? Pretend you want to teach them! Frustration will ensue and you can giggle and call them names in foreign tongues and they can do nothing about it.
The Final Win: Saying You Kinda-Sorta Met Someone
Throw in the towel. Saying you met a foreigner is the ultimate be-all end-all. And, honestly, if you are going out and meeting locals and hanging out at the right places, chances are that you’re going to meet a special person who also has a passion for travel and adventure.
Maybe it won’t be romantically, maybe it will, but that person will be more in-tune to your current life than your last relationship and it will only make sense to hang out with them more.
This will soon make your ex realize that you have grown apart so much that the void in your life was filled with someone that fit better. They will (hopefully) understand.
And maybe when you get home, things will be different, but for right now, you can say that you think that you both need a break from each other to focus on your lives at hand. And as you click that X box on that Skype screen for the last time, there is no doubt you’ll feel that relief.
You will grow to understand who you are as a person -- what your beliefs are, and your dreams.
You’ll rush out to your favorite spot in your study-abroad town and meet up with your newfound friends and maybe even give your new love-interest a big ol' smooch and you will smile knowing that you’re going to enjoy your time abroad while you learn about yourself -- instead of worrying about someone at home.
You will grow to understand who you are as a person -- what your beliefs are, and your dreams. And no one can hold you back. Job well done.Photo Credits: Sunny Chen, Richelle Gamlam, Fredella Jessy Surjono, Laura Brond, and Clara Mattheessen.