long-distance relationships.

Editor’s Note: This post was inspired by a Cosmopolitan article I read yesterday about a long-distance relationship. It resonated with me a lot, so I figured it was time to talk about mine.

If you’ve been following me for a few months (or you’ve spoken to me at all since October), you’ll know that my boyfriend Simon lives in England. Having met at a truly incredible Fall Out Boy show in London, we were obviously destined to be together. Clearly, some ominous omniscient being watching over us (read: Pete Wentz) wanted us to meet.

12366041_10207912280075073_76715821180008690_oThat said, we’ve now known each other for almost four months and officially been together for a little over two months, even though I have now been back in Philly for over a month (that is the most math I’ve done in over a year). I like to think that I’ve gained some wisdom on long-distance relationships (LDRs) now that I’m in one, so I thought I would shed some of that light on you. (Please note: I am not a professional. I just like talking about my boyfriend.)

Here is some advice and maybe some hope for those of you who are in or may one day be in an LDR:

#1: If you’re with the right person, long distance will not be that hard.

Okay, this is kind of a lie. Long distance is really, really difficult sometimes. That said, if you’re with the right person, it is manageable. I’m not sure what I expected of LDR-hood before I was thrown into it, but I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it didn’t really feel that much different. Sure, I haven’t kissed my boyfriend since before Christmas, but our almost constant communication hasn’t dwindled at all, and being 3000 miles apart, we’ve kind of been forced to make the extra effort to become closer in other ways in order to continue progressing the way a normal, geographically-close couple would.

#2: Communication becomes EVEN MORE important.

Communication is 100% the most important part of any relationship. If you don’t talk about stuff, you’ll suppress, you’ll repress, and you’ll struggle to grow both as a couple and as individuals. In LDRs, this is even more crucial. Simon and I obviously can’t wait to see each other in person to handle a problem; we have to take care of things as soon as they happen. This is where technology comes in. Part of what makes the distance so manageable is the fact that things like Skype and FaceTime exist. I still get to hear his voice and see him outside of the hundred Snapchats we exchange every day on a regular basis. iMessage has also allowed us to text just as much as we did when we were on the same continent, even if it uses up all of my data (sorry mom). If you find yourself in an LDR and don’t have iMessage, I recommend the app Couple. You can text, send drawings, let your S/O know when you’re thinking of them, and even utilize a feature called Thumbkiss, where you can make your thumbs… well, kiss. (Editor’s note: I tried to explain this better. It did not work.)

There are so many different ways to communicate through technology that our ability to interact as a couple hasn’t really changed at all. We’ve just had to learn to make up for the things we can’t do with words. (It is possible that Simon and I have just gotten lucky with that as we are both writers, and expressing ourselves verbally is pretty easy. I’m pretty sure you can read any of my posts and know that I talk a lot.)

#3: Knowing when you’re going to see them again makes things way easier.

This isn’t really advice, or anything useful, so sorry. I understand that in many cases, LDRs are indefinite, and you might not know when you’ll be able to see your S/O again, but knowing that I’ll be seeing Simon again relatively soon (5 weeks!!!) is really comforting. That said, after his trip to Philly in March, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see him again. At this point, it’s looking like I won’t be able to make it back to the UK before Christmas, which is admittedly scary. Fortunately, we got that aforementioned communication thing down pat.

#4: You will get used to the time difference.

Simon and I only have a five-hour time difference, so I can’t really speak for the North America/Australia LDRs, but being in different time zones isn’t as bad as either of us thought it would be. Five hours isn’t even that much time. There have been times when Simon has had to wake up really early and I hadn’t even gone to sleep yet, but that’s more of a reflection of my absolutely horrendous internal clock than anything. He always says good morning first, and I always say good night last. It really isn’t any different than just having an S/O with a much better sleep schedule than you.

#5: If you really have to force it, it might not be worth it.

This might be a bit redundant, and also might be a bit of a crappy thing to say, but it’s true. LDRs take an insane amount of work, like all relationships do, but it should not feel like work. I never feel obligated to do something or say something for the sake of my relationship. I don’t really want to compare it to a job, but it really is just like having your dream job. You have to work, yes, but you should love doing it. If you have to remind yourself to text your S/O, something ain’t right.

There will be times in any relationship where you might have to compromise, but it should never feel like a sacrifice. The only thing Simon and I have sacrificed for the sake of our relationship is sleep just so we could Skype for a few more minutes. We have never felt like we’re losing anything or giving something up. It isn’t losing five minutes of sleep, it’s gaining five minutes of a good conversation.

~~~

Ah, a super long post about a super long-distance relationship. How appropriate.

BONUS: built-in drinking game a la You Deserve A Drink by Mamrie Hart: re-read this post and drink every time I repeat myself, say something mushy, or say “Simon.” If you get hurt, I’m sorry and please don’t sue me.

35 days!

xx Gabi (+ Simon)

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leaving home/getting settled/the first two weeks.

My only justification for the lack in posts over the last two months is that I wasn’t in London yet and had nothing to say about it.

Now, I’ve been here for two weeks, and I’ve just been lazy, so let’s have a chat.

Leaving Philly was hard. Not really leaving Philly, but leaving my mom and my friends. I somehow managed to not be a total wreck saying my goodbyes that day, but the few minutes right after each goodbye were some of the hardest. I’m not going to say I handled it well, because I’m really not sure hyperventilation is a good thing, but I got through the day without getting dehydrated from crying too much like I thought I would, just because a not-much-younger version of myself would’ve. #CharacterDevelopment?

If you want the truth, my first day here was… rough. I don’t know if it was the delusion and exhaustion from a transatlantic redeye flight that I didn’t/couldn’t sleep on or the genuine fear of being in a different country without my parents or anyone I really knew, but my first 24 hours were just straight-up bad. Surprise, surprise, Gabi can’t handle stress. It actually wasn’t until I unpacked all of my stuff (in a record-breaking 15 minutes) that I started to relax a little. I think seeing that my suitcases were about the size of my entire room scared me and made me think I would be forced to live out of my bags for three and a half months and never feel fully at home here. Fortunately, as usual, I was wrong.

It’s now been two weeks (almost exactly), and I’ve settled quite nicely, if I do say so myself. I’m currently harboring a standard beginning-of-the-semester cold, but I feel at home in my closet-sized room. You’ll be happy to know that my roommate isn’t even a serial killer. We both found coffee that we like, we figured out how to use our stove (only after reporting it broken), and I’m like, 95% sure I don’t drive her crazy (yet).

Since we last spoke, I’ve toured the Houses of Parliament. I’ve seen Shakespeare’s Globe twice, and I crossed the Millennium Foot Bridge (albeit with some fear that Death Eaters will attack it again). I saw Brand New and Basement perform at Alexandra Palace and talked to a cute boy from New Zealand about music and traveling. I took the National Rail on a day trip to Brighton and toured the Royal Pavilion, and even dipped my toe into the English Channel (which was a cozy 60 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s been a very eventful two weeks, I’m not even sure how I’ve managed to still go to class.

Tourist attractions aside, I’ve fallen in love with real London. The Underground is a utopia compared to the Broad Street Line, and I have yet to encounter a bus that wasn’t exactly on time. In one of my classes, we were asked to describe the city in one word. Many said “traditional” or “posh” (a word that I have a serious bone to pick with), but all I could think was “organized.” London is the most well-oiled machine of a town I have ever experienced, and I am fully aware of the fact that it’s going to spoil me. SEPTA will seem even worse after I spend three months riding around on tubes that don’t smell like rotting garbage and cat pee.

I have approximately one million more things to say about this place, but TL;DR I’m in love.

Please note that starting with my next post, I’ll be incorporating some required posts for my blogging class this semester. All posts for that class will say #BlogLondon2015 (mostly so my professor can find them, but also so you guys know what you’re reading).  

cheers from across the pond, across the country, or across the hall,

xx Gabi

the beautiful sigh of relief: an update.

consider this short post a follow-up to my previous one.

I was so nervous about meeting my soon-to-be neighbors (and roommate) that I kind of forgot how awesome making new friends could be.

I met four people that I’m going to London with last night, and I didn’t not like any of them. It was so natural. We were all laughing our asses off within minutes and everyone had something in common with someone else at the table. We talked about our pasts, our plans, and our packing situations. I even managed to get answers to some questions I had about the trip. My anxiety about London was cut in half after just a few hours spent sitting in a bar on campus during a thunderstorm talking to people with similar concerns. I got phone numbers, Facebooks, and even plans for brunch. I know whose faces to look for in the airport and I’m honestly a lot more excited about who my roommate might be. Not to mention, I’m not seeing myself sitting alone on a train to Paris anymore.

Not all forms of anxiety are resolved with space. Sometimes you need the opposite. The kind of anxiety I usually have requires silence, darkness, and coldness, so I tend to forget that sometimes a stressful situation can’t always be fixed that way. People have answers, and this is one of the few times in my life where my anxiety has been subsided by extensive social interaction.

I’m feeling so good about this trip now that 52 days went from seeming way too soon to way too far away.

xx Gabi

the fear (is a very good song by Lily Allen).

listen, I’m pretty social. I have some outrageous anxieties, but fortunately for me, my social anxiety is decently manageable and I’m pretty good at making friends. I’m horrible at keeping them, but a view on YouTube counts after 15 seconds even if the person doesn’t keep watching, right? I took a stat class, I know what I’m talking about. (I don’t. I almost never do.)
the statistical data of my social life and the truth of the matter that is my social life suggest very different things. the numbers suggest that I can make a friend in two minutes flat (and it’s true, I’m great). the problem remains in the truth. I’m picky with friends. I want everyone to love me, but after one too many friendships fell apart, I realized it was because they were all one-sided. sometimes they were way to into it and I was pushed away by their eagerness, but it was usually (almost always) the other way around.
as much as I hate the word, I am clingy by nature. I can’t help it. if I meet someone and they spark any kind of excitement in me, my first instinct is to hold on to them for dear life. people are not usually as great as they seem anyway, so it wasn’t always a bad thing that the friendship didn’t flourish, but I probably did scare a few people away with my, ahem, attentiveness, and missed out on a genuinely good relationship.
I like to think I’ve grown out of that at least a little bit. I learned the hard way that relationships of any kind (platonic, romantic, what have you) NEED to be two-way streets. if the other person isn’t putting in the effort you’re putting in, it can’t be very healthy, y’know? you either need to have an agreed nonchalance about the whole thing, or a mutual decision to put an equal amount of effort into it.
that’s where it gets kind of difficult. communication is awesome. I love talking to people and I want people to know how I feel about things. the problem with that is that not everyone feels the same way. some people don’t know when to communicate or what to communicate or even how and relationships suffer because of it. even more so if neither party is good with communicating, because seemingly every authority figure in my life has taught me that two wrongs do not make a right.
so, get to the point, Gab. what’s with the annoyingly melodramatic title?
alright, internal troll, relax. I call this entry “the fear” because making friends is damn scary, especially when you fly overseas with a bunch of strangers and have to live with them for four months. you’re basically screwed if you DON’T make friends with them. is that not terrifying?
I’ve only spoken to a handful of people going to London with me, and I do see myself actually befriending some of them, but the relationships I’m going to build are not relationships yet and it is 50% my responsibility to make them develop. do you get why I’m afraid now? I’m blindly walking into an endless void of people I do not know who I have to actively get to know as soon as and as well as possible. the really hard part about that is that it’s not like kindergarten. how we made friends in kindergarten:
toddler 1: I like blue!
toddler 2: I also like blue!
toddlers 1 and 2: LET’S BE BEST FRIENDS.
ah, those were the days. in college, if you tell someone you like blue, and they like red, it literally blows up into a four-hour political debate (don’t even get me started on the greens). I am not exaggerating. I once told someone I liked the color blue and proceeded to get yelled at for it. gotta love them political journalism majors.
TL;DR: I’m scared. I kind of hope everyone else is too.
56 days.
xx Gabi

the prep.

you never realize just how much goes in to planning a big trip like a semester in London until you start planning it. half of the things I’ve had to take care of and consider during this process hadn’t even come to mind prior to my orientation meeting.

things I had anticipated:

-registering for classes

-calculating expenses

-buying my tickets to and from London

things I had not anticipated:

-literally everything else

I had no idea how many different things were involved in the process. I hadn’t thought about cell phone service overseas (which, if you know me, is actually kind of surprising). I hadn’t thought about healthcare, or where I would stay when I traveled outside of London. I didn’t think about whether or not I’d need a Visa based on my decision to apply (or not apply) for an internship. I hadn’t considered the fact that all the money I’ve been saving to irresponsibly blow in Europe would have to include a budget for groceries and laundry. I, somehow, hadn’t even thought about packing, and how I would manage to fit three and a half months of my life into a 50-pound suitcase and a carry-on. Needless to say, I had multiple panic attacks during that four-hour orientation and the days (months) that followed. (I also won a free t-shirt that day for winning an Instagram photo contest I wasn’t even aware I’d entered).

Weirdly, the thing I worried least about was my passport. I’ve had one basically my whole life (thanks, parents!) and I got it renewed a year ago so that I was already prepared for this very trip. That said, I’m still so worried about the infinite list of other things that need to be done before departure that I can’t even be comforted by the fact that I don’t have to worry about a passport. *Circle of Life blares in the background*

But I digress (I digress a lot in my writing), I am still decently (outrageously) unprepared for this trip. I have my flight and know where I’m living, yes, but I don’t even have a big enough suitcase yet, let alone have any idea of where to begin with packing. Maybe I’ll just make it easier on myself and only take one pair of jeans. I can do laundry every three days, right? On top of that, who needs cell service? This gives me a perfect opportunity to get some adorable Union Jack stationary. I’ll write home every day. It’s not like the weather in London will change in the time it takes for my mom to get a letter from me telling her it rained that one day…

LOL I AM FREAKING OUT.

xx Gabi

the dream.

Everyone has a dream, right? Not the kind where you get chased through the desert by a thousand monkeys in your underwear (you’re in your underwear, not the monkeys). Everyone has that dream too, obviously, but no. I mean a real dream. Winning the House Cup, defeating Voldemort, you know what I mean. London is my dream.

I did the People to People student ambassador program when I was 13. I saw Italy, I saw France, I saw, regrettably, a LOT of underpants. A bus jam-packed with forty 8th graders? It was bound to happen.

Anyway, our last stop on the trip was a measly 48 hours in London. I saw more in that 48 hours than I did that time I binge-watched season 3 of Orange is the New Black (last weekend) and all that crazy shit went down (SPOILERS!). I saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London. I rode the London Eye and ate fish and chips (twice). I saw a performance by the legendary percussionist/dance group STOMP and had a picnic in Trafalgar Square. I even saw Fleet Street, Diagon Alley, and 221B Baker Street (though 13-year-old me did not get how awesome that was at the time). The city changed me. I like to think I grew up a lot that summer, though it’s debatable. We are still talking about the girl who was given a credit card for said trip just to leave it at home by accident.

I digress (you’ll soon learn that I digress a lot in my writing), London is my dream. I’ve been itching to go back since the minute I left and now it is finally happening. I want to sit in a cafe outside in a leather jacket in September because it’s actually cold enough for one. I want to ride a subway that could actually pass a health inspection. I want to be a short train ride away from Paris and Barcelona. It’s all going to be real so soon and yeah, I’m freaking out a little. There is a lot to get done before I go, but I have my ticket, I have a place to live, and I refuse to have anything but a perfect experience.

xx Gabi

two months to go.

two months. 68 days, to be exact. I have two months (68 days, to be exact) until I leave Philly all alone (with 20 people) and take a transatlantic flight to London, where I will live and study for three and a half months. I don’t know if I’m being calm because I’m actually calm, or if I’m being calm because it’s right before the storm of nerves, fear, anxiety, and FEAR hits. did I mention fear?

now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not afraid of London, or flying, or being on my own. I’ve been to London (though only for two days), I’ve flown countless times, and I love being on my own. what I’m afraid of is what comes with being on my own: independence. I realize that’s confusing, but I guess until this point in my life, being “on my own” just meant staying home alone for a few nights in a house pre-filled with food by my parents when they go on vacation or something. studying abroad is actually being on my own. I have to trust and rely on myself to budget my own money and my own time, and that’s terrifying. this is adulthood before adulthood. I’m starting my junior year of college, I still live at home, and student loans still kind of seem like a distant nightmare slowly creeping up on me but that’s still far enough away that I can pretend it’s not there yet. studying in London is supposed to prepare me a little more for responsible grownup life, right? …right?

this blog will be used to document my trip. not only will I be in London, but I am also planning on traipsing across as much of Europe as I possibly can from September 1st until December 20th. until then, I’ll use this blog as an outlet for the anxieties of planning a trip as big as this and as an outlet for the really exciting parts that I want to share with you guys. and by “you guys” I mean my mom, who I talk to every day anyway. I love you, endless Internet void I’m screaming into.

to be continued. two months. 68 days, to be exact.

xx Gabi