I want to say don’t do it.
Don’t fall in love while you’re abroad, because it’s almost inevitable that it’s going to end in heartbreak.
You must know it too. You have a life back home—school or a job—and this was meant to only be temporary. We can’t just uproot and and move to another country to be with someone.
I want to say just stick to dates, meet some people, have some flings, but don’t fall in love.
Don’t fall in love abroad, because if it ends badly, you’re always going to associate that city with that person. You’ll end up looking back on your experience with cynicism. You’re going to hate that person for ruining those memories for you, and you’re going to hate yourself for having stepped right into something that you knew from the start was going to end in tears.
Don’t fall in love abroad, because when you go home, you’re just going to be counting the seconds until you can go back and see him or her. Your life back home is going to feel a little less colorful because that person isn’t there to share it with you. You’re going to feel like you’re not totally present—like there’s something missing.
And it’s going to suck when you realize a five hour time difference feels like a whole lot more when you can’t ever seem to both be free at the same time, or he doesn’t turn up for a Skype call, or she always seems to be out with friends, at the library, the gym, out to dinner—living a life that doesn’t involve you.
You’re likely going to break up and spend a whole year trying to get over them, only to realize that when you have the opportunity to go back, they’re the first thing on your mind.
Don’t fall in love abroad, because you’re going to waste time believing so strongly that it was the distance that broke you up. You’re going to believe that if only you could move there and be with that person, you’d live happily together for however many years to come. The problem was just that you or they “really couldn’t handle the distance,” and that was what tore the two of you apart.
But what you don’t realize is that you were lying to yourself. You were believing a lie that was easier to believe than the truth. Because when you go back and see them, you’re going to get hurt all over again—and you’re going to realize that falling in love abroad actually isn’t any different than falling in love in normal life.
On the other hand…
…maybe do fall in love while abroad. Fall in love abroad, because you’ll fall in love with the city too. Fall in love abroad, because you’ll get to see a world through another person’s eyes. Fall in love abroad, because it will open your heart wide, and you’ll become this person you never really knew you were capable of being—and it’s going to make your experience so much richer for it.
Fall in love abroad, because it’ll show you that in any part of the world, we are all just human; and even though we come from different cultures, we all know how to laugh, cry, hurt, and love.
Fall in love while abroad to learn and grow—to grow into yourself as a person. Don’t close yourself off to an experience just because it’s fleeting. Embrace it. Be thankful that you got to know what it’s like to love and be completely present and engrossed in a world away from home. Be grateful for what this person and this place were able to teach you. Be grateful to yourself for not running away even though you knew how hard it was going to be.
And be able to forgive yourself when it doesn’t work out exactly as you thought it would.
Every part of me wants to say don’t fall in love abroad, and yet if you were to ask me if I’d do it all again, I’d reply with a definite yes—because even though experience can be tainted from heartbreak, it also has more meaning because of it.
If you fall in love while abroad, it means that you didn’t just pass through a place and vanish like a ghost who was never really there. Instead, you made your mark, leaving a little bit of yourself in the nooks and crannies of the cobble-stoned streets.
And isn’t that what being abroad is all about? Taking something from the experience for yourself, but also leaving a little part of you there too.
Author: Naomi Boshari
Image: With permission from Shannon Laliberte
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis