Breaking Up Abroad, Happier Alone

Experiencing a Break Up Abroad Opened My Eyes

I went abroad for a semester expecting to return home to my now ex-boyfriend picking me up at the airport; as you now know, that isn’t what happened.

I had been in a semi long-distance relationship for about a year when I departed for my semester in Salamanca, Spain. My ex-boyfriend goes to school about 8 hours (driving) apart from me, so we were used to doing long-distance during the school year. I didn’t think being an ocean apart would put much more strain on our relationship, but I was wrong.

I cried to my mom and sat on the floor of the hotel hallway, staring at Big Ben; talk about a movie scene.

Not only did the time difference make it harder to talk, but I also felt that we were growing apart. I was experiencing so much in such a short period of time, and he wasn’t able to fully understand or experience it with me. We were used to visiting each other during the school year, and a plane ride to Europe isn’t exactly feasible time or money-wise for a college student.

When he told me he wasn’t happy anymore, I was heartbroken. We could make it work, couldn’t we? I was desperately holding onto text messages and phone calls, and it just wasn’t cutting it. We broke up about halfway through the semester, the weekend my parents were visiting me in London (which was a blessing in disguise). I cried to my mom and sat on the floor of the hotel hallway, staring at Big Ben; talk about a movie scene.

The plane ride back to Spain was less than enjoyable, but I knew I had to stay strong. I tried my best to keep a happy face and limited my crying to the shower. I wasn’t going to let this incident ruin the amazing experience I was having. When neither of us made an effort to reach out, I stopped wasting my time worrying.

Sure, I may have had weak moments, but I was no longer preoccupied with what he was doing, what he was thinking, or why he wasn’t texting me back. I was able to truly enjoy every aspect of my trip and realized that I was fine without him. Rather than cry over an unanswered text message or a call I never got, I was able to keep my eyes wide open to what was going on around me.

Along the way, I learned so much about myself, including that I can be perfectly happy alone.

I often relate to a quote from Pico Iyer: “We travel, initially to lose ourselves; and we travel next, to find ourselves.”

When I went into the trip, I was trying to lose myself in everything around me: the people, the food, and the culture. But along the way, I learned so much about myself, including that I can be perfectly happy alone. I was able to experience much more not having to worry about another person in the picture.

I have never been one to rely on a man for happiness, but my experience of breaking up abroad gave me that much more reassurance. I may have returned to my dad and sister at the airport rather than my boyfriend, but that didn’t matter. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I know I can handle it, boyfriend or not.

About Rachel Petty

Rachel PettyRachel is a recent graduate of James Madison University. She is from northern New Jersey and spent four months studying in Salamanca, Spain. She also got to travel to many other European countries and has been on mission trips to Costa Rica and Jamaica. In addition to traveling, she loves writing, reading, going to the beach and spending time with friends.

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