When you’re a world away from everyone you love, how do you keep those relationships intact? When there is always a 5 hour time difference and an ocean in between you and the life you left behind. That’s the thing though, the life that you leave – it keeps going whether you are there or not. My loved ones back home don’t just put their entire lives on hold just because I’m no longer there. Holidays, big life moments, birthdays and family drama continue even if I want to hit the pause button on that life while I’m off having my own life. I know, that’s an unfair and selfish thought, but I think everyone has moments like that. Even so, how do you compromise and work to keep relationships healthy when the people are in two different countries?
In this day and age, technology rules our lives. And I’m thankful for the advanced technology we have because it’s what makes my stay in London that much easier. I’m blessed with all the technology that I have, which includes my laptop, iPad, iPhone and UK android phone. I’m given a opportunity to stay in touch easily with each gadget. I have iPhone messaging, FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp (plus my UK phone lets me make phone calls home for super cheap!). And while, all these things are great, they don’t always make things easier.
I’m an independent person by nature. I grew up close to my large extended family, whom I love dearly, but can be suffocating some times. I always felt coddled and I never had to do much on my own. So when I got older, I became much more independent. I like space and having my own life and doing things at my own pace. Something that my Mum does not understand most of the time and often creates friction between us. When I got into school here in London, she made me promise to email her every single day to check in. Obviously I agreed to ease her mind, but I knew that wasn’t going to work out. And it didn’t. How was I suppose to create a life here and let myself grow, if I was so completely tied to my life back home? If I had to remember to send an email or received an email wondering how everything was? I can’t function that way.
At 23, I need some space, I don’t know if I would have received the same demand for daily emails if I had went to one of the graduate schools back home in the United States, but it was something that I couldn’t deal with and I still can’t. Which causes tension that I can almost feel even with an ocean in the way and ultimately it came to a head and caused around a week of complete silence on both ends. I have an amazing Mum and a good relationship with her, and I can understand her point of view to an extent, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting her to understand my point of view and what I need. I know that she’s worried about me being so far away, but I’m trying to create a life for myself away from her and my life back home. I don’t want to have to email her everyday. She doesn’t get that, or maybe she doesn’t want to get it.
So how do we comprise? I can’t go back to sending daily email check-ins, but she can’t go all week with radio silence on my end. We still haven’t figured out the best way to handle it so that we’re both satisfied. We try to Skype at least twice a week, but the emails fluctuate and leave her on edge, I think. I wonder if a part of her is also frustrated that it’s much easier for me to keep up with my friends and brother. It’s easy for me to send a quick text or a Snapchap to them, with no regard for the 5 hour time difference and I have no sort of obligation to them. It’s easier to communicate and keep a good relationship working when smart phones are involved, I’m not going to deny that. My brother and I tend to get along better when we’re not together, so me being away actually has strengthened our relationship. We text almost everyday, nothing important really, just about music or things I’ve seen or what’s happening back home. We enjoy the time apart and use that to time to talk more, which I cherish. And I’m fortunate when it comes to the friends I have, they’re incredibly loyal and understanding. They know I have a life here and that I can’t be home for the important things. They don’t have expectations and are always willing to keep me up to date with their lives, just as I am with them. Making this work well, is all about wanting to make things work. People that are important will take out of their day to set up a time to FaceTime, or will plan a trip to come visit you. I have an entire summer jammed packed with people I love coming to visit!
In the time I’ve spent here so far, I’ve realized that it’s not about where you are in the world. Life is going to continue, whether you’re curled up with your Mum watching TV in Pittsburgh or if you’re sitting on your bed writing a blog post in London. You just have to remember that you have to make an effort and keep things in perspective when it comes to the people you’ve left back home. Most days I find myself sitting on the bus looking out the window thinking about how the sun is just rising back home. How while I’m typing this, my family is in their beds and my best friends are either just getting home from a night out without me or have been asleep for ages. Sometimes it’s hard to be away, there isn’t a way to get a hug from someone you miss or a way to eat that home cooked meal you’re craving, but you remember why you made the move in the first place. And in the end, all I have to do is go pick up my phone and I can hear someone I love’s voice, because I know no matter where I am in the world or the time it is, they’ll always be a phone call away.