Lessons in Love Abroad

Today we have a great guest post from Hayley Fowler about lessons she learned while dating and studying abroad. Enjoy!

Lessons in Love Abroad

It all started with Mary Kate and Ashley.

Between “When in Rome,” “Winning London” and “Passport to Paris,” I was convinced at a very early age that love abroad was in my future. I mean, who visits their estranged grandfather in France and doesn’t fall in love with two Parisian boys on mopeds?

Sadly, 13-year-old me was in for a rude awakening in life. First, I did absolutely no globe trotting before graduating high school. And second, when I finally did spend an extended period of time away from the States, my international love affair looked nothing like the Olsen Twins’.

Flattering photo, I know.

Flattering photo, I know.

It did, however, include some hysterical conversations about word choice and one painfully awkward FaceTime call upon my return home.

We’ll call him Alex, for the sake of being generic. A lot of people who’ve spent more than two weeks traveling have probably stumbled upon an Alex at some point. Casey and Dan were lucky — they found each other a little earlier than most.

My Alex was English. He could be a bit self-absorbed, and he cared about other people’s’ opinions too much. He also had a superiority complex that rivaled Henry VIII’s.

Look at those calves.

Look at those calves.

While Alex admittedly never tried to behead me, it’s rumored good ole King Henry was obsessed with the idea that his calves were bigger than those of Francis I of France. And for some reason, I feel like Alex would identify with that.

But he had a british accent. And he loved pizza and “Friends” about as much as I did, which made Alex near perfect.Anyone who loves Friends is worth keeping, if only for a little while.

It became apparent early on that we were from different worlds. I grew up in the “Bible Belt” with oddly liberal-minded parents — Alex liked to dwell on that first part and ignore the latter.

About halfway through our relationship, I started getting homesick for southern delicacies — namely fried chicken and biscuits and sweet tea. He was, in true British fashion, appalled.

Chicken + biscuits = love.

Chicken + biscuits = southern comfort.

Once when we were watching an episode of “Friends” and Rachel came on screen in a pair of 90s jean overalls, Alex excitedly called them “Dungarees!” I was, in true American form, highly entertained.

I started calling elevators “lifts” and wait-lines “queues.” He never quite got on board with the whole sweet tea concept.

We split our time between binge watching Netflix and exploring Hong Kong. If it wasn’t Rachel and Ross dating and splitting up again, it was taking the trolley up to Victoria Peak and hiking back down together.

The view of Hong Kong from the top of Victoria Peak.

The view of Hong Kong from the top of Victoria Peak.

At this point in the story, according to “Passport to Paris,” we should have gotten arrested and been forbidden to see one another in a very romantic plot twist.

But there was no romantic plot twist in the my love abroad.

On my last night with him, we had drinks at a rooftop bar with friends. We stayed out until nearly 3 a.m. There were a lot of jokes about missing my flight.

When he came to say goodbye at 7 a.m. the following morning, I did a very silly thing and cried. I cried for more reasons than Alex — I was leaving behind a chapter in my life that I wanted very badly to keep reading.A sappy farewell.

A few months later the messages stopped coming. There were no more late night, time-change riddled FaceTime calls or quiet musings about when we may or may not see each other again.

The last time Alex called he fiddled uncomfortably on the other side of the screen.

His parting words were unforgivably ironic: “I’ll see you around Hayls.”

Meet: Hayley Fowler


Hayley is a disoriented senior at UNC Chapel Hill where she occasionally fantasizes about dropping out and becoming a professional wanderer. After spending a semester abroad in Hong Kong, she has a newfound love of Dim Sum and an improved outlook on airplanes. You’re most likely to find her sleep-deprived at her student newspaper (where she sold her soul this year as an editor) or curled up with Netflix — just depends on the day.

2 Comments

  1. thanks for sharing this story! Brave to do so. Travelling leaves us all with broken hearts and missed opportunities…

    Reply

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