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Dear Neelon: An Unprepared Judy Blume Moment

I'm walking home from class. Exhausted and caffeinated at the same time, hunger takes over all sense and logic while I ponder what to do next and also think about which Netflix show to watch. I think about food. What sounds good? Italian? No. American? No. Thai? Hm.. maybe. Do I want to cook right now, maybe pick something up? Maybe I'll call Neelon and we can go to a food cart. Then we can watch Netflix, or go do homework, or go somewhere. *Then it hits me. I remind myself* "Oh, wait," I think, as the realization sets in. She's not here. That sense of comfort and familiarity, gone. Still hungry. Feeling confused. Want to FaceTime? Shoot... What time is it there? *Check time, subtract 4 hours, flip PM to AM. No, she's asleep.

This whole study abroad thing, kind of sucks- but only in a few ways, mostly studying abroad is the best thing you can do for yourself in college. The first couple weeks of our separation was hard. My best friend, my going-out buddy, my Netflix buddy, my shoulder to cry on, my person. My Cristina Yang, or Meredith Gray- depending on the situation. We're silly, oddball individuals, but we have each other- through thick and thin; but an 8 hour, ~4,569 mile, hemisphere away difference is a situation we've been trekking through for about a year now.

It's weird. When you're the one away, it doesn't phase you as much: traveling every weekend, meeting new people: foreigners and travelers alike, learning new cultures. But now that I'm the one here in Portland, the one still at Uni, still in the same country every weekend, still surrounded by the bubble that is college, it feels weird. It feels like I'm swimming against the current. It feels kind of lonely.

Trust me, I'm more than happy that my best friend, Emily Neelon- or Neelon, as I call her, gets the chance to study abroad. We call each other by our last names, I'm not sure why. It just kind of happened freshman year and stuck. It's honestly such an amazing opportunity that should be taken advantage of, in my opinion. Though I'm rooting for her and wishing her the best in Ireland, I can't help but miss this goob with all my heart. As someone with few friends and lots of acquaintances, the absence of my best friend feels heavy.

To deal with this temporary loss, I tend to follow the same procedure as I would a breakup: keep myself busy, spend time with other friends, focus on myself. Treat myself to good food and long rest, it's only 5 months, Marina; only 5 months. This is what I tell myself.

I feel like you always hear about people's excitement, people's plans and travel itinerary, when dealing with study abroad. The focus, as it should be, is on the person leaving: the excitement, the bitter-sweet goodbyes, the newness; everything's foreign. What people don't focus on, is how their significant others, their close friends, Christina Yang's or Meredith Gray's back home feel. It's the strangest kind of sadness: feeling excited, yet lost; feeling the absence. It honestly sucks being on the other side, missing that person, being adapted to the same everyday schedule, but without that person; it's hard. 

Luckily for me, in 4 long, midterm-filled days, I will be on a plane from Portland to Dublin, then on a train from Dublin to Galway: on my way to my beloved Neelon. 10 days. Worth it. There are 10 days for us to gab, catch-up, Netflix-binge, and bond before that Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet takes me back to the states where I will be patiently waiting for Neelon, like a dog waits for its owner- only better dressed, with a blog, & a continually busy class, work and lacrosse schedule. Maybe a bottle of tequila, too. Maybe not. Maybe a table full of food. Neelon, if you're reading this, you may not recognize me when you come back, as my pants size may be increased a couple sizes.

Honestly though, I hope all you study abroaders are having the time of your lives, learning new cultures, and maybe a new language. This is the time, enjoy it.