Eight months ago, I met my boyfriend: an exchange student from Spain. It was the start of our junior year at Rutgers University and it was his first time ever visiting the United States. We met early on in the fall semester, during the first week of classes, while we were both still settling into our new homes. He was adjusting to life in a whole new country while I was becoming acclimated with life as a Resident Assistant in an all-freshman dormitory.
Our first few dates together were super casual. We got pizza one day and watched Sharknado the next. Ultimately, it did not matter how we spent our time together. I quickly realized I was with someone who I really liked being with. A lot. Captivated by his sweet personality, overlapping interests, and curiosity about life, I instantly recognized that I had met a truly remarkable person.
A conversation about how the two of us should proceed soon followed. We were cautious in our approach to starting a relationship. Could I date someone from another country? I tried to imagine how it would feel to fall in love with a foreign exchange student only to be torn apart in a few month’s time. How tragic! But what could we do? I couldn’t rationalize walking away from someone so lovable. There was undeniable chemistry between the two of us. Positive energy I didn’t want to pass up.
My boyfriend has had an immense impact on me this past year. Over the last eight months together, we became closer than I had ever thought possible. I fell in love with everything about him. Everything he stands for. Everything he was and is. A world traveler, a successful student, a handsome man, a passionate and loving boyfriend. I admire his qualities and trust his judgment.
Getting to know Jorge has been one of the most meaningful journeys I have ever embarked on. Prior to our relationship, I knew almost nothing about Spain. Uncovering each other’s cultures has helped bring us closer together; a twist in our relationship’s dynamic that gave us room for self-growth and discovery. We went on so many day trips between our visits to the Jack O’Lantern Blaze, our NYC Dinner Cruise, and the trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, as well as to many other places I’ve never written about. From late-night trips to the diner together to stressing over exams/assignments with one another, the support and camaraderie we’ve built together is something that is hard to even describe.
The semester is winding down now with only ONE day remaining. Tomorrow. After that, our exam period will begin and run until May 11th. At that point, residence halls will officially close and all students will be expected to move out. The emotions in my head are running rampant. It’s so bizarre to build a feeling of home, happiness, and security only to later be faced with a logistical “expiration date,” that radically changes the very life we’ve grown so comfortable with.
I’m so grateful that my boyfriend was hired by the university to do research here over the summer because the thought of having to say goodbye to him right now honestly makes me sick. At least now, our time together gets extended just a few months longer. Since my residence hall is not being reopened next year, when I close and lock my door, it’s locked for good. It just feels like I’m leaving behind so much when this semester ends. It pains me to know I couldn’t even come back to visit our old room if I wanted to. I suck at goodbyes and never before have I had to deal with one of this nature.
I always thought I’d be an emotional mess by this point in the semester. The extra cushion of time this summer eases much of the thoughts and feelings of anxiety I knew I’d start to experience right around now. Even with the added time, nothing changes the fact that my junior year is basically over. My boyfriend’s exchange year is ending. We still have a little time left together which I’m so eternally grateful for but part of me is saddened by the thought that many of the ways we previously spent our time together may never happen again. I will miss attending lectures together, grabbing dinner in the dining halls, motivating one another at the gym, and hanging out in my dorm room.
I do not know what to expect. I have no idea. Whatever will happen next is something that only time will reveal. For now, I will focus on enjoying every last second of the time we have left together this summer. There was something very special about this academic year that I will miss. Memories I will cherish and look back fondly upon. I owe so much to Rutgers, to the exchange program, and to Jorge. For making this year the incredible one that it was.