Exchange student woes: the long-distance thing.

So I might have gone a little overboard.  Just a little...
So I might have gone a little overboard. Just a little…

Lately, I’ve realized I’m dangerously close to becoming that friend.  You know the one.  The friend that acts overly needy, constantly texts you, fills your inbox, and gets angry when you don’t reply right away?  Yeah, that one.  The annoying one.

So that’s me.  And the worst part?  I hate that friend too!

I really don’t mean to do it.  I didn’t even know I was doing it until I found myself getting severely irritated at this one friend for “ignoring” me.  The truth was I just hadn’t received a reply in a little over a week, and instead of patiently waiting like a normal person, I proceeded to spam her inbox.  And her Facebook messages.  And her timeline.  Yeah…if she was just busy before, I suspect she now has a very legitimate reason for purposely refusing to respond.

See, here’s the problem with being on exchange in a different country, on the other side of the world, in a time zone that’s 12 hours ahead of home.  You miss your friends.  Sure, you make new friends while you’re away—and don’t get me wrong, I love the people I’ve met here and I’m sure we’re going to be friends for a long time to come—but there’s nothing quite like talking to your besties who have known you for years.

Case in point:  when something particularly exciting happens to me, I feel like texting my friends.  But then I remember:  1) it costs an arm and a leg to text internationally, and 2) it’s 4 am at home and chances are they aren’t going to appreciate the super early, vibrating wake-up call.  And so I am left with 3 options:

  1. E-mail or message them, although it doesn’t have quite the same effect when they aren’t hearing about it in the moment.
  2. Text one of my friends here, although they won’t quite understand why I’m so excited about this.
  3. Tell no one, have a short, excited conversation with myself, and then let the moment pass.

It’s just not the same!

And when I’m having a bad day, or a bad week (…or a bad midterm season for that matter), I’m used to coming home and talking with my roomies to blow off some steam.  Typing just doesn’t have the same effect as a face-to-face conversation.  What about Skype, you ask?  Well, that opens a whole other can of worms.

See, the 12-hour time difference means any real-time interactions need to be specifically planned ahead of time.  After all, Singapore’s night is Canada’s morning and vice versa, and if either my friends or I are expected to wake up before noon for a Skype date, we require a fair bit of warning, not to mention some serious mental preparation.  Early mornings are no easy feat in our world.  And having to put off the angry, steam-blowing rants for a few days until everyone can carve some spare time out of their busy schedules doesn’t really have the same effect.

To make matters worse, thanks to social media, I’m constantly reminded of the fact that my friends back home are all together, hanging out, and doing fun things.  Without me.  No, I didn’t expect them to put their lives on hold while I was gone.  Yes, I knew life back home would go on while I was away.  No, I don’t regret this year on exchange—it’s been the best year of my life.  But this long-distance friendship thing isn’t something I anticipated having to deal with before I left.

So if you have a friend who’s away on exchange, and is edging into “that friend”  territory, I implore you to cut them some slack.  They just miss you.

Trust me.  I speak from experience.

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