I thought I’d wait at least until the end of my first year at university to write this post, although of course that makes me no expert in the field! People are often quick to say that starting university when you’re in a relationship is a BAD idea. In Fresher’s Week everyone thought I was a little weird because I had a boyfriend, and some people (who I’d only just met) told me that it wouldn’t work out. “Relationships never last at university” is of course a common idea.
In fact, it was one that I was very much aware of myself and Lewis and I, did in fact have more than a few, very awkward conversations about what would be the right thing to do. I was, I admit the pessimist, convinced that the distance and having independent lives would put far too much “strain on our relationship”. I do know a handful of couples who did decide to break up before Uni for similar reasons. But the more we discussed it, the more I could see that in our case I had to just give things a go or I’d never know.
Lewis studies at Kings College London, a university I too applied and was offered a conditional place at, but turned down when I decided I liked Exeter better and felt that going to the same university would be a terrible idea – again, I actually know a couple who both came to Exeter together and ended up living in the same block on campus, so it can work!
For the first 6 weeks, we went without visiting each other in order to let us both settle into Uni life and make new friends without distracting each other I guess. It’s very easy when you have someone to stay over in halls, to become a bit of a recluse and spend most of your time with them and in your room – not very social for your first month at University.
With hindsight 6 weeks was a little bit of a long time to wait, but we kept in touch easily with FaceTime and text messages. In Freshers week, we’d ring each other when we got in from a night out – in fact this was a trend which carried on for basically the entire year – which turned out to be nice, as generally it was just a conversation of drunken “I love yous”. We helped each other through Freshers and the weeks at the beginning of term and it was so comforting to be able to chat to someone who “knew me” – a concept which I’m afraid won’t make loads of sense until you’ve moved into Uni and you’re spending everyday with lots of strangers. He had a particularly difficult time at the beginning, and I spoke to him several times a day just to make him feel a bit better. It was a relief really, to be going through the same homesickness and cooking mishaps, and just have someone to reassure you.
The journey between London Waterloo and Exeter Central takes roughly 3 hours 30 mins, which when I first started travelling was not fun at all. I remember the first time I stepped off the train in Waterloo and dragged my suitcase over to the ticket barrier, he was standing on the other side, easy to spot the 6ft 5″ blonde kid, with a massive smile on his face. I was so overwhelmingly happy to see him and hug him and kiss him. Although he did look a bit different in his burgundy shirt [I think he put on a bit of Freshers weight], I couldn’t have been happier to see his lovely face.
I am pleased to say that we have survived our first year of University, and I’m hopeful that we can tackle this one too. For me, although the distance has been hard at times – where I’ve wanted a cuddle, or some reassurance or for him to just turn up at my door – it has also really strengthened our relationship. I’m glad that we went to different Universities and that we are both independent people with our own flatmates, and courses and friends. Chatting to him on the phone whilst I’m doing my washing up or walking back from town never fails to brighten my day. I love hearing what he’s been up to, or having loads to tell him about a lecture or a ball or a society.
Best of all, I love his visits and I love to visit him. Exeter is the most beautiful city, and there is so much lovely stuff to do and explore, so many great restaurants and cafes to try.
And I absolutely adore going to London, walking across Waterloo Bridge, or around Covent Garden, having him take me out to a place he loves or just cook for me in his kitchen with his flatmates. Despite all this wonderful stuff to do, sometimes we’ll just have a day in bed watching films and eating pizza and soaking up each other’s company.
I never fail to be upset when I put him on the train back to London, and occasionally I will cry most of the walk back. But, at the same time I never look forward to anything as much as I look forward to his visits.