During my second year of Spanish lessons, there was a new face in my class. He sat beside me every lesson, smuggling in home-made sandwiches to eat under the desk. It didn’t take long for us to become friends. After three weeks of mocking his ‘covert’ sandwich operation and being shushed by our teacher (‘no hablen más por favor’), he asked me out on our first date.
Not ones to waste time, we’ve been a couple for almost two years since that very first date. Taking Spanish classes is both the reason I met my boyfriend and why we’ve been apart for so long. Since August 2017, I’ve been living in Madrid as part of a 10 months exchange program.
In that time I’ve learned the struggles of having a long distance relationship with 15,753 km, a 10 hour time difference and a jet-lag heavy 22 hour flight between us. When my exchange finishes in May this year, we will have spent one out of roughly two years apart – 50% of our relationship.
Last year I wrote about us spending two months apart while I completed a journalism program in Indonesia and how hard but rewarding the experience was for us. In retrospect, the piece reads as painstakingly naïve. Two months feels like a nap and ten months, a coma.
Despite the struggles of being apart always circling my mind, I managed to distract myself for the first few months with many glasses of sangria, time with friends and trips to Paris, Rome and Lisbon. Time raced by and I was ecstatic when he came to visit me in Madrid a few weeks ago.
We had 12 days of blissful road tripping together through the south of Spain, practicing our Spanish, navigating tiny, cobble streets in a rental car (amazingly, without a scratch to our names) and eating tapas. Spending every day together felt dreamlike after such a long time alone. We caught up on six months of stories, ate sweets from a secret door in a convent, visited the Alhambra and climbed up the largest wooden structure in the world in Seville.