Is a Long Distance Relationship for the Duration of a Master’s Degree Program Worth it? - UTU Masters
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Is a Long Distance Relationship for the Duration of a Master’s Degree Program Worth it?

When I first moved to Finland in August 2017, I had just begun a serious relationship. The decision to continue on my journey towards a master’s degree rather than staying back home to help nurture a relationship was a tough one, and I do not recommend it for those weak of heart.

I’ve always heard stories of students going abroad and throwing caution to the wind with the thought “out of sight, out of mind” going through their heads when thinking of their significant others back home as they find someone interesting. Many of my friends to this day have never seen a long distance relationship work out, especially since my relationship was so new when I moved.

For me, beginning a long distance relationship was not a light hearted decision. My boyfriend and I spent a long time discussing different options, such as not being exclusive, seeing how the first academic year goes and beginning something serious the following summer when I would be home for several months. However, the closer the departure day came, it became obvious to the both of us, that having a long distance relationship would prove to us whether we could get through anything life throws at us.

Plunging into a LDR proved more difficult with the added pressures of a master’s program on my side and strives for building a career on my boyfriend’s side. Receiving the support necessary for such stressful and anxious times proved difficult, but through daily phone calls and messaging, it was not as tough as I imagined. Yes, it was by far the hardest thing I have done emotionally, but my friends at UTU and CEAS have been a tremendous help in assisting me when I feel stressed or having a bad day when my SO is sleeping or busy at work. An eight hour time difference is annoying but waking up early or going to bed late always proved helpful, even making time during odd hours was possible, so we could watch movies, talk, or even play distance games on Messenger together on FaceTime, much like the screenshot posted in the gallery. Going through the motions of everyday life with someone you love there, even electronically via phone, helps decrease the stresses of life and helps give purpose as well.

Friends of mine have tried having LDRs in the past, but they are not suitable for everyone. The distance may be too tough for some, but an “easy walk in the park”, to a certain extent, for others. If your decision to come to Turku is on the line due to a relationship, take it from a person who was in the same shoes two years ago, that having  a LDR definitely proves to a couple whether they can get through anything in the long term and it is possible. However, each case is individual and it depends entirely on the people and circumstances. But giving a LDR a try is worth the rewards in the end and I can honestly say that the distance was worth it now that I am graduating and planning my move back to Nebraska.

Milla Heikkinen
mimarh@utu.fi

Milla is a 2nd year master's student at the Centre for East Asian Studies in Turku. After immigrating to Nebraska, USA in 2002 from Finland at the ripe age of 7, Milla has spent innumerable years learning about her Finnish heritage and being inspired by the world through learning about cultures and societies. As an undergrad at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she spent a year studying on exchange in Helsinki and after graduating with a BA in Global Studies, moved to Turku in 2017 to pursue her dreams of achieving a Master's in Social Sciences at the University of Turku. In her spare time, she likes to watch Netflix, bake innumerable sweets for her friends and colleagues, and drink an occasional glass, or bottle, of wine with friends over board games.

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