Last fall, right before COVID-19 and travel restrictions hit, I was given the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Amman, Jordan. I knew as I boarded the plane that the trip would be life changing (I had heard all the clichés), but boy was I clueless as to how life changing it would be! I was entering my junior year, and my boyfriend at the time was studying abroad in Jordan as well, in an area near me. I was elated. We had been dating for almost three years, but barely saw each other during the school year due to the distance between our Universities. Now we would be in the same city, thousands of miles from home experiencing so many new things together. What could go wrong?
My boyfriend at the time had been in Amman for a few months before me, and when I arrived, I stopped getting regular messages from him even though we were now in the same time zone. Communication continued to dwindle after my arrival, so unsurprisingly, after all the anticipation I had built and the daydreams of walking Petra together quickly faded, I saw the reality of the situation. It was either dump or be dumped. It took all the strength I had to do so, but I finally broke up with him and began to let go of him. This ended up being the most important decision I made during my time abroad. It allowed me to, as cliché as it sounds, find myself.
At first, the breakup was really hard, especially considering I was so far from my normal support system. I had been head over heels in love with this person, and I still felt love for him at the time of the breakup. My roommate was incredibly supportive and so were some of the girls at University, but I knew that no matter how hard it would be, I would have to buckle down and get the most out of this experience as possible.
This was easier said than done, but I started by allowing myself the time and space to grieve. My courses were rigorous and I did not let things slide with them, but I made my teachers aware of what happened so they would understand my dewy eyes or lack of participation. I decided I couldn’t grieve the whole semester — that would ruin it — but this was a valid reason to be sad.
During this grieving period, I reached out over social media to older women and friends back home that had been through a breakup. I was afraid that this would be humiliating for me or maybe overbearing, but I received so many positive responses that encouraged me that I had made the right decision. Acknowledging that I needed extra support and training myself to not feel guilty about this helped me heal more completely.
Another thing I did during this period was give myself long, out loud pep talks. I found a place where I could be alone (which happened to be our apartment’s rooftop) and sit and just talk to myself. I know this sounds crazy, and my neighbors probably thought I was crazy, but talking through things out loud helped for me to finally come to terms with the breakup.
When I finally felt like leaving the apartment for things other than classwork, I really started to push myself. I pushed myself to go to as many places as I could in the city and attend things I had been invited to instead of making excuses, and actually seek out events. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, this was one of the hardest steps. I didn’t want people to be able to see that I had been crying or wonder why I had been so distant. But this is what really helped me take ownership over my time in Jordan
At the end of the experience, I felt unbreakable. I had survived a breakup thousands of miles away from home and lived to tell the tale. The reality of it all though, is that I had broken and rebuilt myself, which I think is one of the most beautiful things about any breakup — no matter how far you are from home, breakups give you the chance to start over and see yourself as you, not just someone’s girlfriend.