There are many benefits to studying abroad; you learn about a new culture, you might learn a new language, you travel, you get out of your comfort zone, you possibly lose your luggage and/or get multiple bouts of food poisoning, you grow. Also, by studying abroad you just might meet your spouse. Leah and I met in New Zealand in 2005. We didn’t know each other before studying abroad, and if it weren’t for the internet we might not have known each other after. Also, did you know that after meeting we didn’t really talk for twelve years? This is the first part of how we met, then went our separate ways, and then eventually got together. Hope you enjoy.
For as long as I can remember, I always planned on studying abroad. But when I got to college, I realized I needed to do so the first semester of my sophomore year. This was so I could apply to be a Residential Advisor after returning, which I ended up doing, and which paid for a lot of my college expenses. It was hard to study abroad as a sophomore where I went to school—you had to have completed three semesters first. So I fibbed about my class standing and found a professor (who I didn’t fib to) willing to sign off on my paperwork. Luckily I was always a little old for my grade level—my parents started me in school late—so that worked out.
Next, as an English major, I always planned on studying abroad in Australia. I wanted to study English classes and that meant studying in an English-speaking country. As for Australia, there was probably some subliminal thing implanted in my mind when younger via the film The Rescuers Down Under—that movie was a favorite. But, right before walking into the study abroad office to complete some final paperwork my friend Jeff convinced me to switch countries to New Zealand, because New Zealand was “cooler.” FACT: Jeff is now married to an Australian woman and lives in New South Wales. How ironic, right?
Leah was first attracted to studying abroad in New Zealand because it was different than where all her friends were going. She thought she’d have an opportunity to travel around Europe in the future, but New Zealand would be unique. Initially she thought she’d go to New Zealand’s South Island, but a professor who she was close with highly recommended the University of Auckland, on the North Island. And thank goodness he did! By the way, how we wound up in New Zealand could sound a little flippant, but if you are reading this and are college aged, where you study abroad exactly isn’t the biggest deal—you’ll have a meaningful experience.
So how’d we meet? Honestly, it’s something Leah remembers but I don’t. One day we both got in a van with mutual friends headed for a beach. As mentioned before, I guess I told Leah all about what it was like to harvest peas during the ride—which also explains why it took us twelve years to later reconnect (she thinks that is cute, but I think I was awkward). How we reconnected is a story to be told in the next post, but before that here’s one last interesting fact: we weren’t the only people from that van ride to get married, and that other couple even has a child now. So study abroad kids, because it might just be how you meet your future spouse!
–Jeff and Leah