Study Abroad, Kids (How to Get a Spouse, p. 2)

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Leah took this picture — it’s me jumping into the water and we just rediscovered it

How does a couple who met while studying abroad, and then went their separate ways, reconnect? Well, this is the good stuff guys—with three times as much intrigue, scheming, and deceit as the previous post on how Leah and I first became acquainted! Or actually, after Leah and I studied abroad in New Zealand I always remembered her. She was smart and cute and kind, and every once in a while she’d pop up on Facebook and I’d think, “I wonder what that Leah girl is up to?” So eventually I dropped her a line, and once we started talking and she seemed just as wonderful as I remembered, I tried to convince her to visit me.

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Some friends and not Leah hiking a glacier

At the time I was living in Korea. I send Leah a message at New Year’s when my family came to visit me and we traveled to Japan. When trying to log onto Facebook, a hotel computer prompted me to match names to pictures of some of friends, to prove who I was. Leah was one of the people I had to identify. This seemed like a good opener, so I later sent her a message along the lines of “lol Facebook was weird I had to identify you twice!” Of course, twice was a lie. However, it seemed cute, and Leah was the easiest face to identify (that is the truth!). Also, I have no regrets because that small fib got us talking.

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Leah and a New Zealand fish (cutie!)

We started emailing back and forth, and I tried to get her to come to Korea, but in the end it didn’t work out. Then our communications dropped off and we didn’t talk for about three years. But then I was single, back in the United States, and BAM! We could talk on the phone. Ladies and gentlemen, if you weren’t aware, being able to talk on the phone is vastly superior to emailing, or at least with regards to making a real connection with someone. And then we started texting, Skyping, and emailing too, and this time I was able to eventually smooth talk Leah into visiting Albuquerque where I was attending graduate school.

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Water caving (NZ’s really a fun country)

The ins and outs of our romance probably aren’t the most exciting thing to you, so how about one small anecdote: Before Leah came to ABQ (that’s what the cool people call it) I’d joked that I’d meet her at the airport with a sign. I didn’t actually plan on doing that, but after she bought her ticket I thought “Wow, this girl actually likes me.” So I went to the store and got markers and poster board. I felt a little self-conscious holding my sign in ABQ’s really small “Arrivals” section, and I kept second guessing if it was the right thing to do. But then Leah cleared security, saw me and my sign, and a big smile went across her face. I knew she was the one.

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One of our only photos together (find us!)

After Leah and I reconnected in ABQ it was a year and a half of more calling, texting, Skyping, and commuting until we moved to North Carolina and then got engaged. Leah came to Oregon once, to help me me move my car to New Mexico, I spent the summer with her in Boston as she finished up school, and then there was a winter with her at her mom’s in DC. All of it was a blast, and as I write this post, I almost miss the adventure of constantly flying for visits (I spent so many hours writing and correcting papers during layovers). So study abroad, kids. That’s what I’ll say to my future offspring when Leah and I are itching for grandchildren. But if we aren’t itching for that, come twenty years I’ll delete this post and I’ll tell them studying abroad is AWFUL.

–Jeff and Leah

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From a study abroad reunion — everyone is aged about four years, and crazily enough, this was in North Carolina where we now live

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