University student Niamh Shields shares practical tips on how not to miss out on a great college experience if you are missing your other half.

‘Distance makes the heart grow stronger’


College Corner columnist Niamh Shields

I love every single aspect of college life, that sense of freedom, making new friends, learning about the subjects I love and most importantly discovering myself in a new surrounding.

However, the toughest thing for me is being away from my family and especially the boyfriend. Long distance

My fella and I have been together since the age of seventeen, now being twenty I still feel somewhat baffled how that man still puts up with me today. 

As mentioned before I study in Dublin City University and my boyfriend studies in Tralee IT, we both are from the lovely Hills of Donegal.  We are long distance lovers and best pals.

In the beginning stages starting college, it was definitely tough, I did spend most of my nights in my fluffy pyjamas, with a suitable for “sharing” tub of ice-cream, wallowing in self-pity and watching endless Nicholas Sparks’ films.

Romantic Nicholas Sparks scenes don’t help!

But with time the distance gets easier and if anything, your relationship gets stronger and better. I personally felt that at times it was a challenge but as cringe as this may sound and I pray the fella is not reading this, if you love someone they are worth any challenge. 

My main advice to anyone who is in a comparable situation to myself and Gavin is to just normalise it, don’t let distance become the, be all, end all, your bae is only a snap, facetime, text away! 

Here are a few tips that keep my relationship strong, happy and alive! 


Keep Busy: 

It can the loneliest feeling sometimes knowing that your loved one is no longer a ten-minute drive away, the first initial weeks are tough, I do understand. 

However, it is so important to keep busy, so you don’t be forever looking at your phone waiting for him/her to text back or scrolling through your gallery, reminiscing at the old times.

* Not that I did that at all. Nervous laughing whilst typing. *

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I always like to fill my evenings after college with endless activities, whether it be attending a society meeting, going to the gym, library or simply having a girly night in with my housemates. Then come 8pm I chat to Gav and fill him on my day and vice -versa. 

This makes the relationship stronger because we aren’t constantly relying on one another and we also get the opportunity to find out new hobbies and passions about ourselves. Come the evening time you both are missing and dying to talk to each other which is the best feeling in the world.  

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Avoid Excessive Communication: 

Yes, you will miss your loved one more than anything and fear the worst, what if she/he forgets me or think that I’m not thinking of them?? etc.

Stop with those thoughts and stop sending ten billion text messages or snaps. That can become sickening and you don’t want texting become a chore, you both will become somewhat tired of one another. You don’t need to compensate by texting more for the distance.

A quote I like to remember: 

‘Less is more’ 

Plan exciting activities for your visits: 

I see Gavin every two weeks, weekends normally follow as me going to Tralee one weekend and Gavin coming to Dublin the following weekend.

Gavin and I are opposites at times, he is a big gym addict and I am a big shop addict, yet we still work. One thing we bond the most about is food, we are food addicts for sure.

So, when one of us visits we always try out a new food place in either Tralee or Dublin. My favourite so far is The Counter Burger in Dublin and The Pikeman Bar – The Grand Hotel in Tralee.

By doing these little things you both love and adore you get excited for the next time you visit one another. Visits are the highlights in any long-distance relationship, so make sure they are filled with fun, love and excitement. 

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Stay honest and don’t dwell on the distance: 

Yes, long distance can be quite the challenge, and it’s hard when you feel lonely and all you want is your boyfriend/girlfriend to be by your side.

When you feel somewhat lonely or doubtful on where you stand, it’s important to be honest, call your loved one and tell him/her your thoughts. A majority of the time it could be one of you just being worried and needing that reassurance from your bae. 

Another key thing for couples in long distance is not to dwell on distance. Don’t listen to others commenting on your relationship or asking you, do you think it will work with you two being far away etc It will last! I personally feel like the more you think of it as a problem, the more unlikely your relationship will last.  

If your love is strong enough, you both can conquer the world. 

I hope this has helped anyone who is dealing with long distance! 

Have a lovely and safe midterm 🙂