April 8th, 2018 — match day — aka the day I found out I was accepted into a Dietetic Internship (DI). And not just any DI, but one that happened to be almost 3,000 miles away from my home with a combined masters program in nutrition science. The rush of emotion that came over me that afternoon was incredible. What wonderful news! I was accepted into a DI, a triumph that many dietetic students are denied.
For anyone reading this who is in the process of applying to or already in a DI, you understand. There is currently about a 47% match rate across the U.S. in the field of nutrition and dietetics for scoring a spot in a program. Landing an DI is absolutely something to be proud about. It’s a straight up accomplishment. As joyful and amazed as I was that I had been accepted, fear slowly seeped into me over the next few months as I prepared to move.
One night, about a month and a half before I was to leave for the program, I completely broke down. My loving and completely supportive, long-term boyfriend (Kevin) had been so happy for me throughout the process. He cheered me on through the ups and downs of it, just like he does with everything else in my life. That night as I cried and cried, he held me and told me I was making the right choice and that we would be just fine. And it was all of that amazing-ness he emanated that I was breaking down over. The fact that in about 40 days I would be leaving my comfort bubble and moving across the country was terrifying.
There was no way. I couldn’t do it. What if we weren’t okay?
I got cold feet. I seriously reconsidered my decision to apply to a program so far away.
Why of all places in the freaking world did I have to choose Buffalo, New York?
As a California, born-and-raised kind of girl, the east coast had always been mysteriously intriguing. In theory, moving to New York sounded like this adventure that I had the opportunity to take and may never have again. One that would not only be fun and exciting but loads of hard work with a life-long reward waiting for me at the end. When worded like that, the answer was clearly, “why not?” I had nothing to lose! Except my relationship.
Of course, I got on the plane and I went. And here I am, in Buffalo, New York, in my second semester of graduate work and more than halfway through the DI itself. Time has been flying by! It feels like I was just living in Sacramento with Kevin, enjoying the hot summer in our adorable midtown apartment, and here I am, beginning a master’s thesis and about to go home for spring break. Time is a funny thing.
I’m way looking forward to my spring break. I look forward to all of my breaks. Living so far away from someone you care about is a massive test of love. Kevin and I have been together for 6 years and a little over 8 months. We have been through a lot (pretty much all of our 20’s thus far). We have lived together for most of the time we’ve been dating so not cohabiting with him, not being able to just hop in my car and drive to him, and being in completely different time zones (3 hour difference) — is freakin’ rough!
I miss him almost every day. Yet, I know for certain that this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself, and for us. There are times when I would give anything just to hug him. There are days when I feel sick or like I want to cry because I just want to hold his hand. But these emotions are fleeting and they always pass.
You meet the most awesome people when you do these educational programs like this. I mean think about, you’re all in the same place, from all over, studying the same exact stuff, with the same end game. You’re all a bunch of nerds, geeking out about a common interest. Most of you had to move away from home, wherever it may be. There’s massive support among the group because it’s typically a small one (we are a group of 20 which is actually large) and you have so much in common from the beginning. These people become your closest friends. And they make a distant place feel like home.
As a grad student/intern, life is busy busy busy. The fact that Kevin and I are both busy actually helps our relationship a ton. I have rotation, classes, health fairs and side projects, so I’m constantly on the go. He’s currently job searching in San Francisco, California in the software engineering field, so his schedule is packed as well. This gives us both less down time to sit around and wallow in any kind of loneliness.
The reason I applied to University at Buffalo’s Dietetic Internship with Master of Science in Nutrition is because I knew it would push me to be my best. It’s crazy far away from home, it forces me out of my shell and to make new friends, and it opens up a whole new world of life experience. Yes, it meant I had to be separated from my boyfriend, but it’s just a physical separation. We are just as close and in love as ever.
I’m a very physically needy person in a relationship and the fear of growing apart or missing him so badly that I wouldn’t be able to function was REALLY real. But it’s not like we are separated for the entire length of the program (and since I’m doing a thesis it’s almost 2 years). There are breaks when I get to fly home and there are times when he is able to come out here and stay with me. Those times are next level exciting! It’s like you get those honeymoon phase giggles and butterflies all over again. And in between the breaks and the visits there’s texts (sexting is a thing and it’s great btw), phone calls, video chat (like via Skype and Signal), and ladies — I highly recommend a quality toy for yourself.
It’s been almost exactly 6 months since I moved. He’s been out to visit twice (once in September and once early this month) and I’ve gone home twice (Thanksgiving and Christmas break). We talk every single day. We make time to video chat at least a couple times a week. We send each other photos — all kinds ;). We lift each other up everyday and never go to bed without an “I love you.”
If you’re considering a program that’s far away and you’re in a long term relationship (or any relationship), don’t let that be the only reason to say no. Remind yourself that this internship and/or masters program is just a blip in time over the course of your life. The time will pass regardless. I can guarantee you that you’ll meet life-long best friends and have the most incredible experiences if you say yes. Once it’s all said and done and you’re a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, the only thing you’ll regret is ever doubting that it would be worth it (and you’ll have some amazing holy-crap-I-missed-you sex with your boo in the times in between).
If you have any questions about applying to programs and doing a long distance relationship, feel free to shoot me an email. You can also message me on Instagram @theflourishinggut and I’m happy to chat!
Natalie, future RDN