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The GW Hatchet

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From high school sweethearts to cross-Atlantic romance, grads share their long distance love stories

Sage Russell | Senior Photo Editor
Emma Ramos and Elias Muniz show their love over FaceTime.

From scrounging for affordable plane tickets after class to placing late-night calls spanning time zones, maintaining a long-distance relationship while earning a degree can seem daunting.

But graduating GW seniors in long-distance relationships shared that they were able to keep their love alive from thousands of miles away. By balancing the already-grueling workload of a college courses with the complexities of a virtual relationship, long-distance couples not only put in double the effort compared to short distance ones, but learn more about communication than any Intro to Comms class could teach. 

Whether it’s down the coast or across the Atlantic, these couples prove that love is alive at GW, no matter the distance.

Valentines since high school

Emma Ramos, who graduated last semester as an international affairs and Spanish double major, said she met her high school beau, Elias Muniz, in an orchestra rehearsal on Valentine’s Day in 2019. She said they were the only two violinists to complete a playing test, landing them next to each other in the ensemble. Whether this was a stroke of fate or a mere coincidence, the pair’s bond as music stand partners quickly blossomed into an over-five-years relationship.

In 2020, Ramos started her first year at GW remotely, taking classes online from her home in San Antonio, Texas, with Muniz attending a community college nearby. In 2021, in-person instruction at GW resumed and it was time for Ramos to move to the District, leaving Muniz more than 1,600 miles away. Muniz said although long distance would be hard, he knew it was the best option for the pair’s relationship. 

“We both had been with each other long enough at that point to kind of have this trust in each other that we could make it work,” Muniz said

Ramos said the difficulty of flying across the country from D.C. to San Antonio, Texas, meant the couple could only see each other once a semester and on long breaks, so they texted and FaceTimed every day.

“I think a lot of people would think that’s too much, but I like talking to him and we’d basically just talk about everything,” Ramos said.

With Ramos currently working full time in the District and Muniz attending law school at St. Mary’s University in Texas, the couple said they will stay long distance for the time being. But Ramos said she has high hopes they can reunite to work in the same city within a few years. She said the experience of long distance was valuable because their love has preserved.

“If you think a long-distance relationship will make you happier in the end, then I think it’s worth it,” Ramos said. “It’s definitely doable.”

A study abroad love story

Despite the beautiful Chilean landscape that greeted San Larson during her summer 2022 study abroad program, the graduating senior said she met her now-girlfriend, Nnanda Allick, in a dingy COVID quarantine room on her second day in the country. 

Isolated with each other for a week, Larson, who is graduating with a degree from the Milken Institute of Public Health, and Allick, who graduated from the University of West Florida in December, hit it off, fortunately for their own sanity. After jokingly agreeing it would be “homophobic” to not have girlfriends during Pride Month, they started dating.

The couple returned to their separate schools in fall 2022, and Allick said the pair made the six-state distance between Florida and D.C. more bearable by planning virtual dates with itineraries like face masks or drawing each other. Larson said when they make the trips to visit each other about once a month, they focus on just “existing” by hanging out or cooking for each other instead of going out.  

“One thing really nice about having those moments in person, that I think a lot of people who do have constant in-person time don’t necessarily acknowledge as much, is you can practice building your community with that person,” Larson said.

With Larson heading to grad school for environmental engineering at Northwestern University in the fall, the couple said they plan to move in together near Northwestern and start a new chapter, using the lessons learned from their time apart. Allick said having to find ways to connect while being physically apart made them “grow stronger.”

“It forces us to communicate better, very clearly and very often and have the hard conversations,” Allick said.

Graphic by An Ngo | Graphic Editor

Sharing sunsets and shows

Griff Evans, a senior who majored in international affairs and finance, said he would have “fumbled” if he did not ask Michelle Weber, a student at Heidelberg University, to be his girlfriend after a romantic Valentine’s Day date in London last year.

Evans said they met studying abroad last year at King’s College and knew they would have to savor every moment together before Evans returned home to the states and Weber moved back to her home in Germany. Since watching the sunset over the London skyline on their last night in England, Evans said their compatible “life philosophies” devoted to following their passions have made it easier to navigate the ocean that stands between them.

“It’s important to show up for the other person because it’s so so easy to feel lonely and neglected in a long-distance relationship when the one person you want to spend your time with is not there,” Weber said.

When they’re not making the eight-hour plane trip to visit each other every few months, Weber said they have weekly dates that reflect how they usually spend time together in person. As movie and television buffs, Weber said the two often spend weekends virtually analyzing shows and watching movies.

“What I recommend for people is just find something that you do in person that you can also do while you’re online because it makes you feel more familiar,” Evans said.

Evans said the couple didn’t want to “curtail” each other’s futures and careers by trying to live together immediately. Weber said instead, after finishing a three-year master program, she hopes to move to New York City, where Evans has a post-graduation job lined up. 

“At the end of the day, we both are big on what we are passionate about,” Evans said. “We both understand that and respect that about each other.”

D.C., Dublin and beyond

Dylan Weiss, a senior graduating with a degree in international affairs, said he met Sanni Autio, a history student at University College Dublin, in a Northern Irish History class during his exchange at UCD last year. After chatting with each other after class one day, Weiss said they became closer and closer as friends until officially becoming a couple in March, even though their time before Weiss had to return to the states was dwindling. When the semester came to an end, Autio said they both left with an air of uncertainty, unsure of the next step their relationship would take.

“The big thing when we left Ireland was that we didn’t really know when we’d see each other,” Autio said.

But more than a year later, Weiss said they have visited each other five times, flying between D.C. and Dublin, with each reunion marked by ending countdowns and heartfelt airport pickups. Autio said just getting to “be in the same company” after months of relying on phone calls and Snapchat messages is the best part about their visits. 

After graduation, Weiss said he plans on working in the District for a couple years before looking for a job in the concert or museum industries in Dublin. Weiss said he has wanted to move to Europe in adulthood since high school but has moved up his timeline since being with Autio.

“It went from within 20 years to like, ‘I want to go there as soon as possible,’” Weiss said.

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