Study abroad student makes America home following engagement

Myra Krieger-Coen

When he received the letter of acceptance to the ISU Study Abroad program, Flinn Milligan’s heart stopped. He clenched the piece of paper in his hands as his thoughts suddenly tumbled around his head.

“It was a proper dream, coming to America,” he said. “Everything I was expecting came from various films from the past 40 years. I was expecting a lot of different things, coming from England.”

One of the things he had not expected to do while in America was meet his fiancee.

Bailey Finn, recent graduate of Iowa State’s culinary science program, remembers their first conversation, or rather, argument.

“It was about cheese,” she laughed. “I was insisting that the best cheese in the world came from Wisconsin. Then he kept calling me a home economics major. Even though he came off a little bit of a jerk, it was in an enduring way. I kind of already liked him.”

When they went out, Milligan repeatedly insisted on a certain type of outing.

“I was always making Bailey do American things with me. Getting a pretzel at the mall, going to a bowling alley and drinking a beer; old time classic American stuff, that sort of thing.”

“It was fun,” Finn chimed in. “We did things you wouldn’t normally do during the school year. We would take off to go hiking for an evening — just the two of us.”

With 30 days left until Milligan’s visa expired, they made a spontaneous road trip to San Francisco. The end of the trip meant two things: saying goodbye and deciding just where their relationship was going. They decided to stay together.

Milligan explained the decision: “All along, we said we would do it as long as it was fun — we knew it was going to be difficult and unlike typical relationships. We would stop when it stopped being fun, and it hasn’t stopped being fun.”

In May, Finn flew to England to visit and was met with a ring.

“Not being with her wasn’t an option,” Milligan said. “We both knew we wanted to be together, and getting married is the only possible way of achieving that. It allows us to have a life together, not a life over Skype or through letters.”

Today, the couple lives together in California. Every three months, Milligan’s visa requires him to leave the country and prevents him from finding employment. Marriage will put an end to that. 

“In the future…” Finn started, and was interrupted by Milligan yelling from the kitchen that hopefully he will have a job.

“In the future, yes, hopefully Flinn will have a job, but we just want to live a normal life,” Finn continued. “No visas or other problems. We’ve waited three years to be a normal couple.”

While a date for the wedding has not been set, the couple anticipates it greatly and speculates how much their lives have drastically changed in such a short time.

“When I said coming to America was like a proper dream, even in my dreams, I couldn’t have imagined this,” Milligan said. “It’s been quite the experience; I grew up a lot from it, but all the greatest things in my life have been with Bailey, so growing up is OK. I traveled, got engaged, moved to California. I didn’t just study abroad; I made America home.”