I never thought of confessing my feelings to this other person as anything but a last resort to nuke the friendship. Something along the lines of I have feelings for you but this is inappropriate and I need some 'time out' from you until I get my head straight.
As for this other person being a regular"friend I do genuinely like her as a friend and person. I'm not faking my friendliness as those feelings are all genuine. If my relationship survives friendliness is all there will be.
What would have to change for me to be content? 1. Getting that degree and finding a secure job. 2. My girlfriend returning to the US and finding a secure job. The first is within my control. The second is not. We tell each other we love each other and hope we can be together again. That's all I feel I can do. My feelings for my girlfriend are also genuine. It's not black-and-white.
I'm getting all this moralizing but no solutions. What do you expect me to do? Passively wait for several months to see if my relationship succeeds or fails? When this is the only long-term relationship I've ever been in and I am deeply afraid I may never find another such relationship ever again?