Studying abroad can be a fun and enriching experience, but it also means that you’re thousands of miles away from your college town for a semester, or even a full academic year. Different time zones can make it hard to catch up with friends via text and FaceTime (and don’t even get me started on the added cost of expensive international phone plans). Seeing your friends post-game day stories and BeReals from the library might make you miss your friends even more.
I’m currently studying abroad for a semester in Edinburgh, Scotland, but my friends are in our college town in Connecticut, and my family is in Washington. Juggling three different time zones isn’t easy, but while studying abroad in Edinburgh, I’ve found ways to keep in touch with my college friends that help me feel close to them. Here are some easy ways I keep in touch with my college friends that go beyond just calling and texting!
- Create a reason to talk.
When you’re at college, there are always little things to talk about with your friends — classes, the dining hall food, campus news — because you’re all in the same location. It can be harder to find those little things to talk about when you’re abroad, so instead create that little thing! For example, my boyfriend and I send each other a picture whenever we order a coffee. Even though we’re across the globe, the world feels a little smaller because we’re connected in that way.
- Listen to a collaborative playlist.
There’s something so special about sharing earbuds with your friend so you can listen to music together. While thousands of miles of distance makes that difficult, you can still share music with your friends with a collaborative playlist. With The 1975 and Taylor Swift releasing albums, there’s something new that you and your friends could listen to together, even when you’re far apart.
- Make a photo dump account on Instagram.
Many of my friends, myself included, created Instagram accounts to document the behind-the-scenes moments of our study abroad experiences. Posts, typically in the form of photo dumps, capture the good, the bad, and the ugly of studying abroad, from special memories in new countries to rough airport looks. Interacting with your friends through this account feels like you’re including them in the whole experience, not just the picture-perfect parts.
- Send postcards.
Before you go abroad, make sure you know your friends’ mailbox numbers so you can send them postcards while you’re abroad. While this is definitely cheesy, it’s fun to browse souvenir shops looking for postcards with the coolest pictures and illustrations and your friends will appreciate handwritten notes from your travels. Plus, postcards can be hung up on a wall or bulletin board to become a cute dorm decoration!
- Make plans for the future.
Planning something to do together when you’re back in your college town can give you and your friends all something to look forward to. Whether it’s something small like a late night ice cream run or a day trip to a nearby town, having something planned helps make the time apart feel shorter. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting Sunday morning breakfast with all of my college friends!