How to Deal When Your Friends Are Going Abroad

You want to feel happy for your friends when they’re ecstatic about traveling the world and immersing themselves in a new culture, but it’s difficult when you realize this comes with saying goodbye for several months. What’s even worse is that feeling that you’re being left behind while your friend is meeting boys with accents and eating decadent food. It’s a bittersweet situation, but here are a few tips on how to cope while still being a supportive friend.

1. Be supportive

Your friend is about to embark on a journey of a lifetime. There are few opportunities in life that allow you to travel for months at a time without any demanding responsibilities (besides the actual classes you’re taking abroad). We're young, hungry for opportunity and excited about how blessed they are to have this experience.

It would be insensitive and cruel to make your friend feel bad about this. You’re allowed to express your concerns about missing them, but be supportive. Help them pack and listen to their concerns about international travel. Maybe do some research and help them learn some languages if need be. They’ll surely miss you and remember your kindness when they come back.

Kasey, a sophomore from the University of Michigan, says, “I’m not going abroad this year, but my best friend is and it honestly sucks we’re going to be away from each other but what can I really do. I just have to be cheering her on because that’s what a good friend does.”

2. Transform the jealousy into gratitude

It’s one thing to be sad about not having a certain opportunity, but to take it out on your friend is another thing. Yes, her classes abroad are probably going to be a lot more luxurious and exciting in Italy than at your school, and you’re going to feel a little jealous. However, you should transform that jealousy into gratitude for what you have now.

Sarah* a junior at The College of New Jersey, says, “It’s hard seeing people take pictures under the Eiffel Tower while you’re studying in the library, but it’s easier knowing you’re working your way towards being able to go abroad one-day."  It’s not all for nothing. No, you may not be touring ancient art museums in class, but you have other opportunities many wish they had. Be thankful for your loved ones, health, and the education you’re pursuing! Sometimes, focusing on what you have is healthier than focusing on what you don’t have.

Related: Why It's Okay If You Haven't Found Your Best Friends in College

3. FaceTime (or Skype) your friend

There will probably be a time difference to tackle, but reaching out to your best friend via FaceTime or Skype is the next best thing to being there in person. I’m sure you’ll want to hear all about their travels abroad, and they’ll want to hear all about life back at campus. Catch them up on what they’ve missed at frat parties, and it will be just like old times. Sharing new experiences with each other can keep you guys connected.

Molly*, a senior at Lehigh University, says, “My best friend and I studied abroad different semesters our junior year. We were inseparable before then so we thought it was going to be torturous but it was actually a lot of fun being able to meet new friends and catching each other up on what we missed.”

4. Make the most of your time on campus

While your friend is abroad you may feel like your life is at a stand-still back on campus, but it’s not! You have around three months to make new friends, tackle new classes, and have just as much fun on the campus you’re comfortable with. Take advantage of the semester and join new clubs. Perhaps get ahead in the career search and visit your university’s career center. Maybe explore your college town to find new restaurants and picture spots! There are so many options for what you can do this semester. Your time is just as valuable on campus.

5. If you have the resources, visit your BFF

This step isn’t feasible for everyone, but while you and your BFF are missing each other, you could be visiting each other. If your friend is studying abroad over spring semester, you could potentially visit her during your spring break. Again, this is just an idea to toy around with, with varying degrees of possibility. But I thought I’d throw it out there for those willing and able to visit their friend abroad.

We hope this helps you girls that feel a little left behind. The best thing is to do is to be there for your friend, while using your time wisely on campus. Good luck!