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How To Keep in Touch with Friends Abroad

It’s the start of another great semester at UNC, but some of us may feel like something’s missing. Maybe it’s your best friend, roommate or boyfriend, but no matter who it is, long distance relationships can be tough … especially for five or so months.

Between the time difference, busy schedules and crazy experiences you’re having without them — and vice versa — there are some fun ways to make the distance a little less taxing.

The first thing you need to do is set up a plan with your friend abroad. For example, agree to communicate in some way every week or a few times a month. Figure out the time difference and when will work best to talk between both your schedules. This way, both you and your friend are on the same page. After that, here are six ideas for making it work:

WhatsApp: Luckily, we have advantages through technology that make communicating across the world easier than it’s ever been. Perhaps the most common way we communicate these days is through texting. For less than a dollar, you can download this app on any Smartphone and send messages to anyone anywhere without cost. … It won’t even feel like they’re gone!

Email Photo Albums: Although I’m sure your friends will be posting their great adventures all over Facebook, there’s something more personal about sending photos directly to someone. You can download Picasa or some other web album creator for free on your computer. This way you can edit all your pictures and then send albums to your friend over email. Send each other picture with captions and explanations to make each other feel more a part of your experiences.

Skype/Skype App/Facetime: Aside from written communication, you’ll definitely miss seeing your friend’s or boyfriend’s face while they’re gone. Through Skype, the Skype App, or Facetime on your iPhones, you can have a face-to-face conversation just like you were together at school. Keep in mind time differences and plan ahead for when both of you are available to talk.

Care Packages: Sending packages internationally can be expensive, so maybe this is something you only do once or twice while they’re away as a special surprise. An idea I got by watching How I Met Your Mother is to send them a box of things that will remind them of Chapel Hill—a T-shirt from student stores, fliers from around campus, pictures of the Old Well, their favorite snack, etc.

Traditional Letters: There’s always something exciting about getting a letter in the mail, so become “pen pals” with your friend abroad. Write each other a letter a month or every few weeks with updates about what’s happening in your life. This way you both have something to look forward to, and you can write the letters whenever your schedule allows.

Pair App: If it’s your significant other that’s abroad, the most popular app for couples right now is Pair App. You can only be “paired” with one other person and it allows you to send texts, share photos and locations, sketch pictures, and much more. There’s even a feature called “thumb kiss” where your phone vibrates when both you and your partner touch the same spot on the screen. This app is making long-distance relationships easier than ever.

In all, it can be hard when someone you care about is hundreds of miles away, but they’ll be having amazing experiences in different cultures and foreign countries, and you’ll be enjoying the greatness that is Chapel Hill. And with these techniques, it’ll be easy to stay connected and involved in one another’s lives.

HerCampus wants to know other ways you’ve stayed in touch with friends abroad!

Pictures:
Appadvice.com, What’s App (photo): http://appadvice.com/appnn/2009/12/whatsapp-gets-an-update-lets-you-now-…
Wikipedia.org, World (photo): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World 

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