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Experiences

Long Distance Friendships

At the time of writing, I haven’t seen one of my closest friends in 478 days. When I moved from South West London to the USA just over two years ago, the excitement of a new country and the proximity to the Big Apple quickly faded to missing my old friends. I missed the simplicity of texting my friends to arrange a meet up and promptly seeing them an hour later. The walks after school to the train station, still laughing over something that had happened at lunch. Grabbing a coffee after school. Being able to have fluid conversations, unrestricted by time zones and the unreliability of skype. While I was able to visit last year for a few days, the easy return to our old routine was quickly shattered by my return to the USA, as we became oceans apart once more.

Now, as university (and Covid) forces the majority of our friendships to shift to long distance, we are forced to find new ways to connect with people. It’s hard having conversations that flowed so easily being interrupted by the unpredictability of Zoom. Juggling the endless piles of uni work and making friends while staying in touch with old ones - it’s a balancing act. Sometimes you’ll find that people aren’t willing to put the effort into staying in touch, but there will be far more who are.

Unlike the generations that came before us, there are so many more ways to stay in touch. A couple of months back, I suggested to one of my friends that we should vlog our day. After trying to ignore the odd glances I got from students looking at me talking to my phone (and feeling really awkward), I decided to do little interviews with the friends I saw throughout the day. We complained about our teachers, mimicked Vines and filmed the grim food my sixth form offered at lunch time. Despite passing off the whole thing as ‘cringy,’ I have actually enjoyed watching back the vlogs I did, especially seeing as school went virtual a few weeks later. If you don’t feel like channeling your inner James Charles, you could try online games like Skribbl and Among Us; or decide on a time each week to Zoom. Yesterday, I decided to write a letter to one of my friends at university. Despite the fact that lockdown has caused my already terrible handwriting to get so much worse and I doubt she’ll be able to read it, it was oddly therapeutic writing about the shows I’m watching and my university syllabus. Fingers crossed that Hermes doesn't lose it.

 

By the time I arrive in London for university, it will have been 560 days since we’ve been apart. And even through the challenges of time zones, dodgy internet connections and travel bans, this experience has brought us even closer together. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

 

Helena is a first year at King's College London, studying global health. Though her family lives in New Jersey, she grew up in South West London. In her free time, she loves creative writing, making too much pitta bread and watching true crime documentaries. She loves sunny weather and is always looking for an excuse to head to the beach.
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