As college students, we hear all the time about long-distance relationships and how hard they can be. However, we barely talk about long-distance friendships. I think this is weird because, although highschool relationships can be very long and impactful, most of us probably truly grew up with our high school or hometown friends. We consider these people our family, and one day we are suddenly scattered all over the world. Because we are all excitedly doing our own thing and building new friendships, it is easy to ignore the fact that we are still going through a long-distance friendship.
Personally, whenever I put too much thought into it, the fact that I miss my friends from back home hits me. As an international student, my highschool friends are scattered all over the globe – from different cities in the U.S., to Europe, and even back home in Panama. Affected by differences in lifestyles ranging in everything from culture to time zones, it can at times be very hard to stay in touch. Last semester, I was one among only a few of my friends that actually went in-person to college. This made it harder for me to keep in touch with my friends who were at the most part all back in Panama doing online school. However, this semester I have put much more effort into keeping in touch with them, and it has made all the difference.
Whether it is a call, a random facetime, texting throughout the week or even just sending each other TikToks, having my friends from back home still be a part of my life has made me feel so much better at a time in college when it is easy to feel lonely. You do not have to have some elaborate schedule or even spend too much time with them, but if at any point in this school year you have struggled with your relationships, I would encourage you to start treating your hometown friends as if you were not miles apart. Some things that I have started doing are sharing with them the things that happen to me at Notre Dame and introducing them to my new friends. Even when you guys will not completely grasp the details of each other’s lives since you are not there to watch each other live them, it will help you feel like the bond between you still exists.
You will obviously not maintain this level of closeness with all of your hometown friends. As much as you loved them in high school, college is still the time to grow independently from whatever your past was. People will change and grow apart, and that’s the magic of it. However, if you have friendships that you appreciate and with people who you know can grow with you, working on maintaining them can be the key to keeping your sanity while away at college.