Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Molly Peach-Girls Laughing At Night
Molly Peach-Girls Laughing At Night
Molly Peach / Her Campus

Maintaining Hometown Relationships: Beyond FaceTime

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with balancing your cool, new college friends with your old-but-gold hometown ones, you’re not alone. For many freshmen, this is the first time being far from home, perhaps away from the same group of friends you’ve had since elementary school, or your partner who you’d see every day at high school!

Personally, I moved from England five years ago, and found it incredibly difficult to stay in touch, that is, until my friends and I established routines and experimented with apps beyond FaceTime. Not to toot my own horn, but I still speak to this group regularly despite the 5000 mile difference, so it’s only fair I share my experience to help you keep a healthy balance while you navigate college.


I’m not lying when I say that this app will only take a minute from your day, but result in endless connections with your hometown relationships. Locket’s premise is straightforward; you and your friends are able to share photos that immediately appear on one another’s lockscreens as widgets.

I’m going to sound like every adult ever for a second, but the transition to college is quite possibly one of the hardest challenges we face. It’s even worse when you don’t have your usual support system to lean on. However, seeing your friends’ or partner’s faces on your lockscreen as you’re about to open a new Canvas grade on that test is an incredible relief. It’s proof that no matter what corner of the world you’re on, you still matter to these individuals, and while they can’t physically be there to encourage you, a small widget reminder is enough to nudge you to face your fears.


Have you ever ran out of conversation during FaceTime? Or you’ve discussed possibly every topic to the point you’re talking about the weather? Jackbox is a set of games designed to be easily played amongst a group physically or online. Set up a Zoom where one person can screen share, and have everyone join the game remotely through their phones. This works best with a group of around 4-5, so planning it may be tricky, but I’ve had Jackbox sessions that have lasted up to five hours with my friends, so I cannot stress enough how much it’s worth it.

I won’t drone on about the games themselves since every one is entirely different, but my particular favorite is “Quiplash.” It’s a simple premise: a prompt is sent to your phone, you’ll write a funny answer, and everyone will vote on the best ones. This is the best way to create new inside jokes that will keep you consistently connected. With FaceTime, I found that the same jokes were being recycled with my friends, but Quiplash created a new playing field with quotable hilarities every. Single. Time.


This one is well known but still deserves a mention. Hitting its peak in 2022, this app revolves around taking photos in the moment. You’ll get a notification at a random point in the day, allowing you two minutes to take a front-facing and back-facing photo right there and then. Oh, and they’re deleted everyday to promote its impromptu attitude.

Warning: this app yields the best results when you and your friends post on time! No one wants to see a late post of you in the middle of a concert with your hair perfectly placed like you’re in a movie; your hometown friends want to see you exist in your natural habitat. Even if it’s your walk to class, a dining hall dinner, or a study session, these small moments give them a glimpse into your life in ways that previous generations envy.


Similar to BeReal, Lapse acts as a disposable camera for your phone. Every photo you take through it cannot be immediately viewed, rather, you must wait for it to develop before sharing. Some may say, “isn’t it the same as Instagram or Snapchat?” but there’s a reason it’s on this list.

One issue I faced after moving to the US was being genuine through social media. Every photo was carefully selected, and every pose planned. It felt like a disconnect from my friends back home because they were only seeing the perfect highs of my day. But with Lapse, since you can’t see how a photo turned out instantly after taking it, there are many more spontaneous shots that you would be afraid to share otherwise. In order to maintain a genuine connection, you must adapt your friendships to include these moments, and Lapse certainly makes it less intimidating to do so.


I’m dedicating this one to the couples out there. The biggest issue with long-distance relationships is the lack of communication. It’s tough to be open and vulnerable through a screen, even more so in a completely new environment with new people. Paired is an app that can aid couples by presenting daily questions that range from light and uplifting conversation to deeper reflections on the relationship. Sometimes, putting thoughts into words is enough to strengthen your bond and resolve issues that may otherwise be pent-up and unattended.

The app even has a memory feature where you can store details and photos of past date-nights and adventures so that you can come back to it when your partner isn’t available to talk.


I recommend this for bigger friendship groups. It’s particularly tough to keep in touch with several people at once; it’s like juggling. Photocircle is an app that creates a group-chat without words, so that instead of texts, you add photos to your group that others can see in a shared sort-of camera roll.

You don’t necessarily have to treat this as another social media platform to drain you; it can be simple moments with mundane parts of your day so that your friends can catch up even when you don’t have time to talk. They could be walking rushing to their next class and taking a quick scroll through the group’s circle comprised with everyone’s daily errands, and this is enough to put some pep in their step and still feel like they hold a relevant place in your life.

Physical Letters

I know I promised a list of apps, but I have to include this. There is nothing more exciting than receiving an email from campus that a letter is waiting for you in your PO box. Handwritten words from a loved one hit me right in the gut. It’s physical, tangible evidence that your relationship is important to them, to the point where they want to show this to you in a more rewarding way than a quick text. It’s especially gratifying for us words-of-affirmation gals because this distance will evolve friendships you doubted when leaving.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just pick up a pen and paper and talk about your day, an update in something you two have in common, or how much you miss them, the topics are endless. Trust me, humans are a lot softer than we hold ourselves to be, and this form of communication will prove it.

Remember, distance does not end a relationship if you play your cards right. If you and your friends or significant other set a consistent routine with these apps, you’ll be able to visit your hometown with the same, or even improved connections that will add even more value and validity.

Alice is a freshman at UCSB studying English and French. Originally from England, she moved to California five years ago and loves her new home! When offline, she enjoys reading on the beach, devouring sushi, and singing poorly with friends on karaoke nights.