There’s a lot of talk about the challenge of maintaining long distance romantic relationships in college, but what’s typically unspoken is the importance of sustaining long distance friendships. After graduating high school and moving on to college, our friends somehow become our “high school friends,” a label which belittles all that they are. Just because you and your friends from high school likely have chosen different paths post-graduation doesn’t mean that they have to become part of your past at the expense of your future. We all know that life as a college student is busy, but it’s so important to prioritize your long distance friendships. Try out these five easy, fun methods to get into a routine of keeping up with your friends, no matter how far apart you are.
- Check in on your friends every week
If you find yourself forgetting to check up on your friends, set a day of the week to send them a text—it’s as simple as that. Wish them a good morning, ask them how their week is going, see if they have anything exciting coming up. As you keep up with this habit, you’ll be able to stay up-to-date on their lives so that your lives don’t feel so separate once you’re able to reunite in person.
- When you think of them, tell them
This one’s pretty self-explanatory: when you see or think something that makes you think of your friend, tell them. It can be anything from a Harry Potter TikTok to a puppy you pass on the sidewalk to a random memory that popped into your head. It’s always nice to be on the receiving end of a kind, personalized message like this, and anything that brings a smile to your face and makes you think of them is meant to be shared.
- Reminisce about the past; plan for the future
It can be a lot of fun to talk about what you have in common: the memories from years past. Especially now, when life is completely unrecognizable from what it was even a year ago, and full of so many unknowns, it can be comforting to ground yourself in good memories that have already happened. It offers us a little sense of control in our lives, and can be entertaining to look back on in the process. In addition to that, update each other on your goals for the future, whether you’ve figured out your major or have started planning a best friends road trip for when it’s finally safe to travel again. We need fun events to look forward to right now, and even if we don’t know when these things will happen, it’s important to still look hopefully towards simpler times.
- Set up a FaceTime or Zoom
When you have a little more time on your hands, treat yourself to a FaceTime or Zoom with your friends. It’s so refreshing to see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices, especially if, like me, your social interaction outside of a screen is somewhat lacking these days. You can have a catch-up session and just talk, or get a group together to play Among Us or host PowerPoint nights. It’s not quite the same as being all together, but usually it can still make you smile or laugh until you cry.
- Exchange letters or care packages
Since the majority of our interactions with friends are currently limited to our phones, it can be grounding to receive a physical reminder of your friends. It’s so exciting to receive boxes or letters in the mail (and support the postal service while you’re at it!), especially around the holidays or if you know your friend has an important or stressful week coming up. You can exchange trinkets representing your respective schools or send treats that make you think of them. Anything will be sure to be appreciated!
From my experience, keeping in touch with my friends who now go to different schools has been keeping me happy and sane throughout 2020. While it’s obviously not the same as getting together in person, there’s something so comforting about talking to the people who just know you, your friends around whom you don’t have to try to be anything other than yourself. Staying up-to-date with your friends from the past is so important to keeping them in your life. FaceTiming and texting my friends from home honestly feels just as reassuring as a warm hug. Tell the people in your life that you love them and are thinking about them; it’s sure to benefit both you and them.