Living that Long Distance Life


Whether you’re going to school in another city, or just in the nearest town, moving away from the support system of friends and family requires exploring new ways to stay in touch. To keep up meaningful relationships, it helps to understand your communication style and others and make a plan.

1. Figure out your preference for keeping in touch
Some students like to immerse themselves in a new space, while others prefer to keep very tight and regular bonds with their family and friends while studying far away. A first year may want to talk on the phone at least an hour each day with different people from home, while another wouldn’t dream of spending that much time away from new friends at the university! Of course, your preferences may also change over time. Find your place on the spectrum, realizing that it may also vary for different friends or relationships.

2. Make a plan
In the same style of making playlists, making a plan to keep in touch with people should be flexible, customizable and fun. Remember that situations will change, and it is important to consider your timing. If you are planning for a semester of studying abroad perhaps it differs from your plan for the summer semester at home. If you enjoy setting goals, you can establish how often you would like to make contact. If you rather reach out only when you feel called to do so, it helps to be in touch with your own wants and needs in terms of communication.
– Close with your parents? Is a weekly call enough, too much, or just
– Do you have a best friend who calls every single day? If you need to set
boundaries, or set aside a large chunk of time, make a plan!
– Remember those friends who you always want to talk to, but never
remember to? Take the time to notice who you feel the calling to
reach out to and notice when in your day might be the best time.
Maybe it isn’t necessary to speak to everyone constantly.
– Have too many people to talk to and not enough time? Perhaps there
is a weekly family gathering where you can also chat with
grandparents or siblings, or a group of friends who could jump on
FaceTime together.
When making a plan, it is also important to recognize whether you prefer to have a set schedule or be a bit more flexible. First years at university frequently enter into a type of contract with their parents to speak once a week on a specific day and time. There are also breaks in the semester where decisions need to be made about
how best to keep in touch with those at uni with you! Do you spend more time together in person and have less contact when you aren’t in the same place? There is no right answer, it’s a question about finding what works for you in each relationship.

3. Voice notes, text messages, emails or phone calls
Ideas for keeping in touch with friends at other universities, or with friends and family at home, can be as diverse as the people themselves! A busy friend may prefer a daily Snapchat, while a grandparent would prefer a handwritten note once a semester. We all have that friend who writes us on Facebook Messenger and continues the conversation on WhatsApp before finally sending an email with the link they mentioned! If that grooves with your flow, wonderful. If you have your own preferences, make sure they are known! Introverts may joke, “if you’re thinking about calling me, just text instead” while more talkative types may leave voice notes the length of an audiobook. Less is more in some cases, so feel free to write a blanket email with updates that you can add friends and family to, like a newsletter.

Choosing to stay in touch can be a challenge, but it can also be a great opportunity if you make the communication work for you! Don’t be afraid to prioritize or experiment to see what feels right to make sure you have the support (or space!) you need while studying.