Being far away doesn’t mean that you can’t stay close—it may just means you have to take a little bit of a different approach. Here are easy ways to get out of your communication rut and connect with your long-distance friends.
Optimize Your Phone Calls
Picking up the phone sounds obvious enough, but when your job, family, S.O., new friends, and errands are filling up your every minute, it can feel almost impossible to spend an hour chatting with your pals. So, if you find yourself strapped for time, weekly or bimonthly conference calls are a great answer. Set a standing date—like every Tuesday night or the last Sunday of the month—and catch up with your five closest friends all at once. Better yet, make it a Google Hangout so we can see your friends (and grab mimosas and have a virtual brunch!)And while group calls are great for close-knit groups, and for events like birthdays, wedding planning, and when you have major news to share—sometimes you need the old-fashioned one-on-one calls, too. Even if that means talking once a month instead of every week, you’ll feel more connected when you keep up these calls. If it’s hard to find time after work, try to squeeze them in on your commute or while going for a walk.
Use Social Media (Beyond Facebook)
Stick to a Communication Schedule While Abroad
There’s no point to having communication apps if you aren’t good about actually using them. It is easy to become busy and have three days turn into three weeks -– next thing you know three months have passed and everyone is upset. If you stick to a communication schedule you can combat issues that come with time differences, voicemails, and missed calls. Schedule a call that works with both time zones on a day that is usually the least busy for the both of you. Seek a quiet space to connect and stay true to avoiding distractions, as partial attention can feel hurtful on the other end. Try not to keep the conversation one-sided: while everyone wants to hear about your trip, they may begin to feel left out if the conversation is all about you. Ask them about their day, milestones, and news. Follow up with previous discussions to show you were listening and ask them to send photos of what’s happening back at home. It goes without saying that you should never say “Happy Birthday” only on your good friend’s Facebook wall. (Call. Or better yet, send a card!)
You Can Also Chat Over Email: Emails are great: They allow you to get as in-depth as you would telling stories over the phone, but you can type them out in public or at 3 AM and not embarrass yourself or wake your friends.
Send Real Mail: If you’re really feeling disconnected, or aren’t quite sure where to start with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, ask for her address, be old-school, and send a card. There’s nothing like a note from a friend in your mailbox to brighten your day, and it’s a great way to pick back up where you left off, even if it’s been a while.
Plan a Trip
Whether it’s heading back to campus for homecoming, meeting up in New York or Chicago or San Francisco once every six months, or going to a concert this summer, there’s no substitute for actually seeing each other. If your friend is a car-ride away, plan dinner or a day trip a few months in advance, and ink it on your calendar. If it’s a flight, start saving for a vacation. Yes, it can be expensive—but even if it’s only once a year, getting together will make a huge difference in keeping your friendships alive. Plus, you’ll get to make a new set of memories, in addition to the ones you’ve been missing from the past.