Coping With Long Distance Friendships

If you’re anything like me, you still spend your free nights Skyping your friends from back home. Maybe you’ve found your niche in college life by now and you’ve made excellent friends on your floor and in classes. But you still chat with friends from home every chance you get, sending each other pictures of kittens and sharing cheerful and woeful college tales alike. It’s hard to let go of old memories and familiar faces when your bedroom wall is plastered with photos that remind you of the last days of summer, when you were dreading moving away from the people you love.

I asked my friends how they cope with the distance and this is the list we came up with.

If you haven’t already, download Skype. distance feel a lot less extreme.

Show them your dorm room, whether it’s over Skype or through pictures. There’s something very personal about knowing what your friends’ rooms look like, and giving tours is always fun.

Decorate your room with things that remind you of them. Not just photos, but silly things you bought together at yard sales or gifts that they gave you. For copingexample, I have a sheet of My Little Pony stickers that my friend and I won in a game propped on my desk, and a stuffed alpaca from the time we went stuffed animal shopping. Anything goes!

Take lots of photos. Share photos of your campus, your favorite place to study, and that little patch of flowers that you always walk by on your way to class. Take snapshots of your new friends, the view from your bedroom window, and trips to Target. Take photos of everything and encourage your friends to do the same.

Tell stories. It’s simple advice, but sharing college stories has helped me bond with my friends from home in a unique way. Make an effort to get out and live, have adventures, and get to know your new friends so you have plenty of tales to tell your old ones.

Make them gifts. Want to make your best friend a flower crown? Buy some flowers and wire, put one together, and ship it off to them! Or, if you’re a poor college student like me, scrounge Pinterest for inexpensive ideas. Whip up a treat with ingredients that you can find in your dorm room, or put that college-ruled paper to good use and make some cute origami!

Write letters. Letters are old-fashioned but they never go out of style. You can keep handwritten letters on your wall, in a scrapbook, in a box under your bed, or whatever works for you. It’s nice to see familiar handwriting, and sitting down at your desk with a cup of tea and one of those drippy pens that makes your handwriting look incredible can be really relaxing.

Save as much as you can. Become a hoarder for mementos. And don’t just save things from your old friends—save things from college life too. When you reunite over winter or summer break, you can share the memories.

Give these a shot! And even if you still miss your friends from home, just remember that the separation isn’t forever, and you can still keep up your great friendship during school. As one of my friends put it, “physical distance does not have to mean emotional distance.”

Editors’ Note: It’s okay to miss your friends from home and feel homesick at any point during the semester. If you’re struggling with homesickness to the point where you feel that it’s interfering with your day-to-day life, talk to your peer mentor or your advisor or schedule an appointment at the Wellness Center (410-857-2243), where you can talk to counselors who are there to help you cope with being away from home and transitioning to college.