Making It Work: Long Distance Friendships

The hardest part of going to college for me was separating from my friends. Sure, it’s tough leaving your family behind, but you’re always going to be connected to them no matter what; they’re your blood. And everyone seems to tell you you make life-long friends in college. So what does that mean for the friends you already have?

We called ourselves “The Gang” in high school. Along the way, we’ve lost some, and added new members, so to speak. But there’s something about our group that is different from a lot of the friends most people seem to have in high school. Lots of people we’ve encountered are shocked to hear that we still keep in close contact with, as they say, our “high school friends.” Those same people usually say they don’t really have any friends that they were that close to in high school, that they were more of friendships of convenience.   The Gang is different. When people told us we’d make our “life-long” friends in college, we were confused, because it seemed as if we had them already. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some friends in college, but it’s just not quite the same caliber of connection and understanding as I have with “the gang.”

It was scary when I realized we were going our separate ways: a few to OSU, one to OU, TU, KCAI, MU, and one remaining behind, still in high school. I was terrified of slowly drifting apart from them, one by one, while we all found our “true” friends. But that didn’t happen. And though we’re not even one year into separation yet, I can confidently say that it’s not going to. We’re open to making new friends, but we’ve all firmly realized that we have a place in one another’s lives, and that’s not going to change.

I decided to make a list of the ways that we communicate with one another to perhaps help out another “gang” who’s dreading the separation as much as we did.

1. Skype

Skype is my number one pick for a reason. It’s an awesome program that is free to use and download. Skype allows you to video chat one-on-one with other users, so you can actually talk face-to-face with your friends. It’s a great way to get a sense of where the other person is living, in fact, I used it to give a tour of my dorm room to my friends when I moved in last semester. Skype works for Macs and PCs, so there’s not a compatibility issue as far as that’s concerned. All it requires is a webcam/mic, which comes standard on pretty much all laptops these days. Our group also plans nights to have a group “skype” and catch up with one another. Unfortunately, video conferences are not yet available with more that two users, but the conference calls with voice are still a great way to keep it touch. Also, Skype allows you to take screen caps during calls, so you can capture embarrassing images of your friends like the one above!

2. Texts/Phone Calls

OK, this one’s fairly obvious, but I’m including it anyway, because simply texting someone about their day can open up a whole conversation, and ends up being a great way to catch up. So remember to send your friends a text everyone once in a while, whether you’re simply asking ‘What’s up?’ or ranting about something someone said to you that day. And, of course, phone calls are nice too, but that’s what Skype is for!

3. Facebook

Facebook is the most universal communication method our generation has. Use it to keep in touch! IM them with facebook chat (if it actually works for once), tag them in pictures that remind you of them, and use the “Events” feature to schedule skype conversations, phone calls and plans to hang out next time you’re together. It seems incredibly simple, and it is, and it’s probably the easiest way to get caught up with one another.

4. Snail-mail

Letters are a great way to keep in touch. They’re incredibly fun to receive and send. Above is a portion of a letter my friend Katie sent me identifying all the different smells in her room. Letter-writing is fading fast, and I think it’s a shame, because you can open up in letters about things that you might not want to express over the phone, or face-to-face. They’re a means of getting to know someone in a whole new way. Besides that, you can also sent them fun stuff and packages on birthdays, etc. Or sign them up for a bunch of ridiculous free samples, as I am also inclined to do. My friend Greg was careless enough to open an unidentified free sample of an adult diaper I happily signed him up for in public. So there’s hours of entertainment in snail mail.

5. Videos

This is something new our group has started. We’ve taken to recording bits of our days, editing them together, and sharing them with one another. Above is my first video of “The Emily Show.” It’s a really entertaining way to keep in close contact and get a feel for what the others are doing day-to-day. I definitely suggest it, because not only are they fun to watch, they’re also incredibly fun to create. If your digital camera doesn’t have a video function, you can always just use your webcam and/or create a slideshow using pictures you’ve taken, along with captions for the full effect. If you’re looking for an inexpensive, easy way to record video, I highly recommend the Flip Mino HD, which can be purchased from Amazon for under $150.

6. Meet-Ups

While all the above methods are great in terms of staying in touch, there really is nothing like being in the same room together. Meet-ups are essential to keep your friendship going strong. Hang out on breaks from school, as well as in between if possible. Plan your visits home simultaneously so you can spend time together then too. Don’t worry, it won’t be awkward after not seeing each other for so long. You’ll fall right back into step as if you were never apart. That’s why you’re friends. Because you just get one another.

1 comment
  1. Jessie said:

    I miss being able to be in the same room with those people. Sigh.


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