It’s just about the time of year where summer’s coming to an end and college is rising up on the horizon.
For sophomores and upperclassmen, this is no different than past years. Just another move-in, whether by plane, car, or train. But for freshman, this is about to be an entirely new experience.
When I moved in for the first time, it was all a new world to me. I’d never even gone to a sleep away camp before and had no idea what to expect.
There’s a lot that comes with starting college. So much that it’s hard to explain it all in just an article. Rather, I want to focus on one of my main worries when I started: keeping in touch.
For me, I was going to a college that was sixteen hours away driving. I had to take a plane just to get there. I was leaving behind my family, friends, and home.
Because of this, I was so worried about losing my friends. Since sixth grade, I’d had these three friends who were closer to me than anything. We’d gone through everything together – it was that typical coming-of-age best friends story. We took tests together, had long slumber parties, and applied to colleges at the same time. We even found out our decisions together, which was very emotional and a little disappointing, especially when we realized we’d be extremely far from each other.
Not just far as in a couple hours. So far that we each had ended up in a different corner of the United States. It would be really difficult to visit each other.
Sure, we’d been friends for nearly seven years, but that didn’t stop me from worrying this would be too much for the four of us.
I realized many other people faced a similar issue. Whether it’s with a long-distance relationship, a best friend like it was for me, or just family, it’s horrifying to imagine these relationships weakening from distance.
And because of my situation, I found a few ways to make things easier and keep these friendships alive and well in spite of it.
The first and most important thing is communication. Periodic communication makes it easy to stay connected and keep your friends updated on what’s happening in your life. For my friends and I, we made it a rule to always Facetime on Sundays at 10 PM eastern time. I even drew up a whole contract (obviously, not an official one) that we each signed and kept copies of. And even though I’m usually terrible at remembering things, we all managed to generally keep to this schedule.
Every Sunday, we got on call and just talked – about college, our new friends, people we found cute, really anything. We talked just as we had throughout high school when we were seeing each other every day.
It really worked. In a way, it felt like we were still together. So, if you have friends that you really care about and don’t want to lose touch with, try setting up a time to meet each week over Facetime. We’re lucky to have the ability to video chat, and there’s no reason not to make use of that.
Even with video chatting once a week, I still ended up feeling a bit lonely; which is where my second tip comes in: bring something to college that connects you to those you love. Before I left for college, I created these little maps with pins showing where each of my friends and I were going to school. I brought this with me and hung it up on my wall. I made four in total so my friends could also bring them to their dorms.
It reminded me of home and this connection we still had. It was an object that all of us shared. Just having that reminder made me feel more comfortable going into college.
That’s why it might be a cool idea to make necklaces that you and your friends share or some other small trinket to bring with you. Bringing pictures also helps a ton. I printed out at least three or four sheets of photos and hung them up in my dorm as a reminder of where I came from.
Still, it can get hard at college when you’re surrounded by people and places you’re not used to. This is why the most important tip to staying connected is seemingly the opposite. Yes, it’s important to keep that thread that attaches you to your home and the people there, but at the same time, you don’t want to constantly be pulling towards it. The best way to stay happy and feel comfortable with the distance is to make new friends.
I was scared of replacing my old ones. It sounds silly, but I’m sure this is a feeling many of you have had. Beyond that, I was more terrified of not making any at all, which made me want to just keep to my friends from home and never move on.
The problem is, if you’re too terrified to move on and meet new people, you’ll never get anywhere. You have to open yourself up to new relationships and creating a new home.
For me, this was the best thing I decided to do. Once I found people that I truly meshed well with and loved dearly, I felt much more comfortable with the distance and less reliant on the people back at home. This, in a way, improved my relationships with my friends from home – it showed that we were able to branch out and make our new relationships while keeping the ones we had strong.
I love my friends from college as much as my old friends from home now. I don’t know if I just got extraordinarily lucky, but the friends I made my freshman year made me a better person. It’s gotten to the point where it’s hard for me to be home this summer because I miss them so much.
Which is why moving in this year is even more difficult for me. My first time moving in was last summer where I was terrified of losing my friends from home…but this time, for my sophomore year, I’m transferring to a new school. Now, I’m terrified of losing my friends from freshman year.
Even so, I feel more confident now than I did last year that things will be all right. I’m already planning on using some of the aforementioned tips to keep in touch and stay connected – this time both with my home and with my home away from home. Don’t worry so much about losing people because in the end, things tend to work out.
As long as you care enough, staying in touch should be a breeze.