Foolproof Tips to Stay Close With a Friend Studying Abroad in College

Studying abroad is a major life experience. As a freshman, studying abroad may not be in the cards yet, but it may be a real possibility for older college friends or a few select freshman friends. While your friend is away, be that best companion that Queen talks about in their hit “You’re My Best Friend.” Keep these ideas in mind while your buddy is an ocean away.

What Time is it?

Residing in two different countries often results in living in two different time zones. Depending on where your friend travels, this could range from a couple hours to half of a day. Learn what the time zone difference is. That will keep you from asking constantly, as well as being on the same page. Knowing what time your friend is in compared to you will be the difference of incorrectly telling them to have a wonderful day or to sleep tight. Luckily, the internet and apps on cell phones make the conversion easy to remember.

Face to Face

Skype is incredible in that it can keep loved ones close while apart. Did I mention it was free? When a friend is abroad, phone calls and texting are out of the question. That phone bill would be astronomical. Skype allows direct conversations with the feeling of sitting across from one another. The first few Skype calls may be emotional, depending how close you are with a friend, but nothing beats being able to see them. Take time out of your busy schedule to physically see them. To spruce up a Skype date, eat a meal together or Skype while each watching a show on Netflix. Despite being in different countries, it will make you feel like another Friday night when the two of you hung out in your room.

Facebook Albums Galore

Facebook can seem tedious, but Mark Zuckerberg didn’t create this social networking site in his Harvard days for nothing. One of the most obvious features is the ability to display photos. Chances are that your friend abroad is posting countless photos of their adventure. Sometimes the amount of photos can seem overwhelming or even make you envious, but these photos can help draw you into the experience. Comment on the photos and ask questions. Your friend is probably dying to tell all about the experience they’ve had. This will show your interest while also making you feel a part of the trip.

Thinking of You

Leave messages in their inbox or on their social networking sites. Tell your friend something that made you think of them that day. Perhaps it’s the grilled cheese served in the dining hall that you two often ate together. Or it might be the endless quotable lines in Mean Girls that the two of you so often repeat. Just telling your friend that you are thinking of them will make the homesickness of their experience lessen a little. Keep your friend updated on your life at home, and make plans for when they return. Their time abroad is an incredible experience, but knowing that loved ones are awaiting their return will make them just as excited to come home.

Keep Your Ears Open

One of the most important things friends do is listen. Your ears don’t have to be as big as Dumbo’s to catch everything your friend has to say. Just be there when your friend wants to tell about their time at the Vatican or with the country’s local people at a coffee house. Sometimes you’ll listen to happy stories, and sometimes the stories will be of a struggle. Be there to comfort your friend when they’re feeling stressed out or missing home. Just because the two of you are miles away doesn’t mean that you have to stop being true friends.

Studying abroad is a life changing experience, but it doesn’t have to alter your friendships. Keep close with a friend abroad while you’re home. Keep the relationship tight as you both grow and broaden your horizons.

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Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs is a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a News-Editorial Journalism degree. An avid bookworm, Rebecca reads all texts Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut when she’s not busy writing for The Black Sheep on campus. Back home, she spends a vast amount of time enjoying nature with loved ones.