For many people, college is the first time they are away from home for an extended period of time, and it can be difficult to stay in touch with friends and family from back home. Here are some tips on staying in touch with loved ones, no matter how far away they may be.
Tip #1: Take advantage of Skype. It’s free (even for group calls), and you can keep in touch with people all around the world. It’s also nice to be able to see your parents/friends/siblings/grandparents as you talk to them. Make sure to also set up your parents with a Skype before you head off and if they aren’t great with technology, do a practice run while you are still home to help them out.
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone! If your grandparents don’t have internet or if your parents don’t answer on Skype, call them! I’ve also found that sometimes it’s easier to talk to my friends on the phone rather than Skype them. If you have a limited number of minutes, you can use your Gmail account to call for free anywhere in the United States (you might want to forewarn the person you are calling, as it will come up as a random number they don’t know).
Tip #3: Make a blog. A blog, either private (and shared only with certain people) or public, can be a great way to keep your loved ones up-to-date on your life. It doesn’t have to be fancy- just write about the things you are doing and post pictures. I definitely recommend a blog if you are traveling abroad, as people will want to see all of your photos and hear about your adventures.
Tip #4: Send letters. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but who doesn’t love getting mail (that’s not bills)? I’ve also found that this is a great way to stay in touch with people that are very busy, as they can respond when they have the time instead of trying to find a time you are both available to talk on the phone or Skype. You can use regular notebook paper and normal letters or get pretty stationary- either way, your friends or family members will love hearing from you.
Tip #5: Send an email. Again, this sounds a bit old-fashioned, but I love getting emails from my grandparents and cousins. This is a great way to share what you’ve been up to, and you can send it to multiple people at once. One of my cousin sends all of us an update on his life a couple or few times a year, and I always love getting his email.
Tip #6: To keep in touch with your high school friends, try to schedule Skype dates and phone call dates. If you had a close group of friends from home, it can be nice to schedule a date with the whole crew. That way, you don’t have to repeat what you’ve been up to with each individual friend. It can also be nice to have an ongoing group conversation on Facebook.
Tip #7: To keep in touch with parents, try to schedule a time each week when you can devote an hour or two to talk to them. I like to Skype with my parents/siblings on the weekends when I’m not as busy, but do whatever works for you. When I’m bored and don’t have anything to do, I try to remember to call my grandparents as well, since I know they don’t call me because they think I’m too busy.
Tip #8: To keep in touch with your siblings, schedule Skype dates and start ongoing group conversations on Facebook. My brother and I also exchange weekly emails that summarize what we did that week.
I think the biggest thing to remember is just to make an effort. We’re not all perfect and there will be times when you’ll slack, but it’s really important to make the time to stay in touch with the people you love. You’ll be glad you did!