So you’ve made the big decision, you’re moving abroad... whether for 1 year or 10, whether a 3hour flight or 24hour flight, whether for work or school or adventure. I’m sure you figured making that initial decision to go was the biggest part of it, yeah you’ve considered what you may do for work, where you may live, how you’ll manage your experiences but at least for me, the biggest thing I didn’t account for was how to manage my soon to be long distance relationships.
I think in my head I automatically assumed maintaining relationships wouldn’t be that difficult because:
1. I was moving to Barcelona, which to be frank, everyone wanted to visit anyway.
2. It wasn’t like I was seeing all of my friends on a daily occurrence anyway so what would a few months between visits matter, plus I just automatically assumed I’d be back semi-frequently.
3. I’m also great with people and maintained friendships during undergrad so this should be easy
The reality of it all hit very fast and very hard. Almost 2 years later and although I believe I have an algorithm that has worked for me, there are definitely people whom I wish I better prioritized or maintained better friendships with.
So first thing first “Know Your Friends”. Who needs more attention than others, who would feel a way if they don’t hear from you and who wouldn’t mind? I have friends who regardless of where I am (at home or abroad) I could speak to once a year and we be fine. Also don’t take the complete burden of keeping in touch. Yes you’re the one abroad, but they’re away from a friend as well. Speak to your friends and figure out what their schedules are like and when is good to schedule maybe a weekly/monthly/bimonthly catch up, and try to stick to it. Try not to have to reschedule, but if you do SHOW UP. Nothing is worse than bailing on a catch up too many times, you guys will get annoyed with one another and that can lead to all kinds of complications.
Make reminders and take notes. Regardless the reason you’ve gone abroad, odds are you’re very busy and have a time difference to account for. So there is no shame in setting reminders, even mass reminders. Also we’re at an age where all of us are doing big and different things that are important to us; so I try to take note of my friends different endeavors, and if they have something important coming up I take note of that or may even set a reminder to ask them about it. I’ve set a reminder to text people to see how something went or to wish them luck. Does that mean you don’t really care or pay attention? NO, quite contrary, I think it shows that you care a lot, enough to know that it’s important to them which makes it important to you and you want to stay in the loop about it.
In this same fashion I try to have a day in the week that I use for me, typically Sundays, and I use this day to recharge and call people back or initiate phone calls. Also you have more free time to…. FACETIME.
Speaking of facetime, there are tons of apps made to make communicating with people in different places easier. Now I understand American’s tend to not like WhatsApp. I get it, I didn’t either until I moved abroad; but soon realized it’s my saving grace and the most convenient way of communication. It’s literally telephone calls/ video messages / and text messages in one app. WhatsApp takes up little to no space on your phone, as well as little to no data, and it’s kind of fool proof. There’s also facetime for us apple users, and skype for the old fashion folks.
Although these types of communications work wonders nothing is better than scheduling IN PERSON VISITS.
Friends who have friends abroad, you need to know it’s important to us that you visit or make plans to meet us halfway, it shows you’re committed and care, also just the same if you can’t visit (which is understandable) make sure you see us when we come home to visit. Nothing peeves me more than a “friend” who claims to want to see me but doesn’t take the time or make the initiative to see me when I go home to visit. To make it easier for myself I typically schedule one event per visit that could be a group activity, so people can come at their will and have the opportunity to. I’ve scheduled going to certain bars for happy hours, specific restaurants for brunch, and even night outings. (peep an example of a real schedule I’d made)
Lastly don’t cut people off or go crazy if you realize at some point you haven’t spoken to “such and such” for 3 months or more. If they’re actually your friend, they know you’re busy and they’re probably busy too. I bet you money soon as you make that phone call to them you’ll be on the phone for hours catching up on what’s missed.
Not only are you embarking on this new adventure but you’re also seeing everyone from back home moving in different directions as well and this can make you feel a false sense of anxiety like your friends are actually moving on from you. TRANQUILO.