Whether it's your best mate or your S.O, long-distance chats can be tough to keep up. Olivia Hanna gives us her top tips to stay connected.
College has been over for a month now and those post-college summertime blues are starting to kick in. Nobody misses cramming for deadlines, washing their housemate’s dishes, or living off of Cup Noodles and frozen pizza, but it’s hard not to be nostalgic for college life. College brings people together; bonding between last minute study habits, meeting strangers in club bathrooms, surviving life with your housemates, and for some, beginning relationships. But during the summer, everyone heads back home and distance can drive a sharp wedge into the bonds that have formed. Everyone has Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram, which makes letting everyone you’ve bonded with know exactly what you’re up to, but it’s still not the same as actually being together.
As an American International student in Galway for my whole BA, I know how hard it is to really keep in touch. I have an even amount of friends in the US and in Ireland, so no matter where I am, I’m constantly trying to find time to make meaningful conversation, video chat, and spend time with the friends that I’m physically with. At the end of the school year, I also started dating someone, so to head back home so soon into the relationship was a new challenge for me.
I’ve come up with some tips to help close the gap whether you and your friends/ S.O. are a 4-hour long Bus Éireann journey away, or an ocean apart.
1) Be aware of each-other’s schedules
Having an idea of what one another’s plans are for the day makes it easier to communicate, makes the other person feel like a part of your life even from miles away, and helps avoid any angry feelings if someone can’t come to the phone. It’s silly, but sometimes if someone can’t answer my message, I automatically assume that they’re not responding on purpose. More often than not, they’re just busy with other important things. If I know that they’re going to be busy it helps those negative feelings from creeping in. And if you’ve received and seen a message and have a second to spare, sent a quick one back just to say that you’ve seen the message and will reply when you have more time to respond with care!
2) Video chat like a pro
Texting, snapping, and tagging each other in memes and puppy videos isn’t very effective for longer-term, long distance communication. Everyone has devices and apps that support video chat, so take advantage. With busier people, try and set up a time that works for both of you at least a week in advance, but don’t be afraid to suggest a video chat if you’ve been messaging back and forth for a while! At first, video chat can be a little awkward too, but try and focus on the person you’re missing and after a few calls, it’ll feel like they’re there with you!
3) Have an object that reminds you of them
Technology is a great tool for helping ease the ache of missing someone, but instinctually, I think we need physical reminders of peoples’ presences in our lives.
Try to have little objects other than pictures that remind you of the people you miss the most. A piece of jewelry you can look at and wear on the tough days, a letter with their own unique handwriting and ridiculous inside jokes, or any small thing that brings back a flood of memories when you look at it. It goes without saying that all girls will need to steal a shirt or two of their boyfriend’s to smell once in a while (gross, but true). Sometimes, being so far apart for so long makes me forget what it’s like to be in the company of those I love, but having real, tangible things around me is a great way to remember the special and important times spent with loved ones.
Despite these tips, the reality of any long-distance relationship is that it can be an incredibly difficult time. Friends, family, boyfriends or girlfriends, dogs, cats, and everything in between: they make life special and no amount of texting, calling, or remembering can replace the void left by their absence. So while you follow the steps above, do so with the following in mind: take each and every day one at a time and don’t dwell on the length of time you’ve been apart. Take time to let those you love know you love, miss and appreciate them, and be honest with them. Before you know it, you’ll be together again and when you are, enjoy every last moment.