Three Ways to Keep Long Distance Friendships Strong

Students hanging out on campus.

Life as a Waterloo student is unique. Students settle down in one place for four months, only to find ourselves on the move once again at the end of term. Especially during the spring term, many of our friends could be scattered across academic terms, work terms, or taking a term off back in their hometown.

While our friends may fall out of stream with us, that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Here are some tips to help maintain strong connections with your UWaterloo fam – wherever they are!

1. Communicating

As with any relationship, communication is key, but you have to find a system that works for you. Instead of focusing on rules like “text each other every day” or “calling every evening,” take “communication” as a general idea to build upon and fit to your particular friendship. It can take the form of having meme wars on Discord, challenging each other to Facebook minigames, sharing delicious food pics in an Instagram groupchat, or even sending that morning Snap to keep up your streak.

Maybe you aren’t people that constantly want to be caught up in the minutae of eachother’s lives, then again maybe you are. In that case a quick daily message from a friend could grow into a full length call on Skype or FaceTime - and the feeling that no time’s passed at all.

2. Sharing Experiences

Something that underlies the idea of communication is the need to stay connected, and nothing connects you to your friends like shared experiences. If it’s possible, plan to meet up throughout the term. Invite a friend to spend a weekend exploring the new city you’re working in, or introduce a new Waterloo friend to your old ones friends from home at a holiday barbecue. If your friend is out of the country for a term, try to send a postcard or other significant trinkets to let them know how much they’re missed.

In the technological age, people continue to grow ever closer, so even if you aren’t in the same place, you can be doing the same things at the same time. Videogames are a great example; just plug in and team up to defeat all competitors on your server. You may not be able to meet each other in theatres for the latest blockbuster, but you can binge a new show on Netflix together and liveblog your reactions and commentary throughout.

3. Maintaining a Support System

Four months on a work term in an unfamiliar town with people you don’t know (yet) can be lonely. Without friends in the area to spend time with after work, the term can last forever. Keeping each other up to date on the successes and challenges in your life can help the time go faster. Just because your friends aren’t there, doesn’t mean they aren’t there for you.

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