two people sitting next to each other and smiling for an article about friendship
In between making plans to reunite at each other's campuses or at home, you can keep in touch with friends through social media, video calls or snail mail. (Illustration by Julie Chow, University of California, Berkeley)

5 Ways To Maintain a Friendship From Home While at College

Writing letters, planning visits or just taking the time to regularly text between classes will help keep a long-distance bond strong.

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two people sitting next to each other and smiling for an article about friendship

Writing letters, planning visits or just taking the time to regularly text between classes will help keep a long-distance bond strong.

No one says all your high school friendships have to end when you leave for college. Yet too often, you hear how physical separation because of college will cause a friendship to fizzle. After all, once you and your friends leave, you might find that your closest friends from home now live thousands of miles away. How do you continue developing a friendship with so much distance between you? Here are five simple, practical tips on how to transition a high school friendship into college.

Carry On the Conversation

While you may not be able to meet for coffee on a random Tuesday afternoon to chat about your week, there are still plenty of ways to carry on the conversation. In fact, today’s technologically advanced society makes it easy to converse through ever-expanding lines of communication. So even when you’re thousands of miles apart from your closest friends, you’re really only a phone call or a text away. If you’re bad at remembering to reach out, set a weekly reminder on your phone to text your friends and see how they’re doing. Call a friend or send a voice text when you find yourself with a few moments of free time while walking to class or between errands.

There are also plenty of options if you prefer to maintain a friendship with face-to-face communication. You can FaceTime, Skype or Zoom a friend, or you can use social networking apps such as Marco Polo, Snapchat and HouseParty to send and react to pictures and videos at any time. Keeping up with one another’s social media accounts like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok can also help you stay in the loop with what your friends are doing — beneficial tools for when you can’t come up with something to talk about. This list of apps is just the beginning in a long list of technology that will help you keep the conversation flowing.

Write a Letter

Tired of being on your phone all day or want to try something different? Ask for your friend’s address and write them a letter. There’s nothing better than receiving snail mail in your mailbox. You can be creative with your letter: Fold it into a cool shape or a surprise message pop-out card, come up with your own secret code (don’t forget to include the cipher) or create your own design by hand or online for the front of the card.

Sealing the envelope with a wax seal and sprinkling a bit of confetti into the envelope are also fun ways to spice up traditional letters. Although it’ll take a few days before either of you will find a letter sitting in your mailbox, the anticipation (or surprise) is worth every second. Moreover, your friends will greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into writing out your thoughts and questions.

Plan a Trip Together

If you enjoy vacations, how much more fun would it be to plan one with your closest friend from home? Make a combined list of all the places you’ve been dying to travel to, find a date you’re both free and do it. Whether it’s a big city, a mountain retreat, a road trip out West or a backpacking adventure across Europe, it doesn’t matter. The key is to set aside time to make memories together. Don’t be afraid of the planning process or the potential difficulties of organizing your excursions.

If you need advice on how to best navigate budgets, destinations or airlines, Scott’s Cheap Flights offers a quick guide on how to travel with friends without stressing yourself out. SmarterTravel also provides a beneficial list of questions to ask as you think about traveling with friends, such as, “What is the most important thing you want to get out of the trip?” that will assist you both in figuring out what to prioritize.

Invite Them to Your College for a Weekend Visit

Merging your college world with your world from home might feel a little scary or potentially awkward at first, but hosting a friend from home could lead to some really special college memories. If you’re hosting, take them to your favorite spots — your go-to afternoon coffee shop, the best burger joint in the city, the most delicious dessert place and everyone’s usual late-night hang out. Introduce your friend from home to your new college friends and allow your worlds to collide. Plan activities like going on a walk around campus or attending one of your college’s sports games. Give them a self-guided tour of your school’s campus as well as one of the surrounding cities.

However, make sure to leave some time to just hang out or watch a movie on the couch. Don’t stress about filling every minute of their trip with plans; instead, focus on spending quality time together. You can also incorporate some of your favorite foods and activities from home if you run out of ideas or you’re feeling homesick.

Try an Online Club or Activity

Everyone loves a good movie — so why not make it a movie night with your friend from home through a watch party? Both Netflix and Amazon Prime have recently added this feature to their streaming services, with many others soon to follow. Virtual watch parties allow you to watch a movie synchronously with up to 100 other people. You can even send messages in the chat about your emotions, reactions and thoughts on the movie as you go along. Wired offers a quick guide on how to set up a virtual watch party.

Another way to maintain a friendship from home is by figuring out what hobbies you share and discovering online options. There are all kinds of fun, niche activities you can become involved in, from fantasy football teams to interactive video games that allow you to play with friends. Some authors have virtual book clubs that meet each month –– there’s even a tea party book club you and your friend could try. Don’t be shy — put yourself out there and give it a try.

Whether you’re preparing for college, already in college or well past your collegiate years, these tips can help you traverse the complexities of maintaining a strong long-distance friendship. Be intentional to keep the conversation flowing. Write letters back and forth. Plan trips together. Invite your friends from home to come visit your new “home away from home.” Test out different online clubs, organizations and activities. Follow these tips, and you should have no reason to worry as you head into the next season of life. Your friends from home are just a call, text or trip away.

Writer Profile

Julianna Steen

Auburn University
English Literature, minoring in History

A few of my favorite things include reading romance novels, watching action movies, baking (and consuming) anything chocolate, creating for my business, He is Simply Goodness, and going on adventures with friends and family!

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