By Yara Al-Wazir
It’s no surprise that in the fast-paced digitally assisted life that we live, things change. When moving away for college, it’s important to realise that you’re not just changing your address, but you’re moving on to a completely different life. A life where you will inevitably meet completely different people, make new friends, new enemies, have that much more drama, and of course hopefully end up with a degree after 3-5 years, depending on your destination. But as much as where you are going matters, it is important to remember where you came from, and the people who helped you become the person you are today. As hard as it is to do so, it’s important to keep in touch with your family, friends, and loved ones.
I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes, yes, relationships fall apart. People don’t just move away, some move on. Maybe you want to move on from every one or maybe you want to move on from one person, it’s okay either way. But for those who matter, here’s a guide on keeping in touch:
Calling? Ain’t nobody got time for that. With time zones, schedules, deadlines, and habits to consider, it’s difficult to find a time when both parties are free for a phone call. I’ll assume for this piece texting is your preferred contact method.
Take time out of your day
Friendships shouldn’t have to be about making an effort, but if you’re risking losing a relationship completely, then go ahead and make the effort. Make it a habit to take time out of your day, anything from 10 minutes to an hour, exclusively spent keeping in touch. Start new conversations, text an old friend, pick up the phone or send a message on Facebook. The tools are endless.
Keep in mind the time difference between yourself and the person you are texting, especially if you’re expecting a semi-instant reply.
Utilize and Embrace Technology
It’s here to help you keep in touch, and being driven crazy by the constant never-ending updates to your smartphone is a small price to pay for long-lasting friendships.
Whoever invented group chats on Whatsapp, or any other texting service, is an absolute legend. Set one up for family, high school friends, soccer buddies, or the group you used to jam with in middle-school. It works wonders, and it’s absolutely amazing how much sending a picture or a meme of an inside joke can reignite memories and make you laugh.
I use my ‘family’ group every morning to make sure both my parents know that I’m alive and well. It saves me from texting the same thing twice, and I’m sure it makes both my parents feel equally loved and missed. Occasionally, I’ll even text them a picture of myself, captioned “in case you forgot what I look like.”
Not only are group chats a great way to keep in touch with all your good friends from back home all at once, they’re also a good way to keep in touch with your new college buddies when you go home for holidays.
Socialise on Social Media – don’t just stalk
It is part of social media etiquette – like photos on Instagram, reply to Twitter updates, and comment on Facebook statuses, even if they’re all boring. Don’t just be a consumer, be a contributor. Social media isn’t about letting people know what you’re up to, or knowing what people are up to, it’s about interacting with your friends, keeping in touch, and finding things you never thought you had in common. Sure, it’s annoying when friends post a photograph of themselves at the gym every single day, but let’s face it, they’re doing it for the attention. Don’t just stalk their progress at the gym, go ahead and give them the attention they want in the form of a motivational tweet. Once they’ve achieved their objective of letting everyone know they work out, they’ll stop with the photos.
At the end of the day, digital communication can only go so far, it’s nowhere near as warm or fuzzy as hearing your mother or your best friend’s voice. You don’t necessarily have to use your international minutes to call your friends; you can use one of the many applications on laptops, smartphones, and iPods to hear their voices. A meaningful conversation that lets you catch up properly will probably need planning in advance, but it’s worth it. Trust me.
At the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do to keep in touch. Some people will forget you, others will move on, and some will ignore your calls. There’ll always be that small group of friends whom you only see and speak to when you’re back in Kuwait, but there will also be that group of people who’ll keep you sane when you’re away from everything that is familiar. Change is inevitable, and the people you meet at college will most definitely blow you away. It’s important to not hold on to the past so tightly that you forget to enjoy what really matters: the present.
Yara Al Wazir is an activist and student currently based in the UK – her monthly column reflects on her experience of moving away from the familiarity and comfort of Kuwait, to the UK in pursuit of a university degree. She can be reached via Twitter on @YaraWazir.