10 Best Ways to Maintain Long-Distance Summer Friendships

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You’ve completed another kick ass year of studying and extracurriculars, and you made some amazing new friends during the year and grew even closer with your #squad. But what happens when your bestie leaves to take an internship in LA, or your guy friend/maybe future boyfriend leaves for NYC, and meanwhile, you’re stuck in Chicago? Keeping in touch might seem as easy as texting or calling, but when it comes to those hectic schedules, it’s time to make a plan and get creative. And who knows, maybe distance really does makes the heart grow fonder.

1. Group Netflix binge

Nothing brings people together like watching an entire season of Parks and Rec in one day. Luckily, you don’t have to live in the same state to do it. Whether you decide ahead of time how many episodes you’ll watch a day or wait for your friends to catch up, this group mentality helps you practice selflessness in your friendships while you do something fun that, let’s be real, you’d definitely be doing anyway. You can even use sites like Rabbit to watch shows together or at least message each other when drama goes down on your favorite show.

2. Facebook

With some love and attention, you can actually use this social media site to maintain or even deepen your close connections with your friends. Northwestern junior Anelia Kudin, the first student at Northwestern from Ukraine, knows all too well how Facebook can conquer the issues that long distances present to relationships. “With Facebook, my friends can see when I’m traveling or when I’m at home, and we can message each other to not only share our summer experience but our future plans,” Kudin said. Whether you actually stop to look at all of your friends’ pictures on your feed and read every caption, or make sure to at least send them a quick message every day, you can turn Facebook into more than just a place to show off your #LifeGoals.

3. Video Chatting

Let’s be real: Skype and Facetime can be awkward. Whether it’s the unflattering angle or the poor connection, something always seems to go wrong. But getting to see your friends’ funny mannerisms and expressions can bring you together just like old times at school. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone can also show your friends the dedication you have to maintaining that closeness you had on campus.

4. Snapchat

A lot of cynics view Snapchat as just another selfish aspect of the “me generation,” but this easy way to send and view pictures can keep people in touch just like any old-fashioned letter or phone call. “Snapchat might show short-lived moments, but it still can provide a unique face-to-face contact of sorts. Just like they say, pictures are worth a thousand words,” Northwestern junior Lauren Duquette said. So embrace those filters and go through every single story, and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

5. Book Club

Watch out grannies, millennials are taking over book clubs. You might have trouble finding time to read for fun during the school year, but you probably have a book waiting on your shelf for you during the summer. Try finding a book that you and your friends might like and set a goal to read part of it every week. Then you can set up a regular time every week to talk about it and also catch up on what’s going on in your lives. That’s right, folks, book clubs aren’t just for grannies anymore.

6. See the Same Concert

Sure, ideally you’d be able to see your favorite singer with your friend by your side, but honestly, when an artist goes on tour, every show they play is the same. Hitting up the same show as your friend can allow you to talk about it afterward just like you were there together, even if one of you soaked up the sun in Cali while the other wore a cute fleece in NYC. Or if you consider yourself a superfan of a certain artist, you can even see them in different cities with different friends. True story: I once saw Ed Sheeran twice in the same summer, in Milwaukee with high school friends and Chicago with college friends. You can make it happen.

7. Road Trip

If you have the time, money and driving skillz, don’t let your summer vacation go to waste–take a #collegeroadtrip and see your friends! “With everyone working different jobs and internships, I want to go visit people in the cities they’re working in. If I plan it right I can see everyone in one go, which will be nice especially if they’re going abroad in the fall,” Northwestern junior Tiffany Anderson said. If you’re a Type A planner, you might even find fun in the process of planning this one, but either way the rewards will be great.

8. Texting

Yeah, sure, you probably text your friends every day even when you’re at school, but it means a lot to someone when you just check every so often to say hey. “Texting makes it so easy to stay connected. It’s definitely one of the better options for staying in touch when you’re spending long periods of time apart,” University of Wisconsin-Green Bay junior Taylor Ponczoch said. Sometimes people get so busy that they might not have time to respond, but seeing who does can also help you prioritize your friendships and see who wants to make time for you like you do for them.

9. Lively Group Chat

Texting is one thing, but keeping in touch with a group of friends can really foster the closeness in your relationships. Many of my inside jokes with friends come from typos or random late night convo topics in group chats, so you might be surprised at what happens when you get a few friends together virtually. I know for a fact that I still have screenshots from silly group chats from freshman year of college. Instead of complaining about a professor or stressing about finals together, you can just joke around together and bring the fun back into your friendship.

10. Keep It Real

Whether you take any of these suggestions or not, having a realistic plan can really help you actually, well, keep in touch. Recent Northwestern graduate Nicole Hemken plans to do this more than ever now that her friends might be leaving for good. “If there is someone I want to keep in touch with, it’s always easier if we decide ahead of time that we will Skype each other every other week or something like that,” Hemken said. People like to say that scheduling takes the fun and spontaneity out of relationships, but if you don’t coordinate your schedules, you might not have that friendship at all come September.

Hi, my name is Meghan and I'm a sophomore at Northwestern University. I've had a passion for creative writing ever since I was creative editor of my high school paper, and now I'm pursuing the creative writing major at the college level. I love writing in my own voice to help other people get through tough times.

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