Moving away to University is an extremely daunting experience, but it doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye to your old friendships. You cannot deny the feeling of ‘a fresh start’ when you arrive at a new city during welcome week and it raises the question of; how will you maintain old relationships whilst still making new ones?
According to a recent University of Oxford study, moving to University has a detrimental effect on childhood social circles. The average undergraduate loses 40% of their existing friends every six months if they do not take steps to maintain those relationships. The good news is that connecting with old friends and family is very easy and I have put together a guide on how to do it successfully.
Organise virtual catchups
It is easy to unintentionally forget about old relationships when you are busy making new ones. A great way to ensure that you touch base with everyone is to schedule ‘catchups’ into your diary. That way, there is no excuse not to put aside some time for old friends.
Choose a videocall rather than a phone call
Phone calls are great but videocalls are even better, especially if you are missing the faces of your loved ones. They create the sense of being in the same room together, no matter how far you actually are away.
Arrange virtual activities
Just because you cannot connect with your friends and family in person, it does not mean that you cannot do things together. Playing games and watching films are still possible through video massaging apps and can give you something fun to do. Check out my blog on ‘making the most out of virtual hangouts’ for ideas on how to make virtual interactions entertaining.
Create group chats
A group chat is very easy way to bring old friendship groups together, especially if you all end up living in different cities.
Meet in person when you can
Whilst remote communication is very convenient, there is nothing quite like meeting in person. It is important to set aside time when you can return home or, alternatively, arrange trips to go and visit friends at other universities.
(It is important to note that, during this global pandemic, it is imperative to check the government guidelines and national restrictions before arranging a meetup.)
Send gifts in the post
Whilst you may not be able to go and celebrate birthdays and holidays in person, a thoughtful gift goes a long way. It does not need to be expensive and can be as small as their favourite chocolate bar or simply a homemade card.
Keep the pressure off
Everyone leads extremely busy lives, especially those starting University for the first time. Despite having so many communication options, it can still be hard to keep in touch. If you do not hear from someone for a few days, do not worry! Take the pressure off and just arrange a catch-up at a mutually convenient time. I have friends that I do not see for years but when we meet up it is like we were never apart.
If differs from person to person as to the extent that you wish old relations to be a part of your new university life. My partner has always been a huge part of my student life but it is important that you find your own balance whilst at University. Communication is the most important way to maintain any relationship, long distance or otherwise. You will need to maintain a balance between closeness and taking a step back to allow yourself time to grow as an individual.