How to keep in touch with friends and family while you’re at college

photo of someone talking on their phone by the window
Anthony Angel Pérez/Staff

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When I first moved to Berkeley, I was confronted with an all-consuming homesickness. As an international student, the transition to college was tough: I missed my room, my parents, my friends, my dog and basically my whole life back at home. Regularly calling home and staying up-to-date with my family’s everyday affairs eventually became my key to coping with feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability. 

What we often don’t realize is just how essential it is to maintain these relationships. For starters, I’ve found regularly keeping in contact with my family and friends to be surprisingly productive. It helps me escape the stress of a busy college life and reminds me of what’s actually important. It provides comfort and familiarity, helping me stay grounded. Additionally, calling home can help you deal with the challenges that come with being independent at college. I call my parents whenever I need some advice, and the honest feedback and guidance I receive helps me approach difficult situations with more confidence. 

If you find that staying in touch with family and high school friends is more difficult that you anticipated, that’s natural! Here are some ways that have helped me. And if a phone call isn’t your cup of tea, worry not — we’ve got your back.

Make it a part of your routine

Keeping in contact with people takes time. For me, it’s a commitment that I make every day and it’s not a small one. The secret is to make those daily connections a part of your everyday routine. This guarantees that you won’t neglect those relationships and allows you to effectively manage your time. For instance, every morning I usually call my boyfriend while having breakfast and my parents when I’m having dinner. Before bed, I make sure to check in on my long-distance friends and respond to any other messages from the day. And every single Saturday morning, I call my best friend, my grandparents and anybody else I had promised a phone call.

Spotify collaborative playlists 

Spotify’s collaboration feature allows you and your friends to team up and make the ultimate playlist together. I have a couple of these with my friends where we add songs that remind us of our times together, or songs we think the other person might like. 

Videos

Snapchat is my time zone lifesaver. I love communicating with my friends via recorded videos because it’s entirely flexible. You may think you look funny sending recorded videos of yourself speaking, but I find this is one of the easiest and most time-efficient ways of staying in touch with my friends who are abroad.

Virtual movie nights

This might take a bit more time and effort, but it’s also more interesting than your regular phone call. I love having virtual movie nights with my siblings back home. Simply use Netflix or Amazon Watch Party and you can both watch the same show or movie without any glitches and also chat in real time, as if you were watching the movie together.

Going to college can often mean leaving behind your parents, friends, significant others, pets and all the other people that were a part of your life back home. Although time differences and busy schedules can sometimes get in the way, it’s important to form and maintain regular communication with family and friends. 

Contact Salma Sarkis at [email protected].