Upon hearing about a “long distance relationship” many picture significant others living across the country from one another, or even across oceans. However, there are many strong relationships in our lives that are impacted by the distance that exists between us and those we love—one of the most important of these being the relationship we have with our family members. Whether you’re anticipating a six-week-long sleep-away summer camp, the first semester of college, time abroad, or a cross-country move, living apart from those you love the most can be a challenge, and we’re here to help you “go the distance”.
The likeness of social media has made long-distance and international communication near constant, however, there are many factors of a relationship that can not be conveyed virtually. One’s body language, facial expressions, or personality may not necessarily translate during a video call or series of text messages. In order to avoid miscommunication in this respect, it is important to consider the disconnects that may occur when expressing oneself through an online platform. Be sure to share with your loved ones how you’re feeling, and do not be afraid to fill them in on the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your family and friends back home will support you no matter what, and it’s important to ask them for help or advice when you need it.
With this being said, when transitioning into a new living environment or culture, it is important to limit contact with those from home, since it may make the adjustment more complicated. If you regularly find yourself wishing for familiar people and situations, it keeps you from exploring and becoming more connected to the present moment and the opportunities that surround you. This may be difficult for both parties, so in order to distract yourself from feeling isolated, make a “bucket list” of places you would like to visit in the country or area you’re new to. Once you have a fair amount of confidence in your friend group and your new home, reach out to your family and friends and fill them in on what they have missed.
Since we all live busy lives, it may be difficult to hold individual conversations with each loved one every time you wish to update them. Another way to get your message across is by sending a general email regarding your experience abroad, at college, or across the country to those you would like to update on your life. Your friends and family will appreciate that you thought to keep them in the loop and also value their time. Doing so will also allow recipients of the message to reach out with questions or maybe their own updates. Be sure to share pictures and experiences with those you love so they can be sure that you’re continuing to learn alongside them, even if you are halfway around the world.
Some may believe that “snail mail” or sending letters has become obsolete in the face of a world run by technology, but that could not be farther from the truth. When sending a letter, the exchange of information becomes more visceral, and adds a personal touch to the words you share. Additionally, many towns, cities, and colleges have postcards that can be sent to those that are far away. Postcards allow you to share a small blurb of writing, a picture that illustrates your new home, and can even serve as a collectible item.
It is entirely normal to feel homesick when moving away from the things and the people you know. It is also expected for those that you move away from to miss you. The most important part of any relationship is communication and with a plethora of new ways to hold conversations with those around the world, fostering international relationships has never been more possible. As they say, distance means so little when someone means so much.