Starting college brings all sorts of changes, one being the sudden separation from those we care about most: our friends- the people with whom we have some of the best memories, and we believe understand us like nobody else. I don’t think I experienced an entire day with a dry eye during the week I had to say goodbye to everyone from home. Even though I was only traveling about two hours away for school, my group of friends was being completely spread out, from home in Rochester, to Georgia, to the midwest. We expected that it would be difficult for us to catch up, especially with everything we were going to have to get used to as college freshmen- the schedule, the workload, and all of the new people. Each of us were looking forward to the prospect of meeting new friends and becoming involved in new activities, but secretly, I knew we all hoped that we wouldn’t lose each other and that nothing within our group would change when we finally reunited. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met many amazing people here at Cornell who I don’t doubt will be a part of the rest of my life, but it was really tough the first few weeks.

So, how do we go about maintaining these relationships with friends from home? We know that things will be different. I mean we haven’t seen these people, the ones we’re used to seeing everyday, in months! It might be slightly weird at first, but with Thanksgiving break around the corner, the one thing I know I’m looking forward to is all the dramatic run-and-hugs!

The main way for us to keep in touch with our home friends is, you guessed it, technology. As much as I love my parents, they freaked me out a little in the months leading up to move-in, warning me about not being as close with people from high school once we went off to college. “You’re all going to meet new friends.” “You’re not going to have time for each other.” Yeah, okay mom. Maybe this was their experience, with no easy way to connect at that time, but thanks to Snapchat, group messages, and FaceTime, I don’t think I’ve gone one day without some form of communication with my friends. It’s quick; it’s simple, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to to send a message or an unflattering picture of yourself to someone letting them know you miss them and that you’re thinking of them. No doubt that if our parents had these tools at their disposal, they would have a very different outlook on the preservation of high school friendships.

In terms of my friends, I think we’ve done pretty well. My worries about keeping in touch have subsided, especially with the fact that we’ve already made plans for Thanksgiving and winter breaks, including our third annual Friendsgiving! While Facetiming with one friend recently, he said something along the lines of “nothing beats our group,” and that absolutely warmed my heart.

I know I’m not an expert, given that it’s only my first semester here, but up until now it’s been fairly easy finding time to catch up. If you’re a freshman, or really any year in college, and are looking for simple ways to stay in close contact with both friends and family from home, here are a few ideas that I’ve found to be helpful:

  1. Set aside time to talk to friends

This is something that my friends and I haven’t exactly done, but I know other people here at school who have. Before leaving home, they made agreements with their friends to Facetime at certain times on a specific day each week that works for them. That way, it’s always part of their routine, persay, to talk with each other. While it may seem forced and a bit upsetting that you have to “schedule” someone into your life, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Remember, it won’t always be like this!

2. Walk and talk

I do this a lot. When else are you going to find a span of time when there’s literally nothing you can possibly be working on?  At Cornell, it’s a solid 15 minute walk anywhere you go, which is the perfect amount of time to say “Hi!” and talk about what’s been going on lately. Sure, most of the time we simply listen to music while walking to class or back to our dorms, but it’s so much better when you have someone there with you (even if you are huffing and puffing up the hills…I’ve been mocked for this many times).

3. Thinking of You!

Like I mentioned before, technology is a BLESSING when it comes to staying in contact with our friends; it’s really the only way. Sometimes college can get us down, but what makes it easier is having someone there to cheer us on and pump us up! A text every now and then to our closest friends, or even to someone you haven’t talked with in a while can go a long way. As cliché as it sounds, sending something simple like “Hope you’re doing well,” “Good luck on your exam today,” or “Miss you and can’t wait to see you in a few short weeks!” can brighten someone’s day, help them look forward to better times, and remind them that you’re still there to be their friend. Plus, it’s free and very convenient, especially if neither of you have time for a full conversation. Same goes for photos and videos, and Timehop can help us with this one. It’s always fun to relive good memories with good people. Another way to put a smile on someone’s face is by sending funny videos or memes their way, which in my opinion, is the most sincere form of friendship.

And once you’ve done these a few times over, you’ll find yourself back at home with them again soon enough!