4,485 miles. This was the distance between my home, (the place where I lived most of my life, the place that still belonged to my family and friends), and my new home, the place that would forever mark a chapter of my life full of adventure and exciting new friendships. Being very family-oriented, not much time passes between phone calls with my parents ,and being in a long-distance relationship made communication while abroad even more important to me.
When it comes to keeping in touch, I have both good news and bad news. As you may already know, it can be quite difficult to keep in touch while abroad and the conversations will very likely not be as frequent. The good news is that with today's present era of technology, it has become so much easier to communicate that the hardest part is simply the time difference! There are so many new applications that allow you to communicate from halfway across the world through Wi-Fi, which many places in Europe offer free of charge. Who doesn't love free? Some of the more popular apps include Viber, WhatsApp (which was also popular in Germany and a good way to communicate with friends abroad as well), Skype, FaceTime, or other text messaging apps. You can get them on virtually any device with internet capabilities and they are a good alternative from having to purchase an expensive international phone plan.
Being far away from home without those closest to you is no easy feat. It will definitely take some getting used to but there are so many adventurous distractions to take your mind off home and focus on the new world around you. However, it is important to remember that while you're abroad distracted by exciting new opportunities, your friends and family still miss you. Sometimes a week would pass with minimal to no communication with home and it became important just to let them know that I was still alive, learning, and thriving. A blog is one way to share your experiences with those back home and it can also be a good way to remember and reflect on everything you're going through. I loved reading the blogs of my friends; however, if you're like me, it became easier to communicate and post updates on social media. I am probably on Facebook too much as it is, so it was very easy to even send a short message along the lines of, "Good morning! I ate a delicious pretzel and now I'm going to class. Miss you!"
Just like at home, everyone has separate schedules so it can sometimes be difficult to get them to coincide properly. You will be busy with school, friends, and traveling, while the lives of your friends and family won't stop either. It is okay to be busy and as I said, the time difference can make talking regularly a bit more difficult. One of the best ways to deal with this is by scheduling a time in advance that works out for you both. Or even the designation of a specific time each week can be helpful. For example, will you be very busy at 4:00 pm on a Sunday? Don't worry about frequent communication, your loved ones know that you are busy exploring and creating new memories. It's what you're there to do! If some time passes with little communication, don't sweat it. They'll understand and they'll still love and miss you, just as you'll still love and miss them.