I’m enjoying my time here abroad in Lithuania. I’m not normally the type of person to miss home or my family while traveling. I am someone who fully believes that to grow and become an adult you must leave your nest and explore for yourself. Traveling makes you grow. You will become someone new at the end of your experiences. This doesn’t mean that you need to stop contact with everyone back home. This doesn’t mean that you lose your friendships and bonds with the people from your home university. In a way, study abroad can help these relationships grow stronger.
The way to help these relationships stay strong is knowing how to communicate while abroad. Here are a few ways that have helped me keep my friendships strong while here in Lithuania.
Facetime Dates– The first week I was here I called my mom on facetime every day. The time difference made things a struggle. I found myself being totally exhausted in the morning because I would stay up late to talk to my family. The thing I found helpful was to set times for facetime dates. I only allow myself to have three facetime dates a week so I don’t get overwhelmed or get caught up in life back at home. I always make sure that my immediate family is one of those three facetime dates then two of my friends for the others. Limiting the time to talk to my friends and family makes room for us to catch up on the past week. If you dont have facetime then you can also use Facebook messenger, skype or any other video calling site. I suggest video calls because they are free on wifi! The last point to note about this is to only give yourself thirty minutes to an hour. Dont spend all night talking on facetime. Set a time that is good for you and your friend/family and keep yourself at a limit. (PLEASE NOTE if you are struggling and need to talk to someone this is an exception. There will be a few days in the semester where you just need to talk to your mom and get things off your chest.)
Letters– Before I even came to Lithuania my best friend and I had decided that we were going to write letters to each other. I have enjoyed doing this so much. I am always on the lookout from a nice postcard from a new place to send to my friends and family. I write in detail about the place that I am in and how my time is going. I try to write about the smells I smell and noises I hear. My friends have enjoyed this so much. Although don’t expect to receive a postcard back. Your friends and family probably won’t send you something from your home, but they normally write back and its so nice to receive a letter from someone you care about.
Keep a blog or new Instagram only for your semester abroad– One thing that has helped my family and friends feel close to me while I am gone is my blogs and Instagram posts. This allows you to have a platform to express yourself and how you are feeling while abroad. Your family and friends can watch as you try new foods, meet new friends, and grow into the person you are becoming. You can always get your grandparents, parents, brothers, and sisters, and friends to sign up to follow you on Instagram or your blog. It’s also super cool to look back and remember your experiences once you are back home. You will have made a cool platform to always go back and think of your time abroad.
Don’t forget to make plans for when you are back home– It is so easy to have such a good time while you are studying abroad that you forget eventually you will be coming home and life continues after your time abroad. Be sure you remember to keep in contact with your professors at your home universities so you can make your class schedule for when you are back. Also, try to make sure that you plan welcome home parties for when you arrive home. Schedule in coffee dates with your friends. It can be easy to have reverse culture shock when you arrive home and if you surround yourself with the people you missed it will help make the process easier.
I hope these four ways of keeping in contact with home will help you feel connected to your friends and family while you are away. Remember that you will make friends here. Be sure that you find an even balance between your life here in Lithuania and back home. Every person is different. These four steps may not help you, but it is important that you do find your own ways to keep in contact with home.