How to Handle Long Distance Friendships

If you have seen the page about me, you know that I have moved around 5 times in the last few years. The first time when I moved to İstanbul from my hometown Ankara after high school, I had no idea what I was doing. I remember the first day of school. I was waiting for the bus (which was going to be my first ever bus ride alone) and I asked myself “Why the hell did I do this?”

Moving to a new place comes with many pros and cons. It is fresh and exciting to be in a place where no one knows you. It is full of opportunities. But it also mean; no one knows you!

If you were like me and had an incredible group of friends in your hometown, I’m sure you know that it is impossible to not miss them. So I hope these things I’ve learned over the years can help you.

Don’t compare your new friends to your old friends

Everyone is different. Especially when you move to somewhere else with a new culture chances are very low that you will find someone that can fill in the big shoes of your other friends. So don’t expect them to do that. Enjoy them for who they are.

Also, don’t put unnecessary expectations on them. For example; if watching chick flicks at home with home cooked brownies was your thing with another friend, don’t try to do the exact same thing with them and expect the have the same amount of fun. Try and see what new experiences they can offer you. You already have the master of brownies at home. Why not get a master of martinis?

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Never underestimate the power of video chat

Last night before you went away, and you all promised each other that you will video chat everyday. Sorry to break it to you, but that is never going to happen. Video chatting may look like the simplest act in the world, and it kind of is. But when you are all stressed out and busy, it is the hardest thing in the universe. Especially when you know you can chat for 2 hours straight. So do not overestimate how much you can video chat, but arrange days according to everyone’s plans and actually go through with it. It’s worth it.

Stay in the group chat or create one

If you had a group chat on Whatsapp (or whatever people use these days) you are going to fight every fiber in your body not to get out of it when your friends are planning a group meeting you can’t even join and you have more than 100 unread messages in a minute. Take a deep breath and don’t do it! I know it is annoying but it is a great way to keep up with your friends’ daily lives.

Sometimes you will have to read 25 messages about where someone is waiting on a street until they find each other but sometimes you will have live report from an important event. So stick with it.

Also, don’t write “I wish I could be there.” every time they are making plans. It gets old.

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Don’t forget about their lives

I know the guy with the green hair you met at an enviroment protest is so cool or the new place you found at the other side of the city makes the best fries. And it is fun to share those. But when you are in a conversation with your friends don’t lose yourself in all the awesome things you did. Time did not stop for them when you were not around. They probably squeezed in couple of exciting and important things too. Never assume that your experiences were more interesting than theirs. Always ask. It is incredible how many things can change in a short amount of time.

Always go back

Last but not least, try to visit whenever you can. Whatsapp, Skype, Hangouts and all that jazz is great when you are away. But nothing will take the place of actually sitting together with your friends and seeing their faces in front of you. It is one of the best feelings.

P.s: It is also easier to convince them to move around with you when you are face to face.

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