Make new friends and keep the old: How students stay in touch despite distance

University is an opportune time to make new friends—but sometimes, this comes at the expense of staying in touch with the old. Friendships naturally change over time, as distance and extracurriculars lead to new, and sometimes divergent, paths. It is already challenging for students to find time to catch up with local friends they don’t see on a daily basis—much less their friends in different cities, countries, or time zones.

As a result, many students tend to stay in touch with only their closest friends from years past, including Nicolas Roy, U2 Science.

“It’s hard when you don’t see [old friends] every day,” Roy said. “[Since coming to McGill] I’ve kept in touch really only with my best friends [and] will talk with them through text and on the phone once in awhile. That’s about it, I can count them on one hand.”

For many students in their third or fourth year, friendships they make at McGill also go through their ups and downs. Friends students made in first year are not necessarily the same ones they hang out with down the road, and sometimes they, too, fall into the category of long lost friends.

“I was in engineering when I came in as a U0, so I made friends within that community, but then I moved to physics and kind of moved away from a lot of those friends,” Roy said. “I still have some that I talk to once in awhile, but it’s more like ‘hello,’ and we catch up when we cross on the street, because we don’t share any classes anymore.”

Many students find themselves able to communicate with old friends through social media. With the click of a button or the opening of an app, like Skype, Instagram, and Snapchat, students have access to platforms that make staying up to date with old friends much easier.

“One hundred per cent, social media plays a huge part in how I stay in touch with my friends,” Amina Magnin, U1 Arts, said. “If I see something cool or a post that reminds me of one of them, then I’ll definitely either tag or send it to them.”

For Hailey Evelyn, U0 Education, texting and Snapchat in particular play huge roles in staying up-to-date with her friends who are now scattered across the country.

“There’s five of us in a group chat, and then my best friend and I text every single day,” Evelyn said. “Some friends, I keep in touch with over Snapchat, because I love my Snapchat streaks, so I kept a streak with them throughout the summer and then into university.”

Additionally, as visiting distant friends is not always possible for the busy student, pencilling in time to reach out to friends can ensure an enduring friendship. Whether it’s by setting an occasional alarm to shoot them a text, or adding a FaceTime or phone date to your calendar, setting aside time each week can go a long way.

Any distance, small or large, can test friendships in completely new ways. Still, students have found, and continue to find, ways to keep in touch.

“As a U0 [student], getting used to juggling schoolwork and friends you have here and at home is hard, but if I’ve had a good friendship while in high school, I’ve continued it [in university]”  Evelyn said. “Just because we don’t go to the same school doesn't mean we’ll stop being friends altogether.”

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