If you're a college student like me, it's likely you live in two different places — your hometown and your college town. This means that long distance friendships are a constant challenge, as you're away from any group of friends for several months out of the year. How does one stay connected? It's challenging to keep the fires of friendships burning strong, especially when you're trying to move up in your career, study, maybe find love, and if you already have love -- make sure that relationship is on solid ground. Here are some tips to help keep your friendships long and strong, regardless of distance.
SCHEDULE REGULAR CALLS/SKYPE IN ADVANCE
Pick a day and time that usually always works for both (or all) of you. Call each other regularly on those days to check in, see how things are going, share news, or just talk about the random things that friends talk about normally.
Those calls or video conferences are also good for encouraging each other to stay on task. If you know your friend doesn't like to study, make one or two of those regularly-scheduled Skype sessions a cyber study group. Great friendships help us stay accountable to our dreams, goals and ambitions.
COORDINATE READING THE SAME BOOK
Have you both been meaning to read Shonda Rhimes' Year of Yes but haven't found the time? Promise each other you'll read at least 15 pages per week, and check in for 5 minutes about what you've read on your regularly scheduled call.
HAVE AN ANNUAL TRIP
This is long-term planning and will give you something to look forward to, and is also great for a group of friends dispersed across the country. Pick five destinations, put them in a Google poll and vote on where you'll go. The person whose destination is chosen becomes the lead on planning for that year's trip.
GO SHOPPING OVER FACETIME
Random trips to Ross were me and my sister's jam. Then, she got married and moved away. I'd want to go to Ross, I even did a few times, but it was so lame without her. I started calling her when I'd go, and that helped a lot. Also, if you use face-time, your friend can still tell you if what you're shopping for is cute or not when you try it on.
SEND EACHOTHER MINI VISION BOARDS
Whether you can spend New Year's Eve together or not, vision boards are a great start to any year. Send each other an annual mini vision board, detailing the brilliance you know will manifest in each other's lives over the course of the year. This is a great way to see yourself through your friends' eyes, and to remember and revive dreams that you had in mind.
CREATE A GROUP JOURNAL
Journals are very personal, but our closest friendships often act as therapy sessions as well. If your bestie is across the country or across the world, it might feel super impersonal to tell her that deep, dark thing you've been struggling with. A group journal allows you to write it down, and also gives your friend time to process and think about how to respond. Don't worry, you can also journal happy things, too!
SEND DAILY INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES IN THE GROUP CHAT
This is great for a larger group of friends trying to keep in touch regularly. Assign each person a day, and on each one's assigned day, that person should post a quote of inspiration in the group chat. This keeps everyone's vibes positive and starts your day off with spunk!
GIVE EACH OTHER MINI SURPRISE GIFTS
If you know your girl loves vintage books or bright colored nail polish or unique shot glasses, send one every now and then. This is a cool way to let your friend know that you're thinking about them, even though they're far away. You might not be able to call them up and say, "Hey, let me take you to brunch this weekend," but you can still show them it's all love.
COORDINATE MEDITATION TIMES
This is a free way to vibe out together and keep it positive. It also keeps you both accountable if you've both promised yourselves you'll meditate more this year.
SNAIL MAIL POLAROIDS OF YOUR FAVORITE OUTINGS
Y'all might not be able to hit that summer festival together anymore, but you can still experience it through each other's eyes. Did you move to a new city? Take your friend on a tour with you through the polaroids you take. You can both create photo albums of each other's adventures and feel as though you were side by side. This can be sent via snail mail for a surprise.
WORDS WITH FRIENDS
Mobile games that can be played with friends will be your new game night! You might not be able to get in that in-person game of Scrabble, but Words with Friends is here to make sure that you continue torturing your group with your extensive vocabulary.
DO YOUR OWN THROWBACK THURSDAYS
Have old photo albums stacked in your apartment in your new city of you and your friends from childhood? Snap a photo of a photo on your cell and send them to your friends for your own personal dose of the nostalgic Throwback Thursdays. And okay — if you really want to embarrass them, pick a separate one to do for the 'gram.
How do you keep the flames of friendship burning when you're far away? Let us know your tricks in the comments below.