Keeping in touch with friends

The countdown to the end of exams is on!  With the summer holidays being just around the corner it’s a time for excitement, the making of plans, and getting ready for some long summer days of much needed R&R.   However, the prospect of leaving this glorious city for a few months and saying farewell to uni friends is a cause of worry for many, and you may be concerned about missing them.  As a final year student myself, the thoughts of missing and losing touch with friends are more prominent than ever.

Having spent every summer away from the UK and doing study abroad in Canada during my third year, I’ve learnt that staying in touch with friends is super easy and that you needn’t fear about losing friends.

We’re told often that long-distance communication is easier than ever, and that until only a few decades ago the ability to have a real-time conversation with someone on the other side of the globe was pure science fiction.  Today, social media lets us keep track on what’s going on in our friends’ lives across oceans and the internet lets us chat for free with anyone across the world (except China and North Korea of course, and interestingly Bangladesh and Tajikistan according to Wikipedia).  This is all very obvious, and if you can sustain a good social life in 2017 without Facebook then I’m honestly amazed.

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But the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that it’s okay not to stay in regular contact with friends and that you shouldn’t be scared of losing touch.  One of my concerns when moving to Canada for my study abroad was that my wonderful UoM friends would drift away and that things would be different when I came back.  But at the same time I wasn’t willing to spend loads of time nattering with friends back home – I wanted to dive head-first into my new life in Canada, and focus on meeting new people, trying new things and travelling.  I didn’t want to be held back by spending evenings tapping away on FB chat.

By keeping busy and spending a lot of time with people, I kept the feeling of home-sickness (or Manchester-sickness) at bay – I was having too much fun to be sad!  I did occasionally Skype a friend back home for a catch-up or if I was feeling down, but in all honestly this was never as good as a proper chat face-to-face.  Don’t feel weird if your Skype conversation feels a bit stilted or awkward – how often in real life are you staring at your friend and devoting 100% of your attention to them for a prolonged period?  Normally you have natural breaks, look away, have a drink etc.  You’re not forced to make constant conversation!  Also, as great as FB is for maintaining connections, I find being sat there tapping away pretty boring – it’s no match for a real chat and you’ve probably got more interesting things going on.

When I got back to Manchester it was just like old times – if you really are good friends with someone it’ll take way more than a few months or a year to change that!  If anything, the lack of constant contact made the reunions extra special and I definitely didn’t feel like I missed out.

However, my worries about leaving Canada were about 10 times greater than those about leaving Manchester.  When flying out of MAN airport I knew that I’d be back in less than a year, but when would I be going back to Canada anytime soon?  As well as making some wonderful Canadian friends I’d also gained amazing friendships with people from all over the world, and thought of losing these was heart-breaking.

Thankfully, this last year in Manchester has proven to me that I didn’t have to be scared, and that things work out for the best.  A group of us met in Copenhagen this February for a mini-holiday, and it was just like old times!  Within an hour we joking, chatting and cuddling up on the sofa, and it felt like only a week since we’d seen each other.  I feel fully assured that I’ll be able to sustain my friendships in future, even if it’s many years before I see people again.  Eventually I’m sure you’ll cross paths with many old friends again.DSCN2081.JPG

(A photo of me and my Vancouver friends having a reunion in Copenhagen)

Of course, there are probably some people who I won’t see again and some friendships will have to be confined to memory.  But I don’t let this get me down as it’s natural for friends to drift apart as the times change as well as people, but I’m always immensely grateful for the good times we had and the things I gained from the friendship.  I feel that most relationships are quite transient and that’s quite beautiful in itself, because as well as drifting away friends in life we can always make new ones and become closer to others.

Wow, I’ve deviated quite a lot from my initial blog idea to talk about how easy it is to stay in touch with people.  This is getting quite philosophical now – talking about the nature of relationships and how times change.   Ultimately what I want to say is don’t worry about losing touch and that good friendships take a lot to diminish, but that it’s good to accept that good things come to an end and that we should appreciate them for what they were.  Namaste.

 

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