Back to Brantford: The art of staying close

Whether it takes a one-hour drive or a 12-hour flight, for most students, Laurier Brantford is not close to home. Living away from home not only means students have to learn how to use an oven and a washing machine, but also how to stay close with those back at home.

Keeping relationships strong is a challenge even without the distance. But with some effort, friends, family and significant others can remain connected even while far away.

Googling “How to make a long-distance relationship work” offers some tips like sending snail mail, watching TV shows together but apart, and surviving off of a string of countdowns. As another perspective, it is good to hear success stories from people who have mastered long-distance communication.

Fourth-year student Nadine Saba is an international student from Oman. When Saba decided to move to Canada, she knew it would be challenging but due to social media was not worried about losing contact with her friends and family.

“Some friends and I tend to go months without contact, but we manage to pick up where we left off,” Saba said.

Caroline Barnes, 20, recommends contacting friends more often to ensure that the relationship will stay strong.

“You have to put in the effort, if you want to keep in touch,” Barnes said. “If you don’t, things probably won’t be the same when you try to reconnect later.”

Barnes has kept her childhood friendship strong even after moving across the country. She and her friend became close in elementary school in Nova Scotia. After grade six, Barnes moved to Ontario but makes every effort to travel to Nova Scotia every summer to visit.

Both Saba and Barnes find that scheduling a specific time to communicate is helpful.

Saba talks to her parents from overseas every day at the same time. Barnes and her friend talk every Sunday, and take care to reschedule if something comes up.

“University life is busy, so I don’t always have time to have a lengthy conversation with a bunch of friends,” Saba said. “You can send a quick message, share a funny video or make plans for semester breaks.”

Saba uses Skype, Facebook and Instagram as free, convenient ways to communicate: pictures can show what they cannot see and video-messaging is a reminder of that facial expression and vocal tone that they miss.

“The first few months are not easy, but surrounding [yourselves] with friends [you] are comfortable with is a definite distraction from feelings of homesickness,” Saba said.

Barnes shares the importance of paying attention to relationships during university life.

“It’s easy to get caught up in being in a new place with new people,” Barnes said.  “But you should make sure you are setting aside the time to talk, visit or keep in touch with your friends and family that are at home or in other places.”

In between roommate shenanigans and cramming for midterms, try not to forget about those who live outside of Laurier Brantford.

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