Note: Today’s post comes from Maria Rainier, who shares tips on improving language skills by staying in touch with friends.
We’ve all done it: it’s so easy to abandon friendships when distance becomes a separation factor. It happens at summer camp, on long vacations, and of course broken friendships sprout up whenever people move away. What makes it so easy to forget our friends – or so tough to keep in touch?
For me, there are two major reasons, and that makes it harder to get past them and save my friendships.
First, there’s the simple fact that keeping a long-distance friendship requires time and effort. With so much work to do and so little time to myself, I often find it difficult to spend that hour with a wonderful friend when I could be doing something relaxing – like watching my favorite show.
I know I’ll enjoy a conversation more than the show, but the “easy” option is always more appealing.
Another reason I let friendships disintegrate is that I’m afraid my friends won’t be interested in keeping touch. Maybe they’re too busy, they might have better and closer friends, or it’s possible that we just had a “convenience” friendship that wasn’t made to last.
Now I sound like some abandoned and bitter lover, but regardless of logic, feelings can affect our thoughts and actions more than we’d like to admit.
Fortunately, I’ve found a way to keep in touch with some of my best friends in other countries and states, and I’m even maintaining my Spanish fluency in the process. It’s fun and convenient, so I hope you’ll give it a try and reconnect with some of your long-lost friends.
Skype & Spain: My Experience
As part of an effort to become fluent in Spanish and have a great study abroad experience, I traveled to Seville for a month in January of 2009 with a class from my university. We were studying the language as well as the religious history of Spain, so much of our time was spent in the classroom or on field trips.
However, while I was in Spain, I made so many friends that I was reluctant to head back to the States – some of my classmates, the Brazilian girl who was one of my roommates, and a few Spanish students all became close friends.
It wasn’t just the coincidence of meeting other people my age; these friends shared many of my interests, wanted to know more about me and my life, and genuinely enjoyed spending time together. I knew we would have to go our separate ways at the end of the month, but we all agreed that we wanted to keep in touch. People say that all the time, but I knew somehow that some of my new friends really meant it. We exchanged emails and planned to write each other.
After the first few emails back and forth, we found ourselves naturally slowing down and losing interest. I didn’t want this to happen, so I suggested that we start using Skype so we could see and hear each other.
Fortunately, my friends agreed to give it a try, and we’ve been using it ever since. Currently, I use Skype to keep in touch with two friends from my university who were on the trip, as we’re too spread out across the U.S. to see each other in person. I also use it to communicate with my friend in Brazil and with another friend in Seville.
Of course, there’s the issue of time zones, but we’ve worked it out within our schedules so that we have planned “friend time” each week. Now that I’ve started using Skype to keep up with my friends, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve come to realize that the people we meet in life are some of the best blessings we can hope to enjoy.
How to Get Started in Two Steps
If you’re interested in using Skype’s free video calling feature to keep in touch with your friends, here’s how.
1. Get a webcam. They’re inexpensive and well worth the investment. You can easily find one at your local electronics store or check out bestbuy.com.
2. Set up a Skype account for free and start using it to talk to your friends. You can view a tutorial, then download the free version of Skype here and start uploading contacts from your email or directly input usernames to create Skype contacts. From there, use the simple interface to make free calls, see your friends, and enjoy each other’s company.
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online universities, and what online degrees mean in an increasingly technological world. You can read more of her work at the Online Degrees site. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.