Going back home for summer break or after graduation is exciting! You get to see your family and friends again, eat your favorite local meals and remember where it is that you came from.
While you’re getting back into the swing of things back home, don’t forget to keep in touch with your new friends in the United States.
The bonds and relationships that you made as an international student were likely a huge part of your experience and can continue to be, presuming you put in the effort. Not to worry, we’ve got some great tips for helping you maintain those friendships long after you’ve boarded a plane to your home country.
Rule #1: Don’t Wait Too Long – This is listed first for a very simple reason: it’s most important. The longer that you wait to communicate after returning home, the harder it will be to rekindle those bonds. Because of this, send a quick text when you get back to your home country, to make it known that you’re safe and already missing your new friends. Even better, send along a picture of your home, local hangout spot, or just something beautiful in your country. Odds are your friend in the US hasn’t been to your home town (or even your home country), so adding personal touches to messages, like fun pictures is a great way to stay in touch and spark a new conversation.
Rule #2: Pick a TV Show to Watch or a Book to Read – Sometimes when you keep in touch with your friends, the back and forth messages can morph into life updates and impersonal newsletters, rather than common interests and spontaneous conversations. To help break this mold, pick a television show to watch or a book to read together. Set a day every week where you’ll watch an episode or read a chapter and talk with each other about what happened. With the internet, it’s easy to schedule movies or TV shows to watch through streaming applications like Hulu or Netflix.
Rule #3: Schedule a Time to Call – To avoid calling your friends at 3 a.m., set a time and day that works best for both of you. Make this a consistent thing, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly. In addition to simply catching up with your friends, speaking English with someone fluent in the language will continue to help grow your communication skills. We all know that life can be busy, but finding time for old friends while walking to lunch or right before bed can help keep your bonds strong.
Rule #4: Send Care Packages – Every once in a while, surprise your friend by sending them a care package. You can pack a box with inside jokes, things you think they’d enjoy from your town, letters you wrote them throughout the month, etc. Without spending a great deal of money, this gesture lets your friend know that you’re still thinking about them and doesn’t require you to schedule a call that fits both of your schedules.
Rule #5: Remember the Important Days – Spend extra care communicating to your friends on important days such as birthdays, graduations, engagements, or housewarmings, and days that are important specifically to your friendship. Knowing that you support them from the other side of the globe can help your friends feel like they are still a part of your inner circle regardless of the distance.
Rule #6: Make a Blog – If you’re trying to keep in touch with a lot of friends, especially ones that are in the same circle, you can make a blog that keeps everyone informed on your life. Though this shouldn’t replace individual contact, it can be a great way for a friend group to feel in-the-loop and create an environment where no one feels left out. If you’d like to take it a step further, share your login information with several of your friends in the States so that you can all share your stories together.
Rule #7: Take Advantage of Technology – There are so many ways to keep in touch these days, so take advantage! You can video chat with your friends, send pictures in an instant, and message in real time through hundreds of generally free applications. If your friendship is important, you will both be able to find a form of technology that works best for everyone.
Once you return to your home country it can be easy to settle back into your old life with your family and friends, but don’t forget about everyone you met while studying abroad. One of the best things about being an international student is making bonds with people of all different cultures, so don’t forget to keep in touch as your life progresses. Do you have more great ideas for keeping in touch with friends after returning home? Leave us a comment with how you communicate.