Cultural experiences and funny musings by two twenty-somethings living abroad
So, after living together for almost half a year in Munich, the two halves of Hmsies has gone back to living in two separate cities again. Me and Jasper have been friends for over 4 years, however for at least half the time, we have been under the same roof so it has never been too difficult to stay in touch!
However, when you are apart, and you come home to a flat that doesn’t have your best friend sitting across from you with a homemade curry, beer and poker chips at the ready, it can be a little tricky. Especially when you don’t know anyone in the area..
As all my friends are dotted around the world, I have relied on skype on a daily basis! However, as well as chatting and catching up with your friends, I have found some great ways to not only maintain a friendship but to cultivate it!
1) Play games
Now, it’s not about just “calling” your friend on skype and relaying a bunch of information to them about your day/week/friends/colleagues etc. Because, let’s be honest, once you are not in the same place anymore, your friend might not know the people/places you’re talking about therefore you nattering on about Sarah and Johannes who came round for dinner after you went to this awesome place on Brudermullstrasse is all really well for you perhaps, but its not engaging your friend on the other side of the screen. Well, you may get a few nods of the head, gasps, etc but it really isn’t something that will engage you both in the same way.
So why not save this information for when you visit each other and your friend can see exactly what you’re talking about and in the meantime, do something together! For example, Jasper and I actually have our old poker evenings via Skype! Yes, sure you can play games online but it’s really not as fun and remember to keep a friendship going, you need to create memories, not just tell stories! So, get a deck of cards each and have a games night sometime!
2) Watch movies
We quite like watching the odd funny video together but it’s a bit tricky being able to do that when you’re living in two different countries. There are websites though that allow you to effectively skype each other whilst at the same time watching a compilation of cat fails as well as the programs that allow you to split screen, meaning you can put on put on a movie and natter about it whilst it’s on.
However, make sure guys that your friend is more considerate than Jasper has been in the past! Once, I fell asleep during the movie, and as the other person can adjust the video and the sound, I instantly got woken up by a REALLLYYYYY LOUD Gangnam Style video that Jasper had put on youtube to wake me up! Forgiven, but not forgotten!
3) Set up a book club
Now, as one of my friends is incredibly busy, I only get to talk to her once every few weeks. However, that is not such a bad thing as in the meantime, we have created this “virtual book club” where we take in turns to recommend each other a book we would like to read, then read it during the few weeks and when we skype and chat about it! It is a fantastic way to firstly, motivate yourself to read more (I’m sure many of you have made this resolution in the New Year) but it also gets you reading different genres and types of books you may not have considered. I am more of the “spiritual, self help, psychology” kinda girl and she is into her “sci-fi, thriller, crime fiction” type novels so each time, we both get to try something new! This can also work for you for eg, with recommended youtube links or TED talks or newspaper articles you find interesting. As they say, sharing is caring! And this is a great way to keep your friendship bond strong and discover a lot about each other in the meantime!
4) Pop out to the pub
It’s a standard option for meeting up with friends and catching up over a drink, but it’s something we can’t really do with our far-flung friends… or can we? Given how much technology has improved over the last few years, all you need is a Wifi connection, a laptop or a kindle and suddenly you’ll have another guest joining you at your table in your local! Just put some headphones in and get a drink and natter away! Yes, you might look a little strange but to be honest, not much can surprise us anymore techno-wise these days so don’t fret – it will soon catch on!
5) Make holiday plans
Last but not least – I’m sure you knew this would be in here somewhere – make a plan to see each other! Now this is definitely easier said than done for many of you out there who might even live on different continents! However, in this day and age it is by no means impossible and even if you have to wait a couple of years before you save up or find time, it is always, always better late than never. For example. I had a very close Lithuanian friend at university but afterwards, we never managed to meet up (always some kind of time and/or money constraints). However, one night, after a few beers, I randomly checked the fare to Vilnius and lo and behold, there were some cheap tickets going so of course I clicked “buy”. It turned out, after all this time of umm-ing and ahh-ing, they introduced a new cheap airline from Munich to Lithuania! So I hopped on the plane to surprise my friend and it was honestly, one of the BEST weekends of my life so far! Nothing quite beats the feeling when you are sat with the person you love and it is just like old times and you get to catch up on all the wonderful memories together!
This is also why, Hmsies did not wait too long and Jasper bought the tickets to Paris to see me in a few weeks time! (Blog entry coming up on this, watch this space!)
There are many, many different ways to keep your friendship going strong nowadays, no matter the distance. Try out different things and see what works best for you