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Five ways to stay connected with home friends

One of the toughest aspects of moving to university is leaving behind your friends. They may only be at the end of a phone, but sometimes it's not quite enough.

Making new friends is one of the best bits of going to university, but sometimes you need to see or hear a familiar face from home (especially in your first term).

And while there’s Facebook, WhatsApp and even email, there are more creative ways to catch up or cure those homesick blues, both modern and retro. Here are five ideas to stay connected with friends (and even family) far away:

Letters or postcards

Tired of using the same emojis to inject your messages with feeling? Show how much someone means to you by taking the time to write an actual letter.

Without the backspace key, you'll find yourself thinking more about what you say. Plus there's something more touching when reading a message from someone in their actual handwriting. Technophobe parents and grandparents may appreciate this method more.

Catch up on your TV shows together

is more than just another way to videochat (you can do that on Skype after all). If you and your friends are TV geeks, you can schedule a regular time to watch the latest episode of your favourite show through Rabbit. It's like they're right there beside you watching, with no more risk of letting slip spoilers while waiting for them to catch up.

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    Social media

    While we'd recommend focusing on your new surroundings at uni and "enjoying the moment" over looking at your phone constantly, social media is a fantastic way to stay in touch with your friends and show family what you're up to in your new home. Here are some tips:
    • Snapchat is perfect for sharing those silly, little moments, without taking up lots of room on your phone.
    • If you haven't already got one on the go, start a group WhatsApp thread among your friends and family, so it will feel part of your daily life by the time you leave for uni. 
    • Before you go, give any technophobes or social media amateurs in the family a lesson in how to use it. Focus on just one social media channel and stick to the basics. This way, you can avoid any embarrassment from a public message that they intended to be private, an accidental selfie being uploaded or something worse!
    • ​Remember which family members you have on Facebook, Instagram etc. in case they see a pic of you you'd rather they didn't see!

    Care packages

    Another more traditional option. If you see something in a shop that your friend would love, buy it and put together a care package. You can make it as cheap and cheerful as you like, provided the sentiment is there; make (or even bake) something if you're a dab hand at arts and crafts.

    When your friend receives their package, it will be like a mini-Christmas to celebrate your friendship. Just make sure any food items won't go off and to properly wrap anything delicate so it survives the trip. 

    Share playlists

    This is a great one for friends who bond over music. Rather than send a message to tell them that a cherished song just came on your Shuffle, compile and share an ongoing music playlist through a streaming service such as Spotify.

    It might be an artist you both love, or a new band you’ve discovered on your own (maybe a little-known band who is making it big in your uni's local scene) who you think they would like. You’ll both be grateful for the tune recommendations when it comes to late nights in the library.

    Check out our student life and preparing for university sections to see what uni life is really like.

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