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Five ways to stay connected with home friends

One of the toughest parts of going to university is moving far away from your friends. While they are only a call away, it's not quite the same, is it?

And though everyone around you will say that you'll make new friends at uni – and you will  sometimes you need to see or hear a familiar face from home (especially in that crazy first term).

While WhatsApp, FaceTime and Skype will do for a quick chat or when you're on-the-go, here are a few slightly different ways to stay connected with friends (and family too), when they're hundreds of miles away: 

Letters or postcards

What's your favourite emoji? The monkey covering its eyes? Hearts? A good old fashioned thumbs up? Whatever it is, go old-school and write a letter instead.

Without the delete button at your disposal, you'll find yourself thinking more about what you say you might surprise yourself! Plus, there's something way more touching and personal about reading a message in someone's actual handwriting, than a text.

Technophobe parents and grandparents may appreciate this tip, too.

Watch now: How I met my best mate at uni

Plan a visit early on

For those studying further away from home, the only time you can go back to visit may be during the holidays due to the cost and timings  that could be 10 weeks away from the moment you arrive at uni. If you are planning a trip home, check out our guide to save money on train tickets.

Getting a visit from friends (or going to visit them at their uni) before then can give you something a bit sooner to look forward to, especially if you're feeling homesick. Put something in the diary as early as you can to help break up the term.

You'll need the first few weeks to settle down, so perhaps plan a visit or a trip somewhere around week four or five in your first term. This will give you a boost for those final weeks of term, ahead of any deadlines and exams you face.

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Catch up on your TV shows together

If you and your friends are complete TV geeks, schedule a regular slot to watch the latest episode of your favourite show each week.

You don't want to huddle yourself away in your room and not socialise with those around you at uni every single evening; but the occasional hour or two catching up on your current TV obsession (and with mates while you do it) won't hurt.

Software and sites like Rabbit can help make sure you're all at the exact same moment of the show or movie you're watching (internet connection permitting). It will feel like they're right there beside you (and there's no risk of letting slip spoilers while waiting for them to catch up).

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    Care packages

    Another more traditional option, if you see something in a shop or online that your friend would love, buy it and put together a care package to send to them.

    You can make it as cheap and cheerful as you like, provided the sentiment is there. Make something if you're a dab hand at arts and crafts or baking, or simply throw in their favourite sweets and some old pics you've printed out. Just make sure any food items won't go off and to wrap anything delicate so it survives the trip. 

    When your friend gets it, it will be like a mini-Christmas to celebrate your friendship!

    Ploughing through your student loan? Cut your living costs in 10 easy steps.

    Share playlists

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

    It might be an artist you both love, or a completely new band you’ve discovered who you think they'd like they might be a little-known band making it big in your uni's local scene.

    You’ll both be grateful for the tune recommendations when it comes to late nights studying in the library.

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