Four steps to keep in touch

Heather and Melissa are best friends separated for nine months. Heather is in Minnesota while Melissa studies abroad in Spain.

Heather and Melissa are best friends separated for nine months. Heather is in Minnesota while Melissa studies abroad in Spain.

It’s a wonderful experience to meet new friends, especially during these five months I’ve lived in Spain. However, I still need to continue friendships with those back in the U.S. such as old friends from Union—and my best friend Heather.


While overseas it’s easy for me to get caught up in the busy world of classes, papers and tests. It takes genuine work to conquer the distance and keep friendships fresh.

Heather lives in Minnesota and we haven’t been separated this long since we met in 2007. This year, as we said goodbye in September, we knew we wouldn’t see each other for nine months.

Five months in, I think we have a pretty good set-up for keeping in contact. Here is our list of tips to stay in contact:

1. Work with the time difference

The seven hour time difference between Spain and Minnesota is no small thing to conquer. Since Minnesota and Nebraska are in the same time zone, I’ve never experienced the challenge of overcoming time zones to communicate.

Usually when I wake up, Heather is sleeping. When I go to sleep, Heather’s afternoon is just beginning. To talk with Heather, I need to sacrifice my sleep by staying up late or waking up early.

I don’t like it, but it's necessary for me to keep in contact with her.

2. Text via Facebook

This year, I don’t have cell phone data, texting or calling, but what I do have is the Facebook Messenger app. This app is useful for me because I don’t need anything other than WiFi.

It’s basically the same as texting except I don’t need everyone’s number. I also enjoy the quirky stickers and GIFs I can use to express a particular feeling.

3. Skype weekly

In middle school, Heather and I called Wednesday “Heather and Melissa Day.” Although we don't continue to use Wednesday as our day, we realized we should talk via Skype at least once a week. This helps us stay up-to-date on the other person’s life. Sometimes the Skype session lasts no longer than ten minutes and other times it goes for over an hour depending on our schedules.

4. Understand life gets in the way

Sometimes we can't stick to our weekly goal. You know how life gets in the way. When these times come, Heather and I understand. Sometimes we go almost a month of only texting, but as a testament of our friendship, we don’t let these times shake us.

Being separated from loved ones can be hard, but if both parties are willing to work at communication, distance doesn’t have to ruin friendships. I think distance makes my friendship with Heather stronger, because even though we are separated, I know she’s always there for me.

I guess it's true, distance does make the heart grow fonder.

Melissa Ratter is a senior english language arts education major studying abroad in Spain.