Maintaining Relationships After Returning Home

By Lo Martinez, API Salamanca Peer Mentor

It’s been a nine months since I packed up my suitcases, said a tearful goodbye to my host mother and gave a final wave to the beautiful city of Salamanca, Spain. As I sat silently on my bus to Madrid, my pocket began to buzz. The small blue cell phone I used in Spain had lit up with a stream of messages, each from an amazing friend I had made during the course of my quarter studying abroad.

“Adios lo, y ate echo de menos…”

“bye buddy! I’m so happy I met you. Keep in touch.”

I remember shedding a tear and thinking how fortunate I was to have made such great connections with people from such different home countries and cultures.  In that moment, I decided that I would work to maintain these relationships.

I won’t lie, it’s not easy staying in touch with people six to twelve time zones away…. We are lucky enough, however, to have technology to make it not only possible, but easy and free.

Here are some tools I’ve utilized (and you can too!) to stay in contact overseas and back at home:

 Social Media: Alight, this might seem like a no-brainer, but I have to say social media, from Facebook to Tumblr, is a great way to stay in touch with the friends you make while studying abroad. Creating a group or message thread on Facebook can even allow you to create a virtual community to stay in touch!

Video Chat Programs: Skype is great for a free one-on-one video chat, or multi person voice-only chat. I’ve also used Google+ hangouts to have a video conference with four friends! Only problem? Working out a time that works for everyone!

iPhone, Droid, Smart-phone Apps

What’s App: FREE texting software that lets you connect with other app users, around the world, for free.

HeyTell: An app that lets you send mini voice-messages to other app users (think walkie talkie).

Letters: Now I don’t mean to get all archaic on you, but letters are also a great way in touch. In this day and age, any mail that isn’t a bill or advertisement is extra-special. It’s also very personal when you get to send a message written in your own hand.

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