Friends and family are important. We all know that. One of the best things to come out of university is the beginning of wonderful lifelong friendships. By the time your degree is finished, you realise that you’ve discovered some sublime friendships that make you smile just to think about them.
Good news is, you might live longer for having these friends too! So it’s important to keep in contact and regularly communicate for their sake AND yours.
But you shouldn’t only keep in contact with your close uni friends. You’ve got friends from home to think of, family to keep in the loop, and networking peeps to stay involved with. And you can go further than point someone toward your online status updates! Here are some basic tips to guide your way to keeping in touch with all these people.
1. Let them know when you’re coming home to visit – Perhaps your friends are also elsewhere at uni. Finding out when you’re all available makes meeting up so much easier. Then again, I know some of the impromptu evenings can be the best nights out. Whatever you think is best!
2. Plan ahead – Same as above, it’s worth getting a few plans under your belt so you don’t waste valuable time when you’re back home.
3. Send the occasional personal update over your usual Facebook updates – We’re suckers for letters and postcards. I’ll be honest, I didn’t send anywhere near enough brief postcards, which is shocking…there’s usually a load of great postcards around the Student Union and you don’t then have to write much to make someone really, really happy.
4. Invite them to visit you at uni – You probably already have done this. I only mention it because I know of at least one person who didn’t consider it until later on in their course. A simple idea, but not always thought up when you’re treating uni life and home life as two very different things.
Close uni friends
Over the long holiday periods (and after you graduate), you won’t keep the same level as contact with your close friends as you did when they were on your doorstep. No matter! Give them a call or write a letter. The personal touch goes much further than an e-mail or IM and you know your friends will be glad to hear from you like this.
After you graduate, contact can reduce even further, but that doesn’t matter. Keeping in touch with these close friends shouldn’t be a chore and it should be easy to strike the fire back up from the moment you start spending time with them again.
Don’t worry (or get angry) if some of your close friends are rubbish at keeping in contact. Life’s too short. If you’re better at it, give yourself a private pat on the back and move on. Anyway, does it really matter? One of my best friends is hopeless at keeping in contact and we can go months without any contact. But when we meet up after a zillion years (give or take a day) it’s as if we saw each other last week. I’ve stopped worrying that I need to keep in regular contact…I can spend my time on others who need the communication more.
Your other uni mates
During the holiday periods, you can still keep in contact via Facebook, et al. Don’t worry about doing much more than this unless you really want to. If any of your friends decide to contact you in a more personal manner, try to reciprocate and show that the friendship works both ways (if it really does, of course!). Perhaps your friendship will grow closer due to contact outside of termtime…it’s all possible!
After your degree, work out which of these friends you’d like to remain in more regular contact with. If you don’t pay attention right away, memories will dwindle and – as each day passes – attempts to reunite are more difficult to engineer.
1. Give them a ring. If nothing else, a phone call will give your family just enough information to keep them in the loop and feel like you still care.
2. Arrange your home visits in advance. This needn’t just be with your Mum and Dad. Let your aunts and uncles, your grandparents, and your extended family know. They’ll want to know how you are and arranging visits when you are around means you don’t have to think about keeping in contact so much while you’re away at uni.
3. Suggest they come to see you. While this isn’t always feasible, some family members will love the invitation and may not have wanted to suggest visiting themselves. Job done!
4. Write! Even if it’s not a handwritten essay, a short typed letter will go a lot further than an e-mail.
Networking contacts and acquaintances
1. Don’t sweat it. Spend whatever time you want/can on others. If you’re buckling under the pressure for whatever reason, stop trying so hard.
2. Send on links/articles/news that you think could be relevant to them. Mention that you saw it and thought they’d be interested.
3. Don’t spend too long on lengthy messages. Keep it short. If you want to catch up, just say that and mention a couple of the most important events in your recent life. If they want to catch up too, a continuing conversation will no doubt ensue.
4. Ask questions. It’s not all ME, ME, ME! Find out how they are too. No matter if you’re asking a favour, it’s impolite not to engage in a bit of polite catch-up querying.
This post only skims the surface of what you can do to keep in contact with everyone. If you have any advice or suggestions, please do let us know in the comments below!