One of my biggest concerns studying abroad was staying in contact with friends back home. As an orientation leader at Brandeis, I often tell my ‘grouplets’ to expect a certain level of friendship turnover during their first year. Everyone is looking for some sort of connection when you first arrive at college, but early friends may not mesh well together long-term. This is typical for everyone, but with the pandemic my experience of friendship turnover lasted until my junior year. Friendships with people through orientation and other clubs took more time than usual to flourish. Obviously, not running into friends every couple of days means less contact, but luckily my experience with staying in communication has been positive so far. Before I left for Berlin, a friend named Zoe did something that changed how I interact with people long distance. Instead of just saying, "we'll stay in contact, for sure…, "she took my phone and added two events in my calendar where we would Zoom. Obviously, changing the day wasn't an issue if something popped up, but this practice makes finding time to call less theoretical. There will assuredly be a time in which we will catch up. We also choose the next time to call before we hang up, so there’s always something to look forward to a month down the road. With this timetable, there's also always something new to talk about. This has been a great way to get the best of both worlds: staying in the lives of my friends in Massachusetts while still making new memories with those abroad. Then the script can flip once the semester ends. It feels like a very healthy way to stay intertwined with those we meet along the way. I know, for example, I felt very isolated getting to college because I lost contact with most of my high school friends quickly. If I had used this technique of low-key but consistent calls, maybe I could have stayed close to those who meant a lot to me a couple of years ago.
My ties back home aren't entirely broken right now, since I also direct and edit an improv comedy podcast titled Buttercups & Moonbeams (available wherever podcasts are heard). I have continued to Zoom in to the meetings every week to help out the production team I left behind. This is a separate conversation from just calling friends to hang out because it directly involves labor from everyone in the room. Still, recording a podcast based on escapism and entertainment creates a communal time to savor. Last September, I started working on the podcast, and episodes began releasing every other week in January. I continue to edit the podcast here, which requires about 10-15 hours of work per episode. This means sometimes I have to say no to outings in Berlin, but there's a simple pleasure in working on something so familiar. Listening to my friends speak while editing everything together also brings a sense of nostalgia. My favorite episode we've produced was released a couple weeks ago, in which the characters travel to the beach. There was an energy in the room when we recorded that continues into the final edit. It's the episode when the entire production just kinda clicked. Whenever I'm having a bad day, I love to just make some tea and remember how meaningful it has been to create something so unique together. As we record new episodes this semester it brings me immense joy to continue creating that energy from so far away. All in all, It was comforting to discover that people weren't going to just disappear when I went abroad, and I hope the friends I make here will stay in contact in the same way.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Guten Tag! Ich heiße Corey! I come from a small town named Groveland, Massachusetts about an hour north of Boston and now study at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. I have a double major in Film and German with a minor in Studio Art and am studying abroad in Berlin Spring 2022. In my free time I tap dance (for the past 15 years), finger paint with oils on canvas, and direct an improv comedy podcast. In Berlin I'm super excited to live in a city for the first time and experience the hustle bustle on a daily basis.</p>