Staying Close with Friends and Family while Abroad

Willa Thomas headshot
Willa Thomas
November 7, 2023
Group photo of all of my friends from Wofford in Florence for the weekend

I am now more than halfway through my time studying abroad. It’s been full of amazing trips, new friends, interesting studies, and so many life lessons. One of the biggest things I think I’ve learned since being here is the importance of staying close to my people from home while also maintaining a balance to allow myself to make new friends. When I first arrived, I was calling my family and friends from home almost every day. I think this was a way to combat a bit of the homesickness that is to be expected when moving to a different country. Now, I am a lot more comfortable and adjusted to my life abroad, but I still value my connections with people from home. One thing I was worried about when moving abroad was that I would fall out of touch with my friends and family from the States. Previously, I haven’t been the best at picking up the phone or reaching out to people just to catch up. I get so caught up in the idea that I must be 100% present in my current life because I don’t want to miss out on making memories and soaking in the present. However, after being here for a few months, I have a newfound understanding of the importance of staying close to your people from home. This communication maintains a sense of normal within my day-to-day life that can often feel like a fairytale. Here are some of my tips and tricks for staying close to people while abroad:

  1. Find small things that remind you of them:
  • While exploring the many new cities and countries I’ve been going to I often come across many small things that remind me of my people from home. Anytime this happens, I try to find some way to record/share it with the person it made me think of. If it’s something small or in a store, I purchase the item and put it in my rapidly growing pile of gifts to bring home. If it’s just something on the street, I’ll quickly take a picture and send it to the person to let them know I’m thinking of them. This action has not only helped me maintain my relationships at home but also helped me to feel more present in my daily life. I find myself taking in my surroundings a bit more and not only focusing on the big or monumental things but also the little things that I experience daily.
  1. Have a set time or day to call:
  • Time change can be hard when it comes to communicating with people from home. In my case, I found it most difficult to find a time that I could sit and talk with people when we both weren’t busy. One easy tip for this is to find a set time that works for both of you and stick to it. You could call your best friend from home every Monday evening just to fill each other in on your lives. By keeping this as a set thing in your calendar it takes the stress of remembering to call from you. Almost like a virtual coffee date!
  1. If possible, plan trips with your friends and family!
  • I have found it very rewarding to travel to visit my friends where they are studying. I am lucky that I have so many people from home who are studying abroad at the same time as me. Most of my best friends from my home school are in Europe which makes it easy to hop on a plane or train to go visit them. These are the trips I have loved the most. It is amazing to get to experience the countries that my friends are living in. I like getting to see their routines, all the people that they have met, and the places that they frequent. I have looked forward to these trips so much because in a time in my life where I am having so many new experiences, it’s been nice to be around people who know me extremely well. I love that these are the memories we will have for the rest of our lives together.


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Willa Thomas headshot

Willa Thomas

My name is Willa Thomas and I am originally from San Diego, CA. I am a biology major on the pre-nursing track but chose to study business and economics while abroad to learn something new and broaden my horizons!

2023 Fall
Home University:
Wofford College
Biological Sciences
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