Forging connections with international friends is both rewarding and challenging. At first, the vast oceans, language barriers and opposing cultures might seem daunting. Yet, their unique perspective on the world teaches you valuable lessons, opens doors to new experiences, and cultivates a sense of connection you just might not find in your home country.
Through a mixture of technology, perseverance, and imaginative thinking, long-distance pals around the globe enjoy the kind of shared experiences that cement meaningful, life-long friendships – all from the comfort of their own home.
1. Schedule a virtual movie night
Even when you’re thousands of miles apart, it’s still possible for you and your pals to crack open the popcorn packet and binge-watch movies together. Thanks to today’s technology, long-distance friends are able to plan movie-night Mondays, YouTube Tuesdays, and Rom-com PJ parties. Online platforms like Kastand TwoSeven enable shared streaming of popular services like Netflix and YouTube. Simply by watching your favourite shows together, you will share cultures, languages and laughs. Before you know it, you’ll be reciting lines in different languages and sharing TV-related inside jokes with each other.
2. Play online quizzes and games together
Video chat while playing a two-player computer game, call each other through the Xbox, or search up a random online random quiz to learn about each other’s quirks.
If you’re not sure where to start, the multiplayer gaming tool Jackbox is brimming with choice. From rap battle ad libs to murder mystery magic, this is an easy way to encourage giggles and forget the distance that separates you. While one person needs to own the physical game, everyone else can connect to it through any device that connects to the internet.
3. Stay in touch the old-fashioned way
Letters and postcards still have their place for reaching out to overseas buddies and language learners. Letters give you space and time to compile the tales of your life and to share aspects of your culture with your foreign friend. Postcards offer them snapshots into the landscapes surrounding your life. There are parts of each other’s world that faraway friends don’t get to see, and these tools will showcase these hidden parts of each other’s way of life.
4. Start a book club
Each month, select a book for everyone to read. The type of book is up to you; choose one that’s on the divisive side and watch the hilarious heated debates unfold, or pick one which discusses universal feelings and learn about your friends’ emotional sides. Schedule a regular video call with your friends to discuss, debate and compare your culturally-appropriate book club snacks.
If you can’t set up a virtual meet-up, it’s time to write up Whatsapp essays and literary letters. There’s always a way to connect – and all this one costs is a few cheese crackers, an intriguing novel and a little spare time. What a small price to pay for such a worthwhile investment into your language skills and friendship circle!
5. Get creative!
Studies show that engaging the creative side of the brain while you practise a language is one of the most effective ways to learn. The internet provides countless chances to be creative with a friend-from-afar, and if you combine it with speaking, reading or writing in your target language, you’re sure to advance your skills. Why not start a vlog together? Or learn an instrument together? How about getting competitive with exercise apps?
From online podcasting tools to record your shared musings to online whiteboards to scribble over together, there are endless apps to learn new skills on. You can even meditate together with apps like Headspace. There’s a lot to do out there, so just start thinking outside the box.
6. Take advantage of social media
Of course, harness the power of social media. Share silly memes that you know will make your friends laugh, drop each other a motivational morning message and set up group chats where you can start discussing that new vlog idea. Our platform, EF Campus Connect, empowers fellow language learners to stay connected even after their language course abroad has ended.
Regular check-ins on platforms like this will reinforce your passion for languages and culture alive, as well as cultivate or strengthen irreplaceable friendships.