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Top 10 ways to keep in touch with your friends this summer

Whether you’re graduating or only parting ways for a few months, there are plenty of ways to stay connected

<p>Kaitlyn Hilliard is a Top 10 Writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Kaitlyn Hilliard is a Top 10 Writer for The Cavalier Daily.

1. Make use of your Zoom expertise

Over the past year and a half, we all have basically become Zoom experts. If we’ve had to suffer through class after class online, why shouldn’t we take some of that struggle and convert it into fun by using Zoom as a way to keep up with friends this summer? Schedule a Zoom meeting with however many friends you can round up and have a ball using all of Zoom’s finest features — turn your cameras on to see each others’ smiling faces, send witty remarks and comebacks in the chat box and use the reaction buttons to keep things fresh. Zoom doesn’t have to be all school, all the time — you can transform Zoom University into Zoom Social Club. 

2. Mail handwritten letters to all your besties

I am a huge advocate for the power of snail mail and handwritten letters. Think of it this way  — if you get excited when you receive cards and letters in the mail, then how do you think other people react when it happens to them? So this summer, I encourage you to take out a pen and piece of paper, write down the events of your week and share it with your friends. Write a newsletter that includes what you’ve been reading, watching and listening to. Just be sure to include a few questions or polls so that people are sure to write back! Also, the good part about this form of communication is at the end of the summer, you’ll have a physical representation of your correspondences — which is pretty cool, in my humble opinion.

3. Organize distanced clubs to bring everyone together

If you’re more into organized gatherings and discussions, something that might be worth a shot is putting together different types of “clubs” for you and your friends to engage in together. These could be anything from a book club to a cooking and recipe club to a puzzle club. This idea allows for everyone involved to do things individually while also being engaged with the group. Plan weekly or monthly meetings to catch up, discuss how everything is going, share opinions or recipes and hold everyone accountable for their participation. 

4. Play online games or use gaming consoles

Not everyone is into formal conversation or planned phone calls. If you fit into that category, you should try keeping things casual by playing online games or using your gaming consoles and services to chat with your friends while you crush them and move up to the next level. If you don’t have a console, try online versions of classic group favorites like Uno or All Bad Cards, which is an online version of Cards Against Humanity. Also, word games are a great way to stay connected — so give Words With Friends a chance to keep your friendships thriving this summer.    

5. Use your time wisely and multi-task

If you know you’re going for a long walk, taking a drive or even doing something mundane like washing dishes or cleaning your room, give your friends a call. By doing this, you get the best of both worlds — you get to catch up with one of your BFFs, and you are still being productive without being bored by everyday life and chores. You might be surprised by how chatting away can boost your productivity and encourage you to keep going. By the end of the call, you might even realize you’ve cleaned your whole house and talked to your bestie for three hours. 

6. Plan ahead and incorporate communication into your schedule

Sometimes the best way to stay in touch with your friends and family is to simply make a conscious effort to do so. If you know that you are going to be busy this summer with work, summer classes or just things here and there, I suggest you ask your friends about a good time to have regular conversations to check in and catch up with one another for the next few months. Set reminders in your phone, put it in your Google calendar and write it in your physical planner, too — you can never have too many reminders to talk to the people you love.  

7. Send a weekly email update

If you don’t feel like writing newsletters by hand to mail out to your buddies, weekly email updates are a solid alternative that can be just as effective and entertaining for the recipients. Treat your friends like subscribers to your life and make the most of the mundane or simple events that happen over the course of a week. Include pictures for a visual element, too. And if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, incorporate an interactive element into your emails — it could be a poll, quiz about your life or a word puzzle to reveal a tidbit about recent events in your life. 

8. Take advantage of group streaming services

For the days you’re not feeling particularly talkative but you still want to be in the company of your pals, try group streaming services as a way to be together. Different streaming services offer extensions and features that allow you and your friends to watch movies or TV shows simultaneously on your respective devices. The services that allow this include Hulu Watch Party and Amazon Video Watch Party. Additionally, there is a Google Chrome extension that can be downloaded called Teleparty, which allows group streams on Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Disney+. 

9. Plan a virtual date or hangout 

Over the past year of social distancing and being separated from my friends and family, I have started having virtual hangouts with my friends. I bet you’re wondering how this is different from normal Zoom calls or FaceTimes — but trust me, it’s so much better. When I say a “virtual hangout,” I mean something like you and your friends — in your respective locations — go out and get coffee or food and then return home to call each other and simulate being together. This way, you can all imagine you’re together again, in each other’s lovely company — even if you’re not really together. 

10. Create a long-distance version of a game

You are going to have to use your imagination for this one, but it might be fun to make virtual or long-distance versions of childhood games to play with your distant friends. For example, create an iSpy group chat, or play “punch buggy” with your friends from other cities by sending pictures of the Volkswagen Beetles. If this doesn’t necessarily appeal to you, be on the lookout for people, places or things that remind you of an inside joke between you and your besties and send them a picture to show that you’re thinking of them and your memories together. Staying in touch doesn’t have to be formal or planned out — make communication fun and it will come naturally to you.