For a lot of college students like myself, it is common to choose to attend university out-of-state. When I moved five hours away from my hometown in Philadelphia to begin my new journey at James Madison University, I was very concerned about losing the strong friendships and connections I have made throughout my high school experience, and I was worried about all of the things I would miss in their lives. As I am now about to start my junior year, I know it's definitely possible to keep those important friendships despite distance with a good amount of effort and communication! Whether you're leaving for college, moving away from your hometown, or studying abroad, here are my three best tips for keeping your friendships at home while you continue to grow in a new place!

1. Communication is key!

A lot of people think that very close friendships are like family—they'll always have to be around, support you, and love you because you've been together for so long. The truth is that no relationship should be taken for granted. Every relationship, whether it is a romantic relationship, a family member, or a friendship, needs to be appreciated and needs effort to keep it going! Send your friends little reminders. Let them know you miss them—chances are they're missing you too! Once in a while, I'd randomly receive a text in the group-chat from one of my good friends simply saying: "Good morning! I hope you all have a great day." Messages like that always manage to brighten my day, and that small text that took 1 minute allowed me to know my friends from home still were thinking about my and caring about me. Furthermore, check in with your friends. Text them one-on-one every so often to ask how classes have been. If they seem distant or upset, ask them if everything has been okay recently. Long-distance friendships are hard, but there's always a way to talk on the phone, over text, or on video chat to connect with a friend in this day and age.

2. Make an effort to hang out when you're at home!

Especially over breaks and summer holiday, my friends and I always make sure to text when we are home and go out of our way to hang out. Whether it's visiting one of my friends at their local school or simply sitting at home talking for hours, the face-to-face time I get with my friends makes any effort worth it. My twin happens to go to school in Philadelphia, so whenever I visit home for a weekend I am able to visit her and my other friends who go to school local and meet them on their turf. Additionally, some of my friends who go to school closer to my hometown have made the effort to come all the way down to Virginia to visit me!

Clearly it is hard to visit a friend who goes to school a plane ride away, but making any effort to make plans and see each other on breaks is more than enough to keep your friendship solid.

3. Understand that change is a natural part of life.

The hardest part about growing and maturing far away from people you have known for a long time is that you and your friends will change. Change is completely natural! No one stays completely the same for years and years, but that does not mean that you cannot remain friends. Understand that your friends may change and grow, and you will change and grow as well! The key is to grow together instead of growing apart. As you mature, your friends will also mature, and you can still have love for each other even after time and distance.