How to be the BEST modern day penpal

So you’ve met some pretty awesome people throughout your travels, adventures, nights out and days here there and everywhere… now what? The amazing people that I do meet, I just can’t deal with the fact that I may not see them again. And whilst I realise this is a reality for a lot of the people I do meet, the second best thing is to keep in touch and wish them the best with their life. I like to think I’m pretty good at keeping in touch with people. And I do so because I just want them to know how much I value our friendship. So here are my ways to be the best modern day penpal with your friends around the globe!

Modern day penpals. Source
Modern day penpals. Source

Take advantage of social media. There’s no need to explain how revolutionary social media is to our everday lives. But make sure you take advantage of it. At the double tap of a finger you can like someone’s Instagram photos, send a snapchat, or like a Facebook post. Comment on someone’s photo telling them how much you see missing their face around, or just to say you’re thinking of them. While it may seem like nothing, it really does mean the world.

Make a phone call. Again, with the cost of phone calls being so cheap these days, there’s no reason you can’t call your friend (probably wouldn’t recommend for international calls but within your country, there’s no excuse). It doesn’t have to go for hours, but sometimes… just hearing the sound of someone’s voice is so comforting. It’s easier than texting back and forth, you can express your emotions and if you close your eyes, it’s almost like they’re there with you.

If it's good enough for Carrie Bradshaw, then it's good enough for all of us. Source
If it’s good enough for Carrie Bradshaw, then it’s good enough for all of us. Source

(If you can’t call your friend because they do live oversees and those fees are just too high) Record your voice. OK give me a chance to explain. I know it sounds weird but it’s actually the coolest thing to do. My friend who’s always galavanting around Europe and I usually communicate via voice recordings on Whatsapp. The time difference makes it hard to organise a skype sesh (and the quality is always shitty), and she doesn’t post much to social media because she’s so busy…. soooo sending voice recordings back and forth is the best. I usually sit on my bed and pretend as though she’s sitting at the other end. Sure it may look weird to people walking past your room and listening to you talk to yourself, but it’s the best thing to receive.

Snapchat!!! It took me a while to jump on the snapchat wagon, but now that I am, I don’t know how I didn’t live without it? I love sending snaps to my friends that I don’t get to see all the time just to fill them in on what I’ve been up to. And I love I get a snap of them on a night out with friends, or jumping on a plane, of their breakfast or when they’re hungover. It just makes me feel like I’m there with them.

(And if you’re game) Physically write a letter. Do you remember the last time you received a physical handwritten letter or postcard? You become overwhelmed with excitement, joy, intrigue and happiness! Now imagine one of your friends having the exact same reaction because of something you sent! It’s absolutely beautiful! Whilst sending parcels is like murdering your savings account, sending a letter or postcard is super cheap and the reward is absolutely priceless. I still have a whole box filled with letters, notes and postcards from friends and family, and it’s something I’m going to keep forever.

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So as much as it sucks that you’re not going to see these amazing people around everyday, by doing the above things, it will definitely keep the friendship alive.

Do you have any tips or tricks to keep in touch with your friends overseas? Let me know in the comments below?

Have the attitude of an Exchange Student

I’ve been lucky enough to meet some incredible exchange students throughout my time of living at university college. People from all over the world who have embarked on an epic adventure to study for six months or a year are lucky enough to spend their time in beautiful Wollongong. And whilst they’re from all over the world, from many different cultures, they all have one thing in common… an incredibly positive, spontaneous and adventurous outlook on life. And whilst I’m so grateful for the friendships I’ve made, I’ll always be grateful for showing me how to truly make the most of every opportunity. And here are some of the most admirable thing about Exchange Students.

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They’re spontaneous. If you ask an exchange student what the did on the weekend, don’t expect your stock standard ‘aw, not much,’ because chances are, they actually did something awesome. ‘I went to Melbourne… road tripped up the coast… went camping in the Blue Mountains… went skydiving…’ Exchange students are always doing the unexpected, saying yes and have their bags pakced just in time to get on the next train to, well, anywhere. Their answers will leave you reconsidering your saturday night Sex & the City marathon.

They’re productive and balanced. When they’re not jetsetting around the country, they’re busy doing everything else the physically have time for. Playing sports (and trying new ones), being involved with clubs, going out every second Wednesday night, going hiking, surfing, swimming, exploring… And then on top of that, they get all of their assignments done. It must be the all rounded balance that they have in their lives which keeps them motivated and lifted, and this is one of the biggest traits that I’m trying to adopt myself.

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They’re positive and optimistic. Maybe it’s because they’re free to reinvent themselves in a new country, but most exchange students tend not to dwell on the little problems that life throws at you. Instead, they’ll look at the bigger picture and think ‘hey, it’s not so bad, look at where I am, in a beautiful country with so many opportunities and I’m stressing out about a little essay.’ It’s such an beautiful outlook to have on life because it’s so easy to worry and worry and worry even more about all the little things. But instead, we should just take one big step back, take a deep breath and try to look on the bright side.

They’re ridiculously friendly. You say hello and introduce yourself and next minute, you’re talking about travelling and your favourite country/city/food. They’re all open minded because they’ve travelled across the world to study and here to make friends.

(One of the bonuses) You’ll have a lounge to crash on in the future. Think of all the people you know from all of those countries around the world and all of the lounges that are just waiting to be slept on. Plus you’ll have a local tourguide to show your around. It’s a win-win situation.

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They’re focused and driven. They’ve obviously got their shit together. They’ve organized a semester or two to study at another university (and as someone currently going through this process, it’s time consuming and difficult), plus accommodation, living expenses and travel plans to organise, as well as doing something which will positively contribute towards their degree and future… they’ve definitely got a bigger plan. It’s incredibly motivating because it’s something I also want to achieve and lucky for me, I have awesome people to show me how it’s done.

But the WORST thing about Exchange Students… Despite all these amazing qualities about all these incredible people, why do they love you then leave you?! You create an awesome friendship and even more awesome memories… and then they leave! So to all the wonderful exchange students out there, past present and future, if you could just fix one tiny little flaw for me, that’d be great… please don’t leave!

*Dedicated to all my incredible exchange friends here and across the world. Can’t wait to crash on your lounge some time soon.

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xxx A