"I know that I will miss them but it’s also a comfort to know that long distance doesn’t mean the fizzling out or end of my friendships"Simon Lock

There’s nothing like space to help you reflect, and being away from Cambridge for the past two months has brought to light one of my (many) flaws. If you’re anything like me you either take two seconds or two weeks to reply to a message – there is no in between. It doesn’t matter how special or close a friend we’re talking about, I will have blanked them at some point or another. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for my old friend ‘distance.’ I use the term ‘friend’ rather liberally here, I think ‘nudnick’ would be better. A nudnick is a pest, a nagger, one of those people who just won’t leave you alone. Sort of like the annoying relative at the party.

By this point I was fed up with feeling like distance equalled distant

I have a particular reason to hate distance, so buckle up because it’s about to get personal. Distance has always separated me from my friends and family. I went to secondary school in France. It was pretty cool at times and I got to learn French, but it was also a boarding school, which meant that whenever I was at school, my family were in the UK, and whenever I was at home, my friends were in France. It was kind of a lose-lose situation when it came to spending time with those I loved.

Distance 1. Gaby 0.

When I started uni in the UK I thought that it would finally be my year. Friends in the same country! It can’t get better than that! I don’t need a passport to meet up with people! Or so I thought.... Turns out York and Brussels are still pretty far away from where I live.

Distance 2. Gaby 0.

By this point I was fed up with feeling like distance equalled distant, and I resolved to find ways to better keep in touch.

Texting was my first obvious go-to, but – as everyone knows – texting can be rather boring. GIFs help, but don’t solve, this problem. I decided to mix it up a bit: a bit of WhatsApp here, a bit of Snapchat there, just to keep everyone on their toes. This actually worked quite well, especially as we had groups on each app which meant that there was always news coming in from somewhere. We were always talking about something. Having group chats is a bit of an essential risk when keeping in touch over the holidays. They either go completely dead or blow up your phone. (If you find yours is more in the former category, send some photoshopped pictures of the group chat members. Always spices things up a bit.) Then of course you have your classic meeting up somewhere for the day/weekend. These tactics worked quite well for me and I began to feel quite smug.

Distance 2. Gaby 1.

However, year two of uni brought about a big change: my boyfriend and I had started dating over the summer and were both at separate unis. More long distance for me.

Distance 3. Gaby 1. Ugh.

Being in a long distance relationship can be even harder than being in a long distance friendship. (My boyfriend will be reading this so I hasten to add that it is also very wonderful and rewarding.) The key to a good relationship is communication and – surprise, surprise – that’s a whole lot harder when you’re not in the same place. We did our best to see each other at least once a month, we rang every day and we even went old school and wrote letters. It was hard but I learnt a few things:

  • Every friendship and relationship requires an effort to communicate
  • Hearing someone’s voice, even in a voice note, is so much better than texting
  • Letters and cards can feel really special

Distance 3. Gaby 2.


Mountain View

Surviving Cambridge through long distance love

Second year had merely been a warm up for my third year, when I ran away to Italy and Paris for my Year Abroad. As you can imagine, my friends and boyfriend weren’t very impressed with me. The time difference (although only one hour) didn’t help much either: Skype arrangements for 7pm would invariably have one of us waiting for the other, lunchtimes rarely overlapped and if my boyfriend was going out with friends we’d have to ring at 8pm before he left, as I had work the next day. But if second year had taught me anything it was that you have to make an effort to keep people in your life. The calling and letter writing soon extended to my whole friendship group and I like to think that we did a pretty good job.

Now, as I go into my fourth year, I feel a little nervous, as many of my friends have graduated and are now scattered across the country. While I know that I will miss them, it’s also a comfort to know that long distance doesn’t mean the fizzling out or end of my friendships.

Final score?

Distance 3. Gaby 10.