Not in Kansas anymore: Maintaining long distance relationships after graduation

Close to 500 students will graduate from the high school this year and will then jump into the larger world one step closer to adulthood. Scary, right? Leaving high school usually means attending a postsecondary institution for the next four or so years, where students share shoe-box size dorm rooms and limited space for belongings. What will students leave behind? Their out-of-season clothes? Their extra pairs of shoes they wear three times a year? Their closest friends?

The Move Out

Out of high school, young graduates have a few choices, but they all share one thing in common: they’re officially on their own in the real world.

“I moved to Seattle straight out of high school at the age of 18,” local mother of two students Sharon Nelson said. “I then got a job working for Trident Seafoods, and they sent me to Alaska. The locations I worked in were so isolated; employees were required to take a three-week vacation in between each six-month contract.”

College is a completely new lifestyle compared to the “under my roof, follow my rules” families many kids come from, so sometimes adjusting to that amount of responsibility can be strenuous.

“[Alaska] was a pretty good situation,” Nelson said. “Go to work from sun up to sun down, spend time with new friends, go to bed and do it all over again the next day.”

Comparing a fishing job in the coastal parts of Alaska to the typical life of college student could not seem further apart on the spectrum, but ironically, 2018 graduate, now freshman at the University of Toledo, Dominic Torio, relayed nearly the same thoughts about college life.

“Being at college is like high school in the sense that you have a constant routine of getting up for classes daily, studying, sleeping and repeating that the next day,” Torio said, “but now, you have to manage all of that on your own and it is a lot harder to keep up with.”

Communication

Nowadays, communication has been forever changed by technological advancements. Whether it’s through Facetime, Skype, other social medias, or just a simple text message, it is much more complex than anything our parents and the previous generations had in their high school and college years.

“We didn't have cell phones or internet, and we couldn't even get TV or US radio in some locations, so I wrote letters, a lot. I would write my mom every day as if I was talking to her in person. I would mail the letters once a week; they were always about nine pages long,” Nelson said.

A lot of times, communication can become spotty when two close people start growing in different directions or are going through different stages of life.

“Everyone goes through life at their own pace, but true friends have a way of working their way back into your life when the time is right,” Nelson said.

There is an overwhelming amount of ways to keep in touch with those who are no longer close to home. However, sometimes a special touch comes out of old-fashioned “instant messaging.”

“My mom would send me care packages in reply to my letters. I never knew how much I missed home until she sent me a box of cereal and homemade VHS tapes full of cartoons that my soon-to-be brother in-law recorded for me while he was home sick from work one day,” Nelson said.

Managing Responsibility

Time management is a very common obstacle that college students face during their first year on campus. Balancing studying, extracurriculars and new friends can be challenging on top of everything that he or she left back in their hometown.

“It’s hard to find the time of day to call home, or even send a text because everyone in my family is on a different schedule being that my brother is still in high school, my sisters are wrapping up college and my parents are at work as well,” Torio said.

Finding Time in a New Time Zone

Many graduates try to stay in-state for post-secondary studies, but other students take their academics across the world like Bennett Thompson who is completing a two-year program in Oxford, United Kingdom.

“I text [my family and friends] on Whatsapp and FaceTime them as well when I can, but everyone has busy schedules, and I am on a completely different time, so it complicates things even more, “Thompson said. “With various social media platforms, it’s easier to see what is going on back home and communicate on apps that send messages overseas.”

Changing scenery for college can give students a new aspect and broader look at the world that many do not get to experience during their academic years unless they apply for a study-abroad program.

“Coming together with new students from all over the world that have different accents, speak several languages- and come from different backgrounds is one of the hardest parts to adjust to,” Thompson said.

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