So you’ve survived the first month of college…but has your long-distance relationship survived, too? You’ve met all these new people, made tons of new friends, and joined more clubs than you can count on one hand. The beginning of the new school year (especially when you’re a freshman!) can get pretty hectic, and by the time October rolls around, you suddenly realize you are absolutely swamped with things to do. Perhaps it’s been getting harder and harder to make time to connect with everyone from back home, and if you’re in a long-distance relationship (LDR for short), you may be struggling to find ways to keep the fire alive between all that distance.
Lucky for us, we no longer live in a time where communication means hand-written letters that take weeks and weeks to deliver by stagecoach and ship. In this age of technology, we have Facebook and Twitter, instant messaging and text messaging, emails, phone calls, and Skype to keep us in contact with the ones we love (My grandmother is still in awe of “these newfangled video-phones.”). But how can you preserve that genuine sense of connection with your boyfriend or girlfriend through a tangle of wires and WiFi and monitor screens?
Some simple advice: Think outside the box (or monitor screen) and get creative. Just because you’re miles apart doesn’t mean you can’t do things together. Here are a few simple ideas for spicing up those Skype calls with your sweetheart:
1. Ice Cream Shop
Food and dates go hand in hand, and there’s not much difference on a Skype date either. A trip to the ice cream shop makes for a fun and yummy date that takes hardly any preparation but still goes a long way. It’s a date you can do during the day, and one that won’t take up a huge chunk of time in your busy schedule. You’re changing up the scenery, trading dormitory walls for a bit of college town ambiance. A new setting is something to look forward to. And, of course, nobody can resist dessert!
2. Picnic On A Sunny Day
Again, food and dates. But this time, you are outside in nature, in the grass, in the sunshine. Sometimes you need a change in scenery, but want to get out of the dorms and away from civilization. A date in nature can feel more calming and intimate than one anywhere else. Usually there’s a secluded courtyard or two on campus (just check for WiFi beforehand!). With sandwiches and orange juice and your laptop, you two could even cloud-watch together.
3. Watch A Movie, Or The Latest Episode Of Your Favorite TV Show
The movie date is still a classic, and one you can do over Skype. It may be tricky the first few times you watch video together; you may need to rewind or fast-forward your video to sync up to your partner’s. (Following the movie’s dialogue can help you figure out which adjustment you need.) The audio may sound a little echo-y, but you can also try turning off your sound and having your partner turn up his/her sound so you can hear the movie’s audio through Skype.
If you don’t have enough time for a movie, then maybe a TV show episode instead (one of those short, guilt-free 20-minute ones). Sharing a TV show with your boyfriend or girlfriend can be something you both look forward to every week, something you can laugh over and gasp at and talk about afterwards.
4. Online Classes and Bedtime Reads
Since you two don’t go to the same college (or maybe it’s a high-school-senior-and-college-freshman thing), why not take a class together? My boyfriend and I took a Mechanical Physics class from edX and watched online lectures together. This isn’t technically a date, but it can be a fun thing to do together through Skype if you both share a passion for the same subject (Coursera is another good website for that.).
Same goes for reading to each other. Yeah, it sounds sappy, and I’m sure anyone not in an LDR and reading this is gagging at the thought, but it can be incredibly comforting to fall asleep to your boyfriend/girlfriend’s voice. Plus, you get a story.
5. Game Time
Whether it’s online chess or Diablo 3, play a computer/video game together. Yeah, this is where the guy can get his girl to go all hot-nerdy-chick-gamer on him. Play on the same team or play against each other. Make it a competition where the loser has to strip (Well, that always spices things up!).
6. Romantic Dinner
Notice that half this list is made up of food dates? But believe me, it works. The romantic dinner is another. Both order in Thai food or grab some New York style pizza from around the corner to bring home (The trick is getting the same cuisine, so it feels more like you’re sharing a meal.). Light a candle, maybe dress up fancy. This date also comes in handy when you’re the only one of your friends stuck on campus for Thanksgiving break because plane tickets are so d*mn expensive and you have no one else to eat with. Have an unconventional Thanksgiving dinner over Skype.
When it comes to Skype dates, a few things to keep in mind… Make sure there’s sufficient lighting and minimal noise level. You don’t have to be entirely alone – there may be a group of people sitting at the table next to you at Coldstone’s, and that’s alright – but try to get a little privacy at least. Be aware of the difference in time zones, and put the date in your calendar, because no one likes being stood up, especially not over Skype. And remember, have fun. Skype calls, like any other calls, have their awkward moments at times, but just go with the flow and enjoy it!
If you don’t have Skype already, you can download it for free here.