A friend of mine looks up at a muted Los Angeles sky, while standing next to me on a street corner. She points to a plane gracefully flying overhead. I think of my friend who’s a world away and I stare at her in confusion. She says, “I always wish people flying above me well.” Her family is in South Korea.

My friend Jess and I first met while at my then boyfriend’s apartment in North Hollywood. At the time, in 2013, we were the only non-smokers in the room so we sat together and got to know one another. We found out that that we both worked at the same visual effect company and soon became fast friends. That was four years ago. Since then she’s moved to New Zealand.

One of my favorite things to do with her was go down to a local brunch place called Eclectic Café in North Hollywood on Sundays. They had all you could drink mimosas that included breakfast. We would have a lazy day and sit and talk about life, boys and when her new job would confirm details on her departure to New Zealand. It was an exciting time for her, but I knew at some point she would leave.

In 2014 only a little over a year of getting to know her, I dropped her off at LAX, and that was that. While she’s been away we’ve had to get creative in keeping in touch.

So, how do you stay in touch with friends you’ve made, who are now a world away? I’ve found these tips to help immensely.


Thank goodness for technology. As an iPhone user I just used the world clock function on my phone once I found out the city my friend was moving to. This ended up being a 21-hour difference.

iPhone and Android users who want something more robust for time zones should check out World Clock App. It’s a great way to check what time zone, daylight savings, and few other handy items like local currencies and languages spoken, should you wish to pay them a visit.


I have found that there is no end to the possibilities of connecting with your friends in mobile cyberland. You’re busy and so are they, but if you pick the right app you’re bound to have the maximum enjoyment out of the friendship. Below is a list of apps and programs you can use to connect with your pal, depending on the amount of time you have on hand.

When you don’t have unlimited texting: Facebook Messenger
Time Needed: Seconds
Platform: IOS, Android, Windows

Function: Messaging your daily rants or that sending an emoji of a dancing bear is all you need to brighten your friend’s day.

When you want to have a platonic date night: Skype
Time Needed: At least a solid ten minutes to an hour to catch up
Platform: IOS, Android, Windows and Computers

Function: When you want to have a pal’s night. Grab your laptop and watch a movie together, make chicken or tell about the latest engagement or breakup. The only thing about trying to video chat is the connection reliability. This might be 2017, but the Internet is still not always trustworthy, depending on your location.

When you want to want to share your best cat photo: Instagram
Time Needed: One to three minutes
Platform: IOS, Android, Windows

Function: This multiuse, ever-changing app keeps updating its functionalities. It can be used for sharing awesome photos and tiny videos, but you can also private message users! When looking at my feed of pictures I always get surprised when I see a remote island or a field of flowers overlooking an epic mountain range. Usually these photos are of my friends adventures in New Zealand. .

When you want to leave a short voice message: Whatsapp
Time Needed: Thirty seconds to two minutes
Platform: IOS, Android, Windows

Function: It’s another messaging service but it adds some extra features the others don’t. Voice Messages can be left on Whatsapp just like voicemail. Photos, videos, text messages and calls can all be made for free as long as there is some sort of connection. I know when I travelled abroad my carrier was not happy with me. Using this app helped bridge the gap.

When you want to be a wordsmith: Words With Friends
Platform: IOS, Android, Windows

Function: Words with friends is basically like Scrabble for your phone. It’s a perfect option if you and your friend are literary inclined.

When you have artistic aspirations: Draw Something

Time Needed: Three to five minutes
Platform: IOS, Android, Windows

Function: It’s a great way to connect with your friend if you only have a few minutes between subway connections. (Warning: This game might incite giggling, as you watch your friends trying to draw a dinosaur with limited options and time.)

When you want to play a card game: Hearthstone

Time Needed: Five to Ten Minutes
Platform: IOS, Android

Function: This game has a little bit of a learning curve, but there are a few warm up levels to get the hang of it. It’s from the company Blizzard, known for making such property’s as World of War Craft and Heroes of the Storm. This fun card game can be multiplayer with your friend for free. You rise up in the ranks, while also battling each other at the same time.


Nobody tells you how hard it is going to be in maintaining your friendship from long distance. Sometimes it takes sending items in the mail like specialty chocolate from Whittakers or foreign films that won’t be released elsewhere for months.

Send boxes/cards/letters/Homemade Crafts
There’s nothing like a homemade gift made by your dear friend. It’ll be like sending them a little bit of home. Some quick ideas are headrest pillows, knot quilts or tiny hand warmers. Pinterest.com is a great resource for little ideas.

Shop for them
Over the holidays or on any occasion you can use Shop And Box. It’s a great way to shop, box and send all in one spot. You can find items from all over the world. It’s more of a personal way to shop with an actual person making sure your items get to point A to point B.

Now that your friend is no longer physically present, finding connection will be more of a challenge. I know when my friend moved away I had to reshape my social calendar. I had to take into account that my Saturday night was her Sunday, so if I planned anything on a weekend I tried to plan it on a Friday night. I missed my friend a lot, and had to get used to her not being around physically. To make up for it, I tried to figure out how to bring those moments back with these mindsets and activities.

Get Curious. Ask all the Questions: Ask for all the details. If your friend had a party the night before, instead of asking them if it was good, you could ask what kind of food they made, who attended, and how they decorated.

Have a Heart to Heart: When we go through a sad season such as a breakup, explain what happened just as if they were across the table eating pancakes and drinking mimosas with you. At least for me Skype doesn’t always work (especially if your friend is always working long hours). Instant messaging is a beautiful invention in situations like these.

Connect through Online Gaming: There are so many different online games out there that allow you to connect with friends. Companies such as Blizzard have a variety of games such as World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, and Diablo, which are pretty popular.

If you aren’t into Blizzard games, Final Fantasy 14 has a large universe of characters and all the things you loved about the single player versions, but with a multiplayer aspect.

Engage in a Club: Have your own book club. Recruit members from both your friend groups and then have a Skype session where everyone in the group gets to talk about the reading. It will bridge the divide, and you may be able to make new friends from it. Or any other kind of activity that would spark a group environment. For the ladies you could have a LulaRoe pop up boutique party; there’s nothing like supporting the female entrepreneurial spirit.

Create a Scavenger Hunt: Ask your friend to come up with a list of places you used to visit together back in your city. Then take photos of the places your friend sends you to. When you get done with the hunt, post to Instagram or your social media platform of choice. Alternatively, you could come up with a scavenger hunt for where your friend moved to. They could then show you all the new places. It would be like a virtual walking tour of their hometown.

TV Marathon Time: Take your favorite series and do an epic binge watch together. I just noticed that The O.C. is now on Netflix in the United States. This show might not be your cup of tea, but growing up as a teenager it was my jam. It’s like a modern day Friends, set in sunny Orange County, California.

I wish you all luck in finding beauty in your friendship, and not letting distance be a reason to stop talking about Game of Thrones, the new Beyoncé album or making a virtual coffee date happen. Don’t despair, I have full faith in you!

Jen Sparkman

about Jen Sparkman

Jen is a writer living in sunny Los Angeles. When she's not stuck listening to podcasts in her car while sitting in traffic she's running an online independent magazine called The Articles of Antiquity.

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