Thursday, November 10, 2011

Friends find comfort in care packages

Columnist encourages students to reach out to peers abroad

By Caitlin Elrod, Opinion Columnist

The word for friend in Norwegian is “venn,” and one thing I know about friends is that they come and go.

We all remember being a first-year student—the moment we realized that some of our closest friends had moved on and we had found other friends.

One of the hard things about studying abroad for me has been losing contact with my friends due to distance and time changes.

When I left Pacific Lutheran University for summer break, I knew that some friends would stay in contact and others would not.

When people I considered close friends fell out of contact, it hurt. Not just because the people I thought were close friends ended up not being so, but because I no longer could share my experience with them.

But things are not all sad.

It is quite amazing who has come out of the woodwork to support me while I am studying abroad.

People I thought had forgotten me, or those I did not consider close friends were the ones who sent me messages in my care package from the Wang Center.

Getting my care package from PLU was an adventure. Since the address on the package from the Wang Center was incorrect; I was the only student not to receive a package the day they all arrived in our mail boxes.

I emailed the sojourner advocates and they fixed the problem.

A week later, the package arrived outside of my apartment on the seat of my bicycle. The wait was worth it.

In the package were messages from people I had not expected to hear from at PLU, such as Ally Stillwell and Lisa Carlson. I met them when I first came to PLU and they were friends of mine last year. Both sent me messages wishing me well, and I talk to Ally often.

Stena Troyer, a girl who was on step team with me, sent me a message saying how she missed me at step and my spunk.

Lastly, Alex Quiner, someone I met at the class of 2014 Portland gathering, wished me well.

The messages I received from all of them made my week. These messages are posted on my wall, reminding me every day of who is rooting for me to succeed while I am here.

Remember your friends who are studying abroad.

Send them a message or an email to let them know that you are thinking about them.

Anyone can become lonely when those you used to eat dinner with, run to with your problems, and laugh with are suddenly thousands of miles away.

Reach out by emailing, Skyping, tweeting, or writing on their Facebook wall.

Let them know you remember them.

Go old school and hand write your friends a letter after getting their address from them.

You never know who you will make smile just by reaching out and reminding your friends you are still there.

Please remember your friends: Husk vennene dine.