Well, the easy answer is that: yes, we would still be close, yes, we would still get each other's advice, and yes, we would remember all of our jokes. BUT it required some effort, planning, and commitment to maintain our friendships when there was an ocean between us. Here are some methods you can use to keep in touch with friends, whether you are the one going abroad or are the one holding down the fort at home.
Set expectationsThis is a very, very important first step to take before you part ways! Setting expectations of how often and how you will communicate is key to make sure that you are on the same page and that no one feels ignored or like they are being annoying for reaching out. You can have a casual conversation about this and both have the understanding that things may change as you settle into your new friendship routine. What this aims to do is give you a mutual foundation to work from together.
Share physical mementos
Before a friend leaves, write them a note or make a collage of photos to take with him/her. This way he/she can have a physical reminder of you and it can be comforting in a new environment. If you are going abroad, try sending a postcard back home to let your friend know you are thinking of him/her and to share your experience.
TextFor quick, day to day conversations sending text messages (or using WhatsApp, or your messaging service of choice) is the perfect way to keep in touch. Share a funny gif, tell each other about that hard test, and keep these messages short and sweet. This is a way to stay up to date on the small stuff!
Now, this requires a bit more planning with time changes, and differing schedules, and all that jazz. While it may seem like texting is sufficient, I really believe that hearing and seeing each other trumps it all. You're able to share longer stories and have those conversations that your relationship is built on. Shooting for a call every few weeks is a great way to ensure you have a ton to talk about and don't miss too much.
So your friend hasn't responded to your last message or had to cancel a call? Don't sweat it. You have to remember that you are each having fun experiences that may temporarily keep you from one another, but that being flexible will make you both much happier. Luckily, my friends are a pretty cool bunch who make travel videos and are pro photographers so I always have a way to glimpse into what they are up to. Even if you aren't in that situation, you can send a fast snap chat or share a fun link to stay connected while also respecting that you are each pressed for time.
By using these methods and keeping a clear and flexible mindset you will be able to survive without your friend during time abroad. You can get creative (I've used snail mail on occasion, as well) and share with one another until your joyous reunion!
How do you stay in touch when you or your friend is abroad? What sort of challenges have you faced?