Together Still, A Continent Apart

One of the many things that Arcadia is known for is study abroad. Arcadia’s been ranked No. 1 for the number of students participating in a study abroad experience. When my good friend Anilyn told me that she would be studying in Istanbul, Turkey, for the fall semester, I was filled with joy and excitement for her. I had never been abroad myself and this would be her first time. Then, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to tag along.

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Anilyn and I don’t share the same major and we aren’t on the same class level. But it’s our many differences that keep us so close as friends. She assured me that she wouldn’t abandon the states and stay abroad backpacking. But with a free spirit like hers, I felt it was definitely a possibility. My biggest concern was how we would stay in contact since she wouldn’t be able to use her cellphone. When you’re out of the country, phone plans can be very expensive. Nonetheless, we found our solution.

Social media would be our two cans and a string. It was going to be the way that I would live and eat in Istanbul without actually being there.

Social media would be our two cans and a string. It was going to be the way that I would live and eat in Istanbul without actually being there. Anilyn knew that she would have a Wi-Fi connection since she would be abroad for academics and would need to use the Internet for research and writing papers.

Once we figured out how we would stay in touch, we explored which social-media platforms would allow us stay connected the best. One week before Anilyn was scheduled to board her plane, we began planning. We wanted to use not only a text-message platform but something that would allow us to exchange videos of our surroundings and adventures. Snapchat was top choice for video messaging. I would be able to see all of the beautiful mosques and delicious food as Anilyn experienced it. She would be able to see me walk down the walk of pride or have tea in the Commons building as we had done so many times together. While Snapchat is good for videos, not so much for text. Messages disappear shortly after being sent and it was hard to keep conversations going that way. So, we decided to use Instagram and Facebook. Both are perfect for long and short messaging and allowed us to share still images as well. We had it all figured out.

Habibah eating pancakes at Michael's Diner in Glenside.

Me, eating pancakes at Michael’s Diner in Glenside.

Anilyn was away right up until Christmas Eve, but it wasn’t until a week later that we met up again at our favorite diner, Michael’s, across from the Arcadia campus. I had pancakes and she ate mozzarella sticks and fries. In her defense, she just wanted some “all American food.”

We took lots of pictures and, of course, filled each other in on all the things that we hadn’t shared on social media. Social media allowed us to stay in touch, but nothing tops talking in person. Some things are better shared the old-fashioned way.

Photos: Anilyn Bennett ’17