I have put this post in academic guidance because I am not looking for relationship advice, but for info about how easy it is keep friend and family ties when moving to study somewhere completely new, as well as the practicalities involved. I'm considering graduate study in the USA(I'm from the UK). I've gone so far as to sit the GRE and start the applications so I'm quite serious. My main concern with US PhDs is that they take a long time, during which I would lose contact with a lot of people. I realise that facebook and skype makes it much easier to keep in touch over long distances, but it would still be impossible to pop over for tea on the weekend for example. As a PhD student on an average stipend, how often would I be able to fly home and visit? Does it sound reasonable to set aside $2k per year? If flights were $700 return, that would be about three trips home per year. How much time off could I expect to take? I would also be interested in hearing about how other people have dealt with these issues.