Friendships from Home

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By Emily, Physics
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham

Before myself and my friends left for university, I jokingly told them “remember, no matter how many friends you make there, you’ve known us longer”- and we laughed. But there was some truth in it. I was worried that my friendship group, after having survived seven years of school, would drift apart. I was also worried that I would make absolutely no friends at university, a place known for the development of lifelong friendships.

As these blogs and Student Room posts will tell you though, we were all worried about the same things because we are all human. In the early weeks of university, we made so many video calls – the fun often lasting for 12 hours, spanning the evening to the early morning – like a night out but without the music, uber or crying. As the weeks went on, however, the calls became as sporadic and as my attempts to complete a Couch to 5K. But was the seven-year friendship over? No.

By now, we’d all made friends in accommodation, on our courses and at our respective societies of choice – ranging from archery to hot air ballooning. We had supported each other in those first weeks and given each other the confidence to make new friends, knowing that we always had our old ones. Now, we didn’t need so much encouragement but it didn’t mean we didn’t need or want our old friends. Our group chat remains very active to this day. We visit each other’s universities. Some of us went to Japan and Ireland during the first-year summer. We’ve made a new tradition of spending New Year’s Eve together and, even though we all hate it, we’ll always plague Wetherspoons whenever we get a chance.

This isn’t to say that new friends should be overlooked or placed second. The friendships you make at university will soon feel just as strong as your school friends. Furthermore, you get to choose them yourself. At school, teachers would pair you up, group you with people you didn’t know for projects hoping that you would make more friends while distancing you from the ones you already had. University is different. You’ll still be in a variety of groups and optional classes with a different variety of people, but now you have the freedom to sit where you want, learn how you want and befriend anyone out of thousands of people. And it’s so much easier. All you have to do is turn up to the events planned by the university and its halls.

Although we don’t see each other as regularly as we did at school, my school friends and I truly haven’t drifted apart. When you all have made friends at university, it may seem easier just to let the past go when things seem quiet, but it’s worth making the effort if you had a good relationship with your school friends. Coming home is much more enjoyable when you’ve got some of your best friends there.

In the film Stand by Me, the kid – the main kid, the one who becomes the guy from Jaws who writes all the stories about pies – says “I never had any friends like the ones I had when I when I was twelve”. He’s being too precious about it. You will make good new friends, but it’s nice to keep your oldest ones too.