An Ode to the Friends We Left Behind

The big day finally came. The day where you received your offer to study at the University of St Andrews. At first, you’re elated, your body might physically be on Earth, but your mind certainly is not; it’s roaming about somewhere in the clouds, too full of joy to deflate and come back down. But then the dreaded thought hits you, the one thought that you were secretly trying to ignore in the hopes that it would eventually go away; your friends will not be going with you, and you will have to leave without them.

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Very quickly the happiness you felt when you received your offer went sour; how are you going to move away from everyone you know? How are you going to live with strangers? Will you still be friends with your school mates if you move away? The questions became seemingly endless. You really hoped that you would all still remain friends and that you were not just pals because you had been put together in a class at high school and latched onto each other. You wanted those friendships to really mean something, and the fact that you might lose touch when you move away would mean that they were not worth very much. In fact, if anything, the fond memories of times spent together would be tainted; because it would all feel fake.

So, what is the key to maintaining a long-distance friendship when you’re at university? After spending so much time away from home, I can safely say that the trick is to NOT try. Friendships should not be hard work; they are something that should come naturally and if you really have to force yourself to stay friends with someone, then maybe you really do need to ask yourself if the friendship was only meant to last for as long as you both attended the same school.

Every friendship has its twists and turns, it is never always going to be a perfect friendship, but I definitely believe that if anything, university can strengthen the bond you have with your school friends if you are all willing to not force it and just keep doing what you did when you were at school. Granted, you won’t be seeing your best friends every single day – except that there is always FaceTime. I find that it helps to always have plans made for meeting up when you are back home; reading week and the Christmas break are the perfect opportunities to do this, and more often than not you’ll find that that bond you all have together has not magically vanished. You are all still the same people, and it is almost as if nothing has changed.

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There is a bit of a theme between one of my friends and I; when we are talking to each other about our friends from university we say “my uni pals”. It is slightly weird, but it does not just differentiate our two friendship groups from one another, it is almost a way of saying to each other that while we acknowledge that we have new friends, our friendship is not any less significant because of that. They are just simply different types of friendship, but both are special in their own way.

To sum this all up, university can really strengthen your friendships from school, and you might find that you are all actually meeting up more frequently because you are not seeing each other every single day. The bond you all share is still very much present and frankly, it really highlights just how important it is to have friends from outside ‘the bubble’ of our little town.

Maybe school did bring you and your friends together, but you do not need school to keep that friendship going.

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