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Feb 16 2017
by Emily Luong

Opposites Attract: How my Close Friendships with Two STEM Majors Work

By Emily Luong - Feb 16 2017

As someone who knew absolutely not a single soul stepping onto campus for the first time as a college student, I knew from the beginning that developing friendships was an integral part to the successful transition into college life. At first, I had envisioned sharing and spreading my love for creative writing and fantasy novels with other like-minded students. I imagined lively discussions and debates about our favorite scenes in literature and late night peer editing sessions of our latest short stories. Lo and behold, never would I have ever imagined that my two closest friends in college, whom I consider like sisters, would be my exact polar opposites, as STEM-oriented  students. But while each of our passions will never be reciprocated, somehow, our friendship seems to work — a bond I will never take for granted.

It goes without saying that being best friends with both a Biology major and an intended Engineering major is, at times, quite frustrating, given our different preferences and ways of thinking. I often find myself defending the merits of subjectivity, writing, reading and essays, while attentively listening to my friends’ arguments for objectivity, problem solving, experimentation and exams. I wrinkle my nose in distaste at research proposals on E. coli, lab work and Calculus problem sets. Likewise, they do the same to my pages upon pages of assigned reading and English papers. But while we thoroughly enjoy teasing each other for our distinct courses of study, we all share the same sense of respect and acceptance.

Perhaps we hadn’t drifted apart the moment we met each other at first-year orientation because of our ability to use our respective strengths to help each other, rather than tear each other down by simply arguing which field was "better." I edit the summer research internship application essays and research proposals for grammatical errors and organization. On the flip side, I always have a budding medical professional to provide me with the best health advice whenever I feel under the weather, especially during midterms and final exam periods as well as someone who can quickly compute math in her head when shopping during sales and determining restaurant tips. This symbiotic dynamic that has developed between the three of us is one of the main factors that inextricably binds us together for better or worse.

But majors and career aspirations aside, what I believe is at the very core of our friendship is a shared bond as academically driven young women who absolutely adore sushi, milk teas, bargains and baby animals. I think it’s important to note that as human beings we are all so much more than what we study and what we chose as our occupations. In acknowledging one friend’s interest in pathology and the other’s in physics, I also see them as kind, thoughtful, inquisitive and hilarious individuals. Perhaps there will be a time when I befriend other students interested in the humanities in the near future, but until then, I am perfectly content with who I have chosen to place my utmost trust and loyalty in. 

Lead Image Credit: chuttersnap via Unsplash

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Emily Luong - Smith College

Emily Luong is a first year student at Smith College (class of 2020) and plans to major in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. In high school, Emily was the Arts and Entertainment Editor of the school newspaper, an intern staff writer for the local newspaper, and the captain of the swim team. In her free time, Emily enjoys writing short stories, reading fantasy novels, and binge watching TV shows on Netflix. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @emilyjaieluong

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