The end of my senior year of high school consisted of signed yearbooks, pictures and promises to maintain contact and friendship. Unfortunately, yet realistically, not all these promises became fulfilled. People I had known for years slowly drifted away from my life’s path, but college brought its own ways of meeting new souls.
I imparted upon myself to make the summer after senior year worthwhile in the friendship department. Every weekend was a new adventure around the city I would soon leave for an entire semester. I baked cookies with my band friends, went out for ice cream with my orchestra friends and had a potluck game night with my study group friends. I went hiking and explored local night markets and restaurants with my closest buds that I had grown up with since freshman year of high school, and we strengthened our bonds in hopes that even our differing college courses would not leave our friendships stranded. To top the summer off, I hosted a pool party so I could say goodbye to the people who had meant the most to me for the past few years. A few days later, I was whisked away to the foreign environment of college that would be my new home for the next four years.
To say that making friends was easy for me would simply be a lie. Maybe I was overwhelmed by the entirety of the new student body whom I had never seen in my life, which made me gravitate towards my room for meals and studying. Maybe it was my homesickness that often made me journey home on the weekends and even compelled me to visit my high school and my underclassmen friends on one of my free days. Less than an hour’s drive away from my home, my new school filled with new people seemed more like a dream than reality. With time, reality slowly but surely came into focus. My senior year friends’ new schools were too far for me to visit and many of them were caught up in their own studies, too busy to even text. For the first time in my life, I was lonely.
About a month into the semester, I was sick of isolation, and, overhearing a classmate talking about a movie screening, I asked on a whim if I could come along too. Walking into the common room that night, I expected to be coldly stared down by other teenagers, but instead I was warmly welcomed by a group of freshmen that I recognized from throughout all of my classes. Soon enough we were eating out every Friday night and watching movies followed by card games on Saturday nights like clockwork. Our group chat, christened “Movie Club,” blew up with silly emojis and inside jokes nearly every day.
Flash forward to winter break. My new friends returned to their home cities across the states bordering the Pacific Ocean, and I returned to mine. I rekindled my hometown friendships with more hiking adventures and chats over bowls of soup and cups of coffee. However, we sometimes struggled to find topics to talk about. My old study group planned another potluck and shared our unique experiences of the past few months, coming back from schools of various sizes, locations and demographics. Although we were apart for only a few months, I could sense our newfound fragility; some members of the group even showed reluctance to meet again. Without shared experiences and studies, we were practically strangers attempting to hang onto outdated jokes and memories doomed to dwindle away.
The rocky roller coaster of friendship continued its way through second semester of college with even more surprising results. I expected my Movie Club friends to reunite in February, but the first weekend passed and then the second as well, with our chat still left untouched since our early December Secret Santa exchange. We simply did not fall back together, and we found other, new people to be our companions. I became more involved in clubs, meeting plenty of people that I found myself waving to in the quad and sharing my day’s events with through rehearsals, practices and meetings. Not only did I study with my new lab partners, but I also laughed at memes with them over plates of pizza in the dining hall. Stressful Thursday nights cramming essays in the library and easygoing Saturday brunches were reserved for my roommate and me, interspersed with talk about formal dresses and our opinions on the hippest pop artists.
That semester, I also decided to pledge a fraternity. At first, I felt awkward having to spend so much time in meetings and meals with other freshmen I did not know, but bonding activities gave us plenty of shared experiences, and I found myself always having someone around campus to walk with and talk to. During spring break, several of us even went road-tripping and camped for a few days in a dessert where we hiked and played games around a campfire. The pledging process also revealed surprising similarities; a brother who I had never seen before in my life before rush actually lived on the floor above mine and shared classes and a love of science with me. Before long, we were doing nearly everything together: Walking between classes, going to mock exams, checking each others’ labs and eating meals while exchanging hilarious high school stories. Come finals week, we practically hand-cuffed ourselves inside the same study room. To celebrate having passed our last exam of the year, we watched a marathon of our favorite shows and laughed through countless YouTube videos.
The end of the semester came quickly, and with it came excited goodbyes. I parted with my new friends through countless final brunches and dinners as one by one they drove or flew away from our shared home. With months of separation ahead of us, we promised to stay in touch, almost resembling my senior year goodbyes. Only this time, our current snapstreaks and text histories can attest to our strengthening rather than waning friendships. Despite being counties and — in some cases, countries — away from each other, we are confident in meeting up for summer adventures before our new lives begin as sophomores in the fall.
Just like other aspects of freshman year, friendships need adjusting too, and they are amazingly unpredictable. Old friends from home will move on, and that is a hard truth to grasp. Even new friends may be hard to come by with different groups and individuals passing through your life and sometimes on without you. But just know that at any institution, there will always be people that will click with you with a type of crazy friendship magic to fill your year with shared laughter and smiles.