University: making and breaking friendships.

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Unless you happen to live at home during your degree, University students tend to have two homes: the city you live in while you do your degree and the place you lived in beforehand. Therefore, you have two almost completely separate groups of friends, the friends whom you met at University – be they course friends, flatmates or society buddies – and the friends you had before University began – your home friends.

Friendship is about connection and the time you spend together socialising. But when you live in a completely different place for nine months of the year, keeping up with everyone becomes a little more complicated. Though it can be difficult and takes more effort from everyone involved, it is important to maintain relationships with your friends at home. For one thing, once you finish University, it’s very likely that you will go back to live at home and it could be quite lonely if you’ve let the friendships there disintegrate.

Firstly though, there’s something we need to talk about: toxic friends. At some point we’ll probably all have one, and if there’s a home friend who is also your toxic friend, I need to mention that it is absolutely A-Okay to cut that person out of your life. At school or college you are forced to interact with a bunch of people, and you spend about 7 hours a day, 5 days a week with them, so you have to make friends. You can definitely drop some of these friends from your life if they bring more negativity into it than positivity.

The same applies if you find a toxic friend at University. There are literally thousands of people around you and all of them are potential friends. Find the good ones and make them your mates, because University is hard work. There’s manic deadlines and a lot of stress. You do not need further strain from any manipulative friends, or friends who create too much drama. Soon you won’t be a teenager anymore, you will be an adult (sorry, but you will) and you need a worthwhile group of people to support you. You’re at University, and you have a lot more choice now. Choose people who add to your life, rather than take away from it. You will be grateful, believe me.

Now back to home friends. Once you’ve chosen who you want to stay a part of your life, you need to do some maintenance on the relationship while you’re away. Of course some home friends are content not to have contact during term time, and only catch up during the holidays. These friends are an absolute blessing, and you should treasure them, because people who are this stable and uncomplicated could end up being your friend for many years to come. Often these friends are the ones who also went to University, so they’re as busy as you are and don’t mind leaving it three months between conversations: they have their own work and social lives to deal with!

Other home friends will need a little bit more effort on your part to keep the connection going. It can be really easy to forget to check in with these friends, because hey, University life is really busy, you probably have a lot of friends here and a lot of work to do too. Trust me though, you need to put the time in – particularly if your home friends didn’t go to University themselves.

You stuffed most of your worldly possessions into the boot of the car and left on this new adventure. You moved in with a bunch of strangers and started a whole new life. Exciting stuff. For your friends who didn’t go to University, this is what happened: Most of their friends left, and lots of them probably forgot to check back in at home because they were having such a great time. I don’t want to say they feel abandoned but *whispers* they just might feel a little bit like that. Take the time to message home friends. Text them, Skype them, whatever you have available to you. They’re your friends for a reason. The bond is different to the connection you have with your University friends, but it’s just as important! There are years of memories that you share with home friends which it would be a shame to forget about. Frankly, it’s just nice to have somebody there who knew you when you were a kid. Your University friends have absolutely no knowledge of you or your life before you moved into dorms, but your home friends do – they remember the same people as you, and know all of your embarrassing stories : what annoyed you about school, about your family – maybe they helped you through some tough times, too? Years of history like this are not to be taken lightly, and as much as you can (and will) make some amazing friends for life at University, the people who came before are just as important.

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