I still remember the excitement I felt during the summer after my A-levels to leave home and meet new people at university. I had a very tight-knit group of friends at home, but I was ready to experience a new chapter of my life with different people.
The boys within our friendship group pretty much all migrated to the same university an hour away, but my four best friends and I all separated across the UK, and in all honesty, I was certain that they were going to move away and move on.
My friendship group was never soppy or ‘huggy’ (whether this was because we all only had brothers for siblings or just because we’re cold-hearted, I don’t know). We rarely rang each other to see how we were and we would just arrange to meet up and have a good time. Our main sources of enjoyment were movie nights with a takeaway (garlic bread was compulsory) or clubbing until the early hours of the morning with a VK in hand.
With the rude disruption from COVID-19, and the 235 miles distance between some of us, however, this all changed, and we could no longer resort to our usual forms of entertainment.
After the novelty of freshers had faded away, we decided to have a zoom call one evening for general catchup. We’d become accustomed to zoom calls over lockdown, but now we had entirely new lives to update each other on. These calls became more frequent for both the whole group and just individuals, and I found that I was speaking to my friends more than I ever did back home. Admittedly, it wasn’t the same as seeing each other in person for a party or a walk along our local pier, but my heart would burst when I received a random call from one of them, and we’d inevitably gossip for hours. As someone who’s very much a home-bird, a call from one of my friends was my fulfillment of being at home whilst being in a locked-down student residence.
We certainly don’t talk every single day, as we’ve all become much more empathetic that we have other lives and responsibilities. Where I would once take great offence if someone didn’t open my message for days, I can now understand the abundance of priorities we all separately have. The demands of university life have matured my expectations of my friends, and now whenever we talk, I count it as a bonus, rather than a norm.
Having not been able to visit each other for almost nine months, we genuinely looked forward to seeing each other over the summer. We wanted to make plans together and make the most of the time we had at home. Being separated at uni made us appreciate our friendships more than we ever did. We went on wholesome trips like camping, and seaside holidays, whilst still enjoying nights on the town like we once did.
Although I’ve learned that some of my friends enter a ‘uni bubble’ and focus on their studies and housemates, it makes us anticipate seeing each other that much more at the end of term. This excitement means we book more things to do together and make definite plans; when we feel a bit down at uni (we all have those days), we always know there’s something in the diary to count down to.
Surprisingly, moving away to uni has done nothing but enhance the friendships I had at home. Not only with my closest friends but also with people I knew from high school. I’ve found myself talking to a more varied group of friends; whether it be someone I sat next to in my English A-Level class, or someone I was in the school show with. There’s a warm feeling about catching up with someone, whether it be via text or in person. It’s true when people say absence makes the heart grow fonder, especially for platonic relationships.