What University Taught Me About Friendships

Ever since starting university about two and a half years ago (time flies!), I have learned a lot both in and outside of the classroom. One thing in particular was navigating friendships in university. At the start of fall in 2016, I was looking forward to starting university with some of the people I knew back in secondary school, or high school. I thought that I would continue to be friends with them in university. However, I was wrong. We ended up having completely different schedules and could not find the time to meet up. So, this left me struggling with how to find friends. I tried joining some organisations and societies on campus and while I did meet people, I didn’t really find anyone I could bond with at the time.

My first takeaway about friendships in university is finding the right people can take time. In high school or secondary school, it was very easy to meet people in your classes and see them at lunch time. However, in university it is much harder to find compatible people. You actually have to go out of your way to find them. Also, friendships take much more effort to keep up with. You should be consistently be in contact with your friend, so the connection is there. Since everyone’s class schedule is different, you may not see them every day. During my first year of university, I met one of my best friends from constantly seeing her almost every time I was entering or exiting our residence hall. We kept running into each other and eventually she suggested that we have dinner together at the school dining hall. We continued to do so and eventually we became really close friends. Unfortunately, she transferred to another university after our first year, but we are still good friends.

My second takeaway is that friends should be as invested in you as you are with them. Finding friends during my time abroad at the University of Leeds may be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. Not helped by the face that one person took advantage of me. And once I realised what they were doing (which was far too late, but better late than never), I ended the ‘friendship.’ Another incident happened where I spent time with one of my flat mates by regularly getting meals together at the Refectory and suddenly she started hanging out with another group of friends without ever spending time with me. Also, a couple times during my time abroad, I would find myself in a friend group and be getting along with them at first but then realise over time that I am not compatible with them. This situation has been particularly interesting since I never know the best way to exit a friend group. Usually, the disinterest is mutual. I find myself not able to stay involved with the conversations and they notice that I don’t fit in as much. I slowly stop hanging out with the group and usually there is no harm done. I sometimes see members of the group and we still can say hi to each other and leave it at that. If they don’t show any interest in you or want to spend time with, that’s a sign you should let them go.

My third takeaway is that you should feel comfortable around your friends. If at any point you feel insecure or uneasy, that may be a sign that you’re truly not friends. I’ve had many instances where the friendship felt forced and I felt very uncomfortable hanging out with certain people. Once you find people that you feel comfortable around, you can easily tell just by your mood around them. I’ve met other people where we have a great conversation flowing and I truly feel a bond with that person. We make plans to hang out and show interest in each other. I feel comfortable telling them almost anything and can be my true self around them.

I have learned so much about friendships and look forward to learning more as I near the end of my university experience. Friendships aren’t easy, but they are sure worth it when you find the right people.