As with most higher education students my friendship base was split between two groups; long established ‘home friends’ and new ‘university friends’. I love each group equally but I don’t feel I’m out of line in saying that they are two very different friendships.
I am lucky enough to have known the majority of my close home girlfriends since I was very young. We’ve been through every rite of passage together and really did grow up in each other’s pockets. We went through SAT’s, GCSE’s and A-Levels together, celebrated every birthday from 5th up to 21st and all went through our ‘firsts’ together. First boyfriends, first legal night (first illegal night out as well but let’s gloss over that) first attempt at smoking and the first time someone holds your head back over the toilet after your first encounter with spirits – not pretty. You name it and the six of us have been there for each other every step of the way. Going to university was going to be a struggle, not to replace them, but to find people who could ultimately fill the gap the girls left. Despite us all being at different places round the country, we never lost touch and never lost that closeness. It takes a strong friendship to last not seeing each other for possibly months on end and I am incredibly grateful I had that.
Friendships formed at university are completely different to those from home however. Friendships are almost thrust upon you initially, as you try and get to know as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. I’m not saying there’s a time frame but there is more pressure on finding like-minded, nice people. Not only are you forced into friendships but you’re also living with them. Before you came to university you were unlikely to have lived with your friends for longer than a few nights, yet suddenly you are having to find future housemates that won’t drive you insane living with them 24/7. Once these are established, then you can relax a little, and really get to know your roomies. My housemates were all amazing and I loved living with them with – more or less – no dramas. You get to know someone on a completely different level when you live with them and they become more like a family then friends. It’s such an intense level of friendship, almost a speeded-up version of normal life. I became as close to my uni family in half the time as my home girls, and I was a blubbering mess when I moved out of what had been my home. Having been at home ten weeks or so now, I have missed them an indescribable amount. My university experience is largely down to the wonderful people I met and I hope to keep up with as many of them as possible.
As a recent graduate I’ve found moving back home hard. My girlfriends here are still wonderful and we are as close as ever. Our friendship had a solid grounding and years of memories, which will take more than three years apart to shake. I’m confident that these girls will be there when I’m 30, 40, 50 and beyond. I wish I could be so confident about my university gang. There are some of course who I will stay in contact with, but inevitably there are some who I simply won’t. It won’t be malicious or deliberate, but it will happen. I really do hope to stay close friends with everyone, but with everyone based in different counties and with very empty wallets currently it does make staying in contact harder. I could never fight my friendship groups off against each other – I would never dream of it – they’re difficult to compare as they were born of different circumstances. I treasure them equally and I do hope they stand the test of the time. Alas, we will see.