It’s a new semester! Some new faces, some old ones, but definitely not the same faces I saw everyday for 17 years back at home. When I visited my parents in Hong Kong over break, they asked me if I stayed in touch with anyone from my childhood. Um, of course? It’s not that hard keeping in touch with friends from home while you’re at school, especially since almost everyone has a Facebook, Instagram, or at least a cell phone! Or so I thought. When I went back to my hometown of Summit, NJ for a few days, I learned that maintaining old friendships is harder than it seems. But it doesn’t have to be.
When we unpack our bags at college and roam the dormitory halls, peeking into rooms to see who our new neighbors are, or peep around our classrooms, trying to spot our future partners in the room, we expect to form new, lasting friendships. I know when I first arrived at USC, I made every effort possible to meet new people. I walked around New/North introducing myself to friendly-looking freshmen, discovered clubs at the Involvement Fair and went to a few interest meetings, and even started conversations about food in my smaller classes. Who knew so many people shared an interest in Oreos and Peanut Butter Cups? Even now, I’m still friends with close to 90% of the people I met within the first week of school. Throughout my entire semester, though, I never abandoned my friends from home.
When I went back to Summit for a few days this month, I hosted a dinner at a local restaurant for about 22 of my closest friends from home. I had spoken to all my friends at least three times while I was at school, but so many of them were surprised to see each other! “OH my gosh, how are you?! What have you been up to?!” “OH my gosh, you look so good! I haven’t seen you in forever!” “Wait, do I know you?” I realized that, even though all of us at dinner were friends with each other, not all of us maintained the same close friendships we had before college. And it made me *insert sad emoji*. Sitting there, I was glad we were all able to catch up and gossip about how fun college is (I love studying on the weekends *insert fake smile emoji*) but I was also wishing we could all get along like we used to in middle school. I wished I could have baked a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy. But my life is not a American teen comedy film (yet). No, but sitting next to my best friends, speaking with them like we used to, as if the semester was but an hour-long and I had never left home, I appreciated my friendships that much more.
Ultimately, the only way to maintain friendships with people back at home is communication. Whether you want constant or occasional communication is your choice. I speak to three of my closest friends everyday in a group message (we call ourselves the “Conquerors of the Universe”) about little things like, “What should I TBT today?” or the TV show “Revenge”, but we also use each other for advice when we feel anxious or lonely. Every so often, I message other friends to see how they’re doing. We are honestly so lucky that distance means very little when we have all these sources for communication at our fingertips. So when you get to college, keep your eyes open for new friends around you, but don’t shut them to your friends from home. After all, your friends from home know all your embarrassing stories, and you wouldn’t want them leaking those out now would you? *wink*