Friday, 12 September 2014

University #8: Friends – Leaving Them

It’s never nice to say goodbye to your closest friends, particularly if you’re from a small community where everyone has gone to the same primary school, high school and sixth form, and the friends you are leaving behind are the only ones you’ve ever known. As I mentioned in my ‘You’re In, What Next’ post, it’s really important to spend time with those closest to you before you leave, however once you have left you have to make the effort to keep in contact with people.

I am really bad at keeping in contact – sometimes no matter how much I want to check in on a person I just never get round to doing it. This term, I want to make more of an effort to text, facebook and skype with friends – and you do need to actively set time aside to do this. This being said, friendship is a two way street, and conversations can’t always come from one side, so if you feel you’re putting in more than the other person have a chat - it may just be that they have a lot more on than you at the moment etc.

If you’re in a relationship before you leave, I never see the point in breaking up just because it’s going to be more effort. If you want the relationship to work, you’ll have to set aside the money and plan in the time for visits and skype calls etc. However, once again it can’t always be one sided. For example, I’m at uni in my home city so I’m always the one expected to make the visits to friends/boyfriends, which is a huge financial and time strain upon me that people often don’t think about because for them visiting me would be ‘going home’.

If you are in a relationship, and particularly if you’re both going into your first year, then I would wait until you were at least half way through first term before you make the first visits to each other. You need to have the time and the space to make friends as an individual rather than always being known as ‘that couple’. Be kind to the other person, especially in the first two weeks of term when everything is strange, new and exciting, and don’t stress or be angry if they take a bit longer to reply to your texts. You might also have to be more open with each other, and if you are struggling with the distance and lack of communication you need to speak up about it. It’s probably a problem you can fix. For me, I was in a relationship for the first two years of my degree, with one year of it being long distance. We’ve since split up because there were communication problems (ie, it was hard to skype because one of us had a bad line, I was in my second year so the workload was greater, he was in his first so he was out partying more etc), but I still believe if we had spoken about them sooner it wouldn’t have been an issue. So, to borrow a phrase from the Green Brothers, ‘use your words!'

However, despite all of this, when it comes to friendship at least, what I’ve always found is that no matter how bad you are at keeping in contact, as soon as you come home from uni things slot back into place. I can have not spoken to someone for almost the entire academic year and be right where we left off in the summer. It can be easy to compartmentalise uni and home, which is why it’s simple to slip back into old friendships, but it’s also why communication breakdowns happen during term time. Be understanding, but make an effort when you can, and speak up if there’s a problem. In theory, it should be as simple as that!

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