Childhood chums or student squad?

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In society, the primary function of University is to provide the public with the means of achieving a qualification in order to better gain employment. However, for students, especially those making the transition from college to undergraduate study, it is normal for the social role of University to outweigh the academic one.

Indeed, last September whilst packing my bags to start my first year at Newcastle University and discussing my new living mates with my mum she commented, “it’s strange to think that these will be your best friends for life.” This made me uncomfortable. Firstly, what if I didn’t like the people I met – the spectrum of backgrounds at University is much wider than the closed environment I experienced at school. Secondly, I already had friends who I would consider “best friends for life” at home and the thought of replacing them was not one that I was okay with. In a way, my mum was right. For the vast majority of University students, the friends that they make will be the ones they have for life. However, this doesn’t mean they necessarily take over from friends from home.

“That sense of “home” that you share cannot be underestimated and it is a feeling that University friends, however close you become, cannot provide.”

It is impossible to say whether friends from home or University are better. For many, it depends on the relationship that they had with friends from school. Thinking that you can manage to maintain contact with a great number of friends from home while at University is unrealistic – there simply isn’t enough time. I knew the small group of friends that I would stay close to, even if it would go from seeing each other every day to once every couple of months, and those who I would likely lose. After all, it is with friends from home that you grow up with and experience some of the biggest changes in life. That sense of “home” that you share cannot be underestimated and it is a feeling that University friends, however close you become, cannot provide.

However, there is still a lot of growing up to be done when arriving at University. Being put into housing with a group of complete strangers – all learning how to live on their own – forges fast and strong friendships. It also provides the chance of a fresh start with people who know nothing about your past. Nonetheless, there is something bizarre about building such close relationships so quickly. The chance to be living with my new friends next year is incredibly exciting but, at the same time, slightly bizarre given that there is still so much to learn about each of them.   

“Being put into housing with a group of complete strangers – all learning how to live on their own – forges fast and strong friendships.”

For me, as cliché as it sounds, it is impossible to choose between friends from University and home. When at Newcastle I long to spend time with my mates from college. However, when I do spend a long period of time back home, I always end up counting down the days to return to the people at University. My friends here have become a family away from home who mean the world to me but, at the same time, the memories I have made, and will continue to make, with those at home hold an equal importance.

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