Sometimes friends are the people you meet your first hours at college. Sometimes you meet them during classes or at parties. Sometimes these people are the random boys upstairs or that quiet girl across the hall who invite you to do shots with them during a pregame on a Saturday night. Regardless of whether these people came into your life bearing 3 a.m. Pop Tarts or plopped down next to you in your advisor’s office, as frustrated with their schedule as you were, the friends you make in college soon become your lifeline. College friends could easily mean so much more than any friendships you ever had and were ever expecting. They even become your family long before you figure out where your Tuesday morning English lecture room is.
As I packed up my entire shoe collection, leaving little room for cleaning supplies and planned to move into my freshman dorm, I also threw some anxiety and tears into my suitcase. I was so worried I wouldn’t make friends. I discussed this topic with my mom on several occasions before she drove away, leaving me “alone” in my dorm. After a few weeks, I realized that being uprooted to a totally new environment was the push I needed to make some of the best friends I have today. “Your friends in college are different. You see them in real life. You study together at night and eat breakfast together, and sometime in there they are more like family,” University of Wisconsin-Madison, junior Julia Machgan said.
Maybe it’s the unfamiliar surroundings or the new experiences that come with college that make you cling to these people who were once complete strangers. Perhaps, more often than not, you create this bond because you get to see a whole person. You don’t merely see the fun friend at football games or dressed to the nines for school dances; You see the heart and soul of someone, and most of the time your relationship consists more of sweatpants, too much ramen and Netflix versus expensive meals and adventurous outings.
You see, college friends are the people that take you to the hospital when you break your ankle running to a football game. These people print your homework out for you and wake up early so you can borrow their car to go to class. And, if you’re lucky, these are the people who buy you dinner when your account is bone dry and that financial aid hasn’t dropped yet. In these moments, when we college kids are at our most vulnerability, that you meet the people who quickly become friends and later become the family you need while away at school. “When you’re in high school you look forward to coming home to your family, relaxing and having those people there for you. It’s the same in college, but your friends, your roommates, they become that family for you,” University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Kyle Krueger said. When you are away from everything that you have ever known, surrounding yourself with people that you trust and love is vital. More importantly, surround yourself with people who love you.
These companions in turn, not only become part of your immediate college family, but during visits back to your home town become a part of the family that you left there as well. “Just the fact that we started with hanging out in my dorm room with a bunch of other people and ending up, most recently, going to a family wedding speaks volumes,” Krueger said. As your family welcome those new friends in your life into your childhood home, you begin to realize the role that these friendships play in all of your lives.
Saying goodbye to your mom, dad, siblings and especially Kobe (the family dog) can be hard. Just know that what got me through every year of my college experience were those friends who so quickly turned into the family I constantly missed. Now, coming out of college, I have a family much more dynamic than I ever expected. Because the friends you make from your dorm room common and that math class you dreaded every Tuesday and Thursday could just stick around for life.