INVESTIGATING THE FRIENDSHIPS WE MAKE IN UNIVERSITY

INVESTIGATING THE FRIENDSHIPS WE MAKE IN UNIVERSITY

Close to no one from my high school went to Queen’s. I moved to Kinston with nothing but hope I could find someone who could truly appreciate the romantic comedy genre  and understand my references to Harry Potter

Shortly after settling in, I joined a friend group which was composed of people who all went to the same high school together— some even went to middle school and elementary school together. It baffled me. I couldn’t imagine going to university with the same people who sat beside me in grade 11 math class, or saw me trip onstage in the 10th grade musical. However, the chemistry between each of them was sensational. Their laughter fills the room when talking about an old English teacher. They can recite old school cheers like prayers. They move completely in sync. 

This  wasn’t the case for me. I was an outsider carefully calculating my chance to be received with open arms. I wondered if these friendships worked because of familiarity, or comfort? The opposite of this situation is watching two random people meet for the first time. It was special getting to see two strangers slowly trust each other more each day. 

I set on a mission to determine what creates friendships in university. Is it a common hobby? Shared memories? Random chance? I wanted to interview  two different groups to find this out. One group was people who were friends in high school and continued to be close  in university. The other group were strangers who met in university and are close friends now. 

My first interview was with Emma, Sarah, and Maryn. I met Emma first early on in frosh week of first year. Emma and I clicked and I couldn’t get enough of her. Her wild spirit and along-for-the-ride approach to life was captivating. I didn’t think It could get better until soon enough I met Sarah and Maryn. Sarah’s supportive and loyal composure, paired with Maryn’s optimistic attitude match Emma’s charm. Together the trio took on Kingston, just like they did with their hometown once before. 

[Emma, Sarah, Maryn]

Where, when, and how did you all meet?

Sarah: I met Maryn in grade 9 art class.

Emma: I’ve known Maryn since junior kindergarten. I can’t really pinpoint the exact meeting day.

Maryn: Probably in the yard.

Emma: Probably on the play structure. 

Sarah: Then me and Emma met in grade 12. 

Maryn: We were sort of in like three different friend groups, but then me and Emma’s merged in grade 11 when I started dating a friend in Emma’s friend group. Sar-

Sarah: had my own friend group, but then my best friend was also in their friend group and she brought me in a little bit. 

How much time do you guys spend together?

Maryn: Like all down time.

Emma: When we’re not doing any work we’re together. 

Maryn: we’re all in different programs so we’re never in class together. Like we all walk and have different schedules.

Sarah: Probably like at least 5 hours a day we’re together. 

What are some of your shared interests?

Sarah: Watching shows… watching Vampire Diaries. 

Emma: Love Island.

Maryn: Same type of TV.

Sarah: Cooking dinner but that doesn’t really include Emma.

Emma: I like watching them cook dinner.

Maryn: A lot of daily things.

Emma: Yeah and we have a lot of same sense of humor I would say is a big thing.

When it comes to joining clubs, teams, or picking elective classes, are you more likely to pick them up with a friend or individually? 

Maryn: If I were to join an intramural team, which I would never do, I would bring them with me.

Emma: I did join one for frisbee but they weren’t there.

Maryn: I feel like if we’re doing a fun thing we’re already doing it together. 

Sarah: It goes with how we kind of do everything together. Everytime I go to the library I ask if you want to come.

Do you overall think your friend group now is more diverse now then it was a few years ago? (diverse background, knowledge, interests)

Emma: No.

Mayrn: No.

Sarah: Definitely not.

Maryn: I would say I had more friends in grade ten or eleven then now.

Emma: I would say the same.

Maryn: And I think it’s fine because I think I’m finding out who I actually like. 

Emma: I’ve had more friends but I’ve definitely never been closer with other people than with these two. So, quality over quantity. 

Do you still think about high school a lot?

Maryn: I feel like I’m forced to sometimes. Because I live with two people from highschool and I’m dating my high school boyfriend. So in a lot of conversations, high school will randomly come up.

Emma: I feel like considering we all went to the same high school, we don’t talk about it as much as other people would

Maryn: True. Like we don’t have to explain things, but sometime it just inevitably comes up 

Emma: Yeah I’ll be like, I wonder what [REDACTED] is doing right now? And we all conveniently know him.

Maryn: I literally thought about it the other day, and I was thinking about one of my best friends and she had a really bad end of high school experience, and like hates everyone who went to her high school.

Sarah: I actually don’t think about high school itself, but I think about my high school friends. Like my other friends don’t really talk to them [Emma and Maryn].

Emma: Yeah, Sarah did a really good job about staying in contact with people, I didn’t really. So it doesn’t come up as much compared to Sarah.

Maryn: I also don’t care what I think about high school. I’m quite neutral about it.

Emma: Yeah, When I do think about high school I think good things 

Maryn: Those same people are still very important to me so I still think about it

Emma: Amen sister!

Maryn: What I was saying about my friend is that she probably never thinks about high school, or even wants to.

What is a moment when you felt, “these are my friends in this chapter of my life” ?

Emma: I think it really hit me when we all moved into a house together this year. You know? Obviously we hung out in high school, but not to this extent when we’re together allll the time. 

Maryn: For me it was also whenever we hung out back home. It’s just the most natural thing. It’s not just my friends from high school, they’re also my friends at university. 

Sarah: Ummm, mine was probably in the summer yeah, it’s like what we do, this is normal. 

How do the relationships you made in university compare and contrast to the ones you felt in high school?

Emma: That’s like an essay question. I think now in my friendships I’m much more comfortable. I think in high school I would think about what I would say, like two seconds before I would say it. Just because certain people I was around freaked me out a lot. Now I’m much more comfortable and I don’t guard myself.

Sarah: It’s also way less drama.

Emma: Oh my God yeah.

Sarah: Because everyone is more mature.

Do you find it easier to talk to new friends you’ve made here, or older friends from high school?

Maryn: Definitely old friends.

Emma: Oh, new friends.

Maryn: Like comparing talking to Emma and Sarah then friends I made in residence, it’s just way easier talking to Emma and Sarah. Maybe because new friends don’t know me as well? Once you’re so close with someone you can just say whatever and it makes sense.

Emma: I also feel like when talking to someone from high school you can always revert back to those shared experiences. You don’t really have to worry about what you’re gonna say. Just be like “remember that one teacher” and they’re like “oh yeah”. Boom.

What’s maybe a funny story or a positive shared memory you can call upon right now?

Maryn: Let’s think of a good one.

Sarah: We have good options… cat incident? But I feel like there’s funnier ones. Door being left open incident?

Maryn: That’s not funny.

Emma: That was a threat to safety.

Sarah: Emma left the door open. Like not unlocked, open.

Emma: I was home and they were out. I went to go unlock it for them before going to bed and then they came home and the door was wide open.

Maryn: It’s because our door is finicky sometimes. It can bounce open. What I was gonna say was, a few Saturdays ago we went to Walmart. We got paint and Christmas decorations. 

Emma: Yeah that was a good day. We watched Love Island, painted, and put up the Christmas tree with ornaments. 

My next interview is with Maddy and Rachel. I was there the first time Maddy and Rachel met last year. At the time, I didn’t know I was witnessing the birth of the dictionary example of  ‘friendship’. Maddy’s ability to understand anyone’s feelings team up with Rachel’s intuitive care for others. Along with supporting each other, their compassionate relationship also dominates any other opponent in pong… watch out!

 

Maddy and Rachel

Where, when, and how did you all meet?

Rachel: This is like when you do a ouija board. It’s Rachel and Maddy here, if anyone else is here, make your presence known. 

Maddy: It would have been November last year. Though my ex boyfriend.

Rachel: Probably at my house. Probably a Friday night. I wonder because the first time we were introduced, you were just your ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend. It was super early on.

How much time do you guys spend together?

Maddy: Oh my gosh

Rachel: Like a good 5 hours

Maddy: At least.

Rachel: We also text about class and assignments too. 

What are some of your shared interests?

Maddy: Hockey and watching basketball. 

Rachel: Working, we both have part-time jobs.

Maddy: Definitely our passion to work.

Rachel: I feel like we also think the same. Especially about a lot of similar life goals; and we’re in the same program.

Maddy: Also values like school comes first.

When it comes to joining clubs, teams, or picking elective classes, are you more likely to pick them up with a friend or individually? 

Maddy: with a friend

Rachel: We’ve done intramurals together.

Maddy: We WON intramurals 

Rachel: We basically have all of our classes together this semester.

Maddy: Even if we didn’t know each other we would still be in the same classes. It worked out that we’re friends so it’s nice,

Rachel: Yeah, like some of our electives we chose based on our common interests. But like with intramural teams, since Maddy is my friend we chose them together.

Maddy: yeah a sport we both would think is fun. 

Do you overall think your friend group now is more diverse now then it was a few years ago? (diverse background, knowledge, interests)

Rachel: Yes in the sense my friends now aren’t all from the same six streets in our home town. Also it’s interesting when we talk about our upbringing, we have super similar childhoods, even though she [Maddy] grew up in a whole different city than me. And our family dynamics are similar. 

Maddy: I think over high school and the pandemic my relationships got smaller. I say now I have deeper relationships with fewer people in my life. 

Rachel: And I like in high school you had a friend group, Because of that you weren’t besties with everyone. Where now, you make the effort to go to someone’s house and see them, and because you’re making that effort, you don’t have time to see a group of ten people you’re not really close with. 

Maddy: I think that was part of the pandemic too. Like hanging out with just six people, because that’s all you can legally have.

Rachel: Yeah and who you would choose to Facetime when in quarantine. The people you would text and it wouldn’t be awkward. Also, no beef at all, but there were a lot of people who left my life pretty quickly, and we’re all good, it’s not a big deal. We just didn’t have enough in common to desire to keep in touch.

Maddy: I agree. 

Do you still think about high school a lot?

Maddy: No.

Rachel: No. With the people I’m still in contact with, I don’t think about what we did but what we do now. 

Maddy: Same

Rachel: I think a lot about how I used to go to six classes a day and go home and do a sport. And now I have a day with three classes and I come home and have to take a nap. I’m violently exhausted. I think about my lifestyle but I don’t reminisce. 

Maddy: I mean my graduating class was only like twenty three people— it was tiny. We all went separate ways. 

Are any of you still in contact with your friends from high school?

Rachel: The only people I talk to from high school are my roommates in first year. 

Maddy: I had a lot of friends who were in grades older than me and they’re the only people I visit when I’m back home. I also think it has to do with covid interrupting the end of our year, and never having a proper goodbye. 

Rachel: I also think your world opens up a bit and you really get to choose your friends. Like still in our high school people knew each other since elementary school and those were the friend groups. There wasn’t a lot of intermixing for the most part. But now, there’s people from everywhere and you choose who you want to spend your time with. 

What is a moment when you felt “these are my friends in this chapter of my life”

Maddy: For me I think it came in stages. Like there wasn’t a singular moment.

Rachel: I think it’s a lot of time when we’re hanging out and watching the Leafs on TV. Good wholesome fun.

Maddy: I think for me last year I didn’t live with people I really know. But Rachel always included me in weekend plans or trivia night. It felt nice to be included into a tight knit group of people. 

Rachel: It can also be really hard to be a solo person coming into a group of somewhat established friends. The timing was really great and we had open mindsets. 

How do the relationships you made in university compare and contrast to the ones you felt in high school?

Maddy: It’s definitely more mature. Like when something happens you just talk about it. 

Rachel: No ‘he said she said’.

Maddy: Not that we really have problems. We’re also both good at communicating

Rachel: Also the process of growing up and leaving home, we do little things to look out for each other. We’re each other’s family here and it’s different from high school. Back then, if someone was upset you would just tell them to talk to their parents type thing. They go home at the end of the day, but that doesn’t really exist here. 

Maddy: It’s like a level below family and above friends. 

Do you find it easier to talk to new friends you’ve made here, or older friends from high school? Do you find yourself re-introducing context when referencing past events? 

Rachel: New friends here are easier to talk to. 

Maddy: Yeah. My one best friend in high school we haven’t talked in a year. We both went in different paths. 

Rachel: Like when we reference things in our past, we include context descriptions and it helps you understand the narrative you’re telling. It makes you realize if you’re villainizing someone. 

What is a weakness or a conflict you have faced, and how or did you even overcome it?

Maddy: I think for me the one thing was when me and my boyfriend broke up. In the beginning it was hard to see Rachel and other people who still have access to him. Like [Rachel] is dating one of his housemates, so I fully understood, it was just difficult to adjust to in the beginning.

Rachel: A negative reminder sorta.

Maddy: Well I wasn’t mad or upset, but it was just every time I saw you guys I thought of him. And that took me some time to get out. 

Rachel: For me it was when you guys broke up during a busy weekend and it was hard to see you. It was a bit awkward to reach out. There was also the factor I’ve known him before I knew you, but we’re adults and I still want you to be my friend. Not just walk away. But we talked. 

Maddy: For me it also felt like a moment where our friendship went to a different level. Before that I still kind of thought we’re friends through someone else, instead of they’re my friends. And since then I’m still hanging out and friends with all the same people, there weren’t any dramatic endings. 

What’s maybe a funny story or a positive shared memory you can call upon right now?

Rachel: It was when we were walking to a tutorial Thursday night. Maddy choked on baby carrots. They started coming out of her nose.

Maddy: Yep.

Rachel: Ferociously.

Maddy: I was in pain. They went up my sinus. 

Rachel: And we were last and she was putting on her mask but sneezing carrot chunks. 

Maddy: It was so bad. 

After concluding these interviews I wasn’t really any closer to figuring out what exactly was bringing people together. Friendships are intimate between each other, and the reason they work is undefinable. All I truly understood was there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about making friends in university. The greater realization I had was, the right friendships happen in the moments they need to. When Emma, Maryn, and Sarah met, they noticed they were holding onto something special. They bring out the best in each other and function seamlessly. Rachel and Maddy met when they needed each other most. They’ve continued to hold each other in tough times and cheer the loudest when things are great. When getting to university, excitement and stress grab each of our hands and drag us through campus. No one really knows what they’re doing, and the only thing which matters is support. People sticking together and making the most sense of it. The friends someone makes at university complement the punctuation of the story they’re writing. 

HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: ADELE GILANI
AUTHOR: KATARINA BOJIC

 

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