Letters from the dorm: it takes work to keep friendships going from across the world

By Hilary Lok, University of Durham, Year 2

Going away to university doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to your friends forever

By Hilary Lok, University of Durham, Year 2 |

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The summer before I began university was a weird mix of nostalgia and excitement. Everyone was holding on to the last bit of high school life as we went on our graduation trips and made plans to hang out.

Even then, things were already changing. After that summer, no matter which university we were going to – or if we weren’t even going to university at all – life would be different.

When I went to the airport to see my friends off – I’d never been to the airport so many times in one month before – each trip was an endless stream of teary goodbyes and heartfelt promises that we’ll definitely, definitely keep in contact no matter what.

That was my summer. Then university started, and the friends I had seen every day in school for almost 10 years were suddenly so far away – sometimes halfway across the world.

In the midst of new faces, new places, and new things, high school suddenly seemed like ancient history. It’s hard to remember to call or message old friends when there are so many new things going on in your life.

But this has made me treasure my friendships a little more. It really puts things into perspective when you have friends who remember to call or Skype or message you when you’re miles away, or in a completely different time zone.

In high school, you’re friends because you’re in the same class and eat lunch at the same table together every day, but it feels completely different to keep that friendship going in university, where you have to make an effort to see or even talk to each other.

For those of you heading into university this year: you’ll definitely find a place to belong in the giant ecosystem that is university life; don’t worry about that! But while you’re busy with your new university experiences, don’t forget about the friends you spent so long getting to know in secondary school.

A simple “what’s up” from an old friend can make you feel so happy. It’s hard, but if you can survive the distance, congratulations, these
friends are the ones you’ll keep for life.

As the old saying goes, “make new friends but keep the old, because one is silver and the other’s gold.”