By Gabriella Mansell
Moving away from home to university is undoubtedly one of the most exciting experiences you will have encountered so far. However, this isn’t to say it doesn’t come without challenges. Even before leaving, you have to say teary goodbyes to your group of home friends. One by one you all begin to depart for uni, promising you will all stay in contact. Immediately upon arrival, you also have to face an abundance of new challenges, such as settling in to your new life, living away from home, meeting the strangers you’re going to be living with for the next year and learning how to cook so you don’t end up living on baked beans and pasta for an entire year.
Once settled, among grappling with your course workload and newfound social life you will have hopefully have made copious amounts of new friends throughout Freshers week. From the course mate you hooked up with on the second night of term to those flat mates whom, after several extremely intoxicated nights at The Lash, you feel you have known forever. As the initial excitement of Freshers begins to dwindle and the whole process of going to lectures and meeting new people starts to feel a little more mundane, you begin to think about your home friends. You wonder how they’re getting on with their new lives and if they’ve settled in as well. You may also worry if they’ve forgotten you exist altogether. However, a quick Whatsapp to your group chat or a Skype call can confirm that your old friends similarly are loving their new life at uni, but are also missing you. This is where you will face one of the biggest challenges of uni so far; finding the tenuous balance between your new exciting uni friends and the familiar but loveable ones of old.
Here are three useful tips that I believe will help you balance your social life, enabling you to make new friendships at university whilst retaining old ones and equally maintaining a good relationship with your family.
During your time at university, particularly first year it is easy to get caught up in the madness of everyday life, juggling your course, new friends and society activities As a result,you may forget to make time to speak to your friends from home and your family. The crucial aspect of maintaining a balance is to make the effort. This does not mean you have to visit home every other weekend as this can jeopardise your newfound friendships at uni and prevent you from developing further relationships with others. It does require however, just the occasional call to friends and family (particularly your mum- she misses you!) or an arranged visit to one of your friends at their uni. This won’t take too much of your time but will allow you to not only stay in contact with your home friends but also socialise with your uni friends too.
Secondly it is sometimes important to compromise; after all you cannot please everyone at once. After joining university you will generally have a much larger circle of friends than you did before. Subsequently, this denotes that you will more than likely have a busier social calendar, meaning some events are bound to clash and you cannot be in two places at once. This requires letting either your home friends or uni friends down occasionally, which isn’t a problem as long as you make it up to them another time and don’t always neglect the same people. True friends will understand if you’re busy and won’t be offended.
Conversely another solution, which admittedly doesn’t always work but can be very beneficial to balancing both sets of friends, is to introduce groups of friends to each other. There isn’t always the greatest opportunity for this, but if you have a birthday at home for example, which you are able to invite your uni friends to or vice versa make sure you include and introduce everyone. Usually, since they have you in common, everyone will get along fine and its just an easier means for not only balancing certain friendships but combining them so you can see more of people.
Although it’s a lot of work maintaining all of these friendships, it gives you an incredible social life. Remember it’s the the good times with lovely people you remember so make your memories special.