Sometimes the excitement of a new environment, new people and generally a new life can be overpowering. Its easy to be carried away in the wave of new experiences, so when an inevitable crash comes its completely unexpected and hits you much harder than normal. Speaking to my hall mates, I think the most problem we’ve all been facing is loneliness. Its not as though we aren’t surrounded by friendly people, but when compared to the tight-knit friendships we all have back home or back in high school, the transcient nature of friendships at university is a whole new dynamic takes time to get used to.
2 months of living in halls later, the novelty has essentially worn off. You no longer say ‘hi’ to half your floor mates when you pass them in the kitchen, and the floor dynamic definitely has traces of smaller friendship groups. Quite simply, you can’t be bothered anymore. Hall living is like living in a heightened social atmosphere, its exhausting but you don’t really notice because you’re always there. Working out the socially acceptable level of antisocial behaviour in halls is an art.
Another thing is that you didn’t choose your floor mates, they were randomly assigned and while you have some measure of control over how close friends you want to be with them, you’re kinda stuck with them and this level of daily interaction inevitable leads to friendship of some kind or other. My closest friends at uni are undoubtably those who I also live with, most other people I meet are either casual acquaintances through a society or through my course. We don’t have as much opportunity to share experiences like, clubbing, late night chats and disastrous cooking. I really did wish I was able to make more friends outside of halls, because at least that way I’d feel like we were friends because of common interest and compatibility rather than because of common geography. Such is life.
As someone who prefers to have a few really good friends rather than many ‘sort of’ friends, the social dynamic university is really a challenge, because I rarely get the opportunity to get to know someone well enough to loosen up. To an extent, I think everyone is starting to feel the strain of having the same strained, politely conversational relationship with people and not knowing anymore about someone apart from name, course and country of origin. In high school, you see your friends everyday, without doubt from 9 – 4 everyday, you share classes, teachers and breaks, hence opportunities to bond are abundant. In uni, there is no such certainty, if I meet you today, I may not ever see you again, let alone everyday. In this way, its easy to see how feeling lonely is a distinct possibility.
Amidst this slightly depressing take on hall living, I think that this is a temporary low that will pass as we all adapt to this new social setting. After all everyone always says university is where you make your friends for life. Friends are friends no matter how and why you meet and often the best friends are the ones you never expected to make. At uni, everyone is going through something of their own behind their room doors and they are not obliged to share it with you. As I get used to this new found freedom to choose who I want to be friends with, it seems I sacrifice the ease of making friends the claustrophobic 5 days a week at school provided. I guess you can’t always get what you want.