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Getting To Know You

January 4, 2012 at 10:14 am

Hi! I hope any and all holidays you celebrate were fun and festive. If you’re somewhere in the college application process, I hope it’s going well. And congratulations if you were accepted to Carleton Early Decision!

Classes for our winter term begin today, so people are in a flurry of buying books, greeting long lost friends, and making pretty paltry snow angels. There’s not a lot of snow here (hopefully) yet, but landing on Monday was still pretty cool because at least a lot of the roofs were covered. I very vividly remember coming back in January of freshman year and feeling like I had stepped onto another planet.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships over the past few days. Over break, I saw some of my friends from high school, which was really fun, as was greeting people at Carleton, especially those who just got back from studying abroad. One of the things that struck me as really interesting was how my friendships have evolved since I’ve been at college, and the differences almost inherent in college social life.

In high school, you (usually) don’t get to live with your friends. I started sharing a room for the first time when I was 18, but oddly find it a little hard now to go back to not having someone else’s alarm clock go off five days a week. But even if you don’t live with a roommate, in college you see your friends everywhere. The dining hall, the bathroom: these places that used to be just parts of your house now contain a bunch of other awesome people who are your age.

That being said, I usually had more classes with my friends in high school. Although the more time I’ve been at Carleton, the more frequently I know people in my classes, we sort of end up in classes together from time to time. Don’t get me wrong; I loved having classes with friends in high school and it’s still a really pleasant surprise when someone I’m in a course with someone I know well. It’s also fun to meet people in class, and Carleton definitely fosters that (no, not through passing notes—I meant, like, via group work and the "being nice" thing). The fact that most of my friends aren’t in my classes is great because it leads to a lot of diversity in perspective. So does the fact that we’re not all from the same town. I think some of the best conversations are those formed of both ideas and experience; it seems colleges foster this really well.

I find that I really know my college friends on their own terms. Although there are several sets of siblings at Carleton, when you meet people, you usually don’t know anything about their background or family. I know a lot of my friends at home because our parents or siblings were friends first. One of the really great things that’s happened in the past year or so is I’ve gotten the chance to get to know my college friends families a little bit, and that’s been fantastic. But it’s also definitely exciting to feel like at college you can represent (hopefully) the best of your family while still truly, inherently, being your own person. And friends here definitely become a make-shift family. At college, you eat dinner with your friends every night. Weekend mornings, you’re with your friends. When you’re stressed or sad or upset, it’s your friends that are there.

The really cool thing that seems to happen with college friends and high school friends is a kind of socialization on both ends. I now feel much more comfortable spending a lot of time with my friends at home because I’ve sort of learned how to be with people a lot. And my college friends and I have found that adding family into the mix is really easy, because we know each other really well. It seems that college friendships especially are based on the idea of the person you are and the person you want to be—after that sort of clicks, accepting someone for who they’ve been and where they come from seems pretty obvious.

I’m looking forward to a lot of things this term, from classes to clubs to food to primaries. But probably I’m excited most to share it with other people I really like.

So: Happy 2012! I think it’s going to be a good one.

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