It's been a full three years now since I finished university. That's 36 months since we packed up our shot glasses, binned all those piles of notes and said a tearful goodbye. It was a hard goodbye for my group, most of us had been together from the very beginning of first year and we were very close. We shared everything, from drunken nights out, to stresses over exams, to boyfriend troubles and across two houses, we even lived together. There was no escape, and yes we annoyed the hell out of each other at times, but there was also a lot of love there and I knew these girls would always have my back.Three years on and I was right to think that, because they still have my back and still mean the world to me. I'm lucky to have such a brilliant, beautiful, fun and smart bunch of girls as my friends and I love that no matter how far life takes us away from each other, we always know where to turn when we are in trouble or need advice. These girls have helped me through some of the hardest times, and have celebrated with me through some of the best - but the fact that they have been there throughout is something that means a lot. When you leave university, particularly when you are scattered across the country, it is hard to keep in touch. You all get jobs, have partners, set up new homes and generally live very separate lives. It takes a certain amount of effort in order to maintain the friendship, and yet at the same time, you all have to be happy to often not speak for months and then catch up loads over a weekend. I love that with these girls, we are all so close that when we see each other after a long time has passed, that feels like we have never parted ways.So why is a friendship forged at university such a different one to those from back home? Well in many ways they are much the same, but the fact that you are thrown in with complete strangers and forced to live together from the start always forges a different kind of intimacy that you often won't have with those from back home. But what is it about these friendships that make them so long-lasting?
- The sheer relief, after all those fears of what your flatmates will be like, of finding someone normal, who doesn't smell and doesn't listen to ridiculous music all night. Often you are all so grateful for finding someone you can relate to and want to be friends with that I think it brings you even closer together. Particularly if you are surrounded by odd, smelly or just plain noisy flatmates.
- It may sound cliché but discovering who you are is a big part of university. You are growing up a lot in a short space of time and the people you do that with do, in their own way, help to mould you as a person. This has a lasting effect and I certainly think I have learnt a lot from my flatmates.
- Life happens, it doesn't just stop while you are at university, and sometimes some not so nice stuff can happen while you are away from the comfort of family and friends. A death in the family, bad grades, illness, boyfriend troubles - it all affects us and who is there to pick up the pieces? These are the ones who will be there to listen, will get you out and about again, or offer advice.
- The lifestyle is a huge part of university - I'm talking nights out, student events, pub nights, clubs and societies, the whole lot. The group you bond with are often ones you end up doing a lot with and it means these friends end up being a huge part of your life. It also means making a lot of memories together and who can resist catching up on old times?
- Coping with the workload is harder for some, but we all feel the stresses of coursework and dissertations at some point. Pulling those all-nighters in the library, panicking the night before an exam, getting together for a last minute revision session are all big parts of your learning and sometimes your flatmates may also double up as course buddies. This can be great because you will automatically have someone there you can ask advice and for help.
Of course it isn't all sunshine and roses for everyone, and I know a few people who have hated the "friends" they made in first year. I know of times when people have struggled to make friends because of circumstances or things have turned and they've found themselves alone. It is horrible when things like this happen, and knowing these stories makes me all the more grateful that I met such a fantastic bunch of like-minded girls. Yes we all have our similarities, and that is what brought us together, but we also have our differences and I think that is what has made this a lasting friendship. Last weekend, we had our most recent reunion and once again it was like no time had passed. A weekend spent in Camden, where one of the girls is now living, wandering around the market, sitting on a roof terrace and then dancing the night away with plenty of cocktails. Just what we all needed - plenty of chance to catch up on all the amazing things everyone is doing and enough time to plan another meet-up.
Why do you think you have such long-lasting friendships with those you meet at university? And do you still meet up with your pals from uni or have you guys drifted apart?