The first few weeks of freshman year are a rush: to unpack, to settle into classes, to cozy up to professors, to become part of all of the organizations that Hopkins has to offer. And the school itself proves a huge help to that rush. A lot of it just comes naturally. The traits that make you a good student are easily adapted and applied to the ~college experience~. You know how to take good notes, do your homework, and make a stellar first impression on a professor.
But there’s one thing that’s going to be scary and foreign, no matter what university becomes your alma mater: making friends.
“Just be yourself!” say the adults in your life, from their lofty position of well-adjusted glory. They’ve paid their dues, made their friends, and they have the vintage wedding photos to prove it. It’s also worth noting, nosy Aunt So-And-So, that I am a human bag of neuroses with sweaty hands and a tendency to nervously over-share. Being myself seems a bold move. In the days before college, you’re forced to ask yourself a lot of the tough questions. How long do I wait before I reveal that I don’t understand football? Before I start belting show-tunes in the harsh, judgmental light of day? Before I show them that Budweiser Clydesdale commercial that makes me weep every. Single. Time?!
Okay, so maybe making friends isn’t as intense and existential-crisis-inducing as I’m making it out to be. Still, everyone feels the pressure. It’s like the clock starts ticking after move-in day, and there’s this great rush to insta-connect and find your people. There’s nothing scarier than looking around and seeing everyone jumping around and hugging one another like they’ve been besties since birth.
If I just described you’re greatest pre-frosh fear, fret not. This is by no means the norm. There’s a joke at Hopkins about how you’ll never see the first people you meet at Hopkins—your “Orientation Friends”—again after that first weekend. Meaningful connections always take time to develop—even in the pressure cooker that is college living. There are thousands of opportunities, from day one until graduation, to make friends across all dorms, majors, and clubs.
Maybe this is triggering a “no duh” moment for most of you, but it’s a side of the Hopkins experience I feel obligated to share with the class of 2020 (holy moly do I feel ancient). Looking through some of my past blog posts (searching for writing samples, internship apps are rough), I realize that I paint a pretty unrealistic picture of college friend-making. I gush about meeting my three friend-soulmates on the second day of orientation, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have to put a lot of time and energy into growing our little friendship seedlings into big, beautiful trees! That was weird, but you get it.
And it doesn’t have to all go down your freshman year either. Even yours truly, a crotchety old junior, makes new friends with each semester. This feels particularly timely, because two of the lovely new friends I made this fall, Ali and Victoria, are already leaving me for the greener pastures of real life. We grew close in the face of great adversity—a monumental International Marketing project that nearly ended us all during finals period. (We actually had a fantastic time marketing Cinnamon Toast Crunch to mothers and children in Spain, but daaaang that paper was long. It had 400+ endnotes. Take a minute to let that sink in.)
By the day of the final presentation, our little dream team had clocked like fifty hours together. These girls opened their hearts, home, and refrigerator to me, and I shall be forever grateful. Ali herself came up with this blog idea specifically because of the college myth that you don’t make friends after freshman year. Spoiler alert: You do! You really do. I, along literally everyone else, am living proof. So stress about which classes to take or which shoes to leave behind (none, if you can help it). Friends just kind of…happen. Sometimes when you least expect it.