One of the best things about a small Christian school like Erskine is that the opportunity to get to know your classmates really well and make a lot of close friends. If you have even read half of one of my blog posts in your pasts, you already know this, but I am saying it again!
Before I came to college I had this idea that I would simply waltz into the dorm on the first day, arrange my dorm perfectly within a matter of minutes, and then suddenly be surrounded be hordes of close friends who wanted to know everything about me. While that somewhat fairy tale like dream is obviously quite unrealistic, it is not as far off from the truth of my first day at Erskine. No more than 5 minutes after pulling up in front of the freshmen dorms students approached the cart to help me carry all of my stuff inside, setting everything up did not take THAT long, and I did meet several new friends on that first day!
I am pretty sure that everyone reading this is familiar with the concept of soiree at Erskine: on the first night you move in the Student Christian Association hosts a big dance. All of the girls dress up and are randomly assigned a date who escorts them to dinner and (ideally) to the dance. It is a somewhat awkward affair, but for the most part a fun evening with a lot of introductions and new friends! It was on the first night that I met one of my future best friends at Erskine: I saw Tiffany across the room completely dressed up and was shocked that someone my age could be so beautiful! 🙂
One of the main things I have learned at Erskine, however, is that having friends is not always going to be a walk in the park on a sunny day with a fresh (non dripping, of course) ice cream cone. In high school friendships are a little easier because, for the most part, they are all by choice. You hang out when you want, where you want, for as long as you want and then you get tired and go home. In college, you share a dorm with a roommate and your college friends may live just down the hall from you. Perceived control goes straight of the window within the first week of your arrival!
For the first few weeks, or even months, everything is magical. Gone are the lonely nights of old when you had nothing to do! Vanished are those times when you wish you had a friend to talk to! All you have to do is open up your hall door and walk around to see if Heather or Lolly wants to hang out. Your new friends are fun, hilarious, and spontaneous! You have never felt so happy, and you feel as if you could love of your new friends for the rest of your life.
And then, unexpectedly, one of your friends does something crazy. Another says something to you cannot believe that anyone would ever say! Still another decides to ignore you when you need help, to misunderstand what you are trying to say, to do something you think no one in their right mind would ever do! A lot of this happens because of how you were all raised, in your parents’ household you were never allowed to text while someone was talking to you and then one of your friends starts texting the entire time you are trying to talk to them! You start to wonder what kind of barn that they might have been raised in!
Rest assured most of your friends probably were not raised in barns. What many college students experience is that the people they meet at college, even their closest friends, were not raised with exactly the same set of standards and beliefs. Everyone is different, a unique person with all of their own thoughts and ideas about how things ought to be. That was certainly something I had to realize! Many of my closest friends at college are extremely different people than myself and sometimes wholly unexplainable!
The good thing about all of this is that through I have learned how to love better. It is easy to love your friends when you are spending a day in Greenville together, talking and laughing about all of your inside jokes! Especially if you do have that fresh ice cream cone! 🙂 It’s a little more difficult when it is late at night and your roommate is having a movie date when you just want to go to bed! But learning to communicate, to talk about your similarities and differences, to open and share yourself with other people even when you realize they are not perfect is what makes the college experience all the more rewarding!