Student Relationships; Friends, Lovers, Foes..

New friends, old friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, flatmates, bad mates, there will never be a dull moment while youíre at Uni. Youíre not alone, this

Friendships move on

Moving away from your hometown to go to University means the opportunity to make new friends, have new adventures and take up new activities, however inevitably you will also be leaving people behind. This is challenging for friendships, and often factors like distance, new people that take up all of your time, and simply developing new interests mean things wonít ever be the same again.

Donít feel bad about it, as your interests change you naturally end up surrounded by the people you Ďclickí with best at the time. Plus you will always be able to see your old friends when you go back home.

Breaking up is hard to do

Starting Uni may bring with it a tough decision, do you end the relationship you are in or do you do the long distance thing? Sadly long distance relationships only work in a handful of cases; youíll need a great degree of honesty and openness, and have enough patience to really want to make it work. Your new life will have a knock on effect; how much time can you dedicate to your partner if theyíre not in the same city as you? If you do go down this route, talk on the phone and try to visit each other as much as possible.

If on the other hand one of you realizes the relationship has come to an end, then really itís only time that will make things better. Itís not the end of the world despite how it may feel, and the human race has been getting in and out of relationships since the dawn of time. Donít feel any regrets over making the choice to further your education and get out into the great wide world. Meeting people is easy

If youíre feeling homesick and missing your friends from home, donít forget theyíre only a phone call away, and you can see them in the holidays. If you have any favourite pictures, toys, ornaments, etc put them up in your room. It makes the world of difference to have somewhere Ďhomelyí to go back to.

Keeping busy and meeting new people is the best way to get over any homesickness, and donít forget your social life doesnít have to revolve solely around university! There are groups, events and evening classes to take part in if you wish to broaden your social network.

- Sporty people might want to check out local gyms and look for yoga classes, aerobics, or even climbing. If youíre into dancing look for flamenco and lindy-hop lessons, which are growing in popularity amongst Londonís trendy young things.

- Evening or part time classes could be interesting if youíre not sick of the sight of a classroom by the end of the day. Perhaps a language course, cookery, art or creative writing classes, there is much to choose from. Look at the prospectuses for City Lit, City University and Birkbeck.

- For culture vultures, there are talks in bookshops and art galleries where people always get chatting after the event, usually over a free glass of vino. Socialist bookshop Bookmarks holds events most weeks (with a leftist slant) and Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street plays host to reputable writers. Also check what the Tate, the Southbank Centre and the ICA have on offer.

- Be socially active. Go to parties and to the pub with your classmates. You may meet friends of friends, who may end up introducing you to other people. Most of all, have fun!
Donít give in to peer pressure

Basically, if youíre friends are pressuring you into doing something you donít want to, these people arenít really your friends. Peer pressure usually revolves around quite challenging issues: drugs, shoplifting, sex, or cheating during exams. Use your instinct, if something doesnít feel right or you donít want to do it, donít. If necessary lie or make up an excuse to get out of it.

It may be easier said than done, but be confident in your opinions. Youíve successfully got into university, you may be living on your own and fending for yourself now; these are achievements to be proud of.

Flatmates from hell

Living with flatmates can be a real test for peopleís friendships. Sometimes itís actually easier to live with people with whom you have no previous attachment, as thereís none of the ĎIím short of cash, can you pay the bill this time and Iíll give you the money later?í scenarios, and boundaries in terms of space are easier to stick to. On the other hand itís nice to live with friends, you get to hang out in the evenings plus you naturally feel more comfortable with people you know.

Itís best to be very open from the beginning, if you donít want people to smoke indoors, or you all have different timetables which might be disruptive then make this clear from the start. Decide on a system to pay the bills in the most hassle-free way, and devise a rota so that everyone takes it in turns to clean. Most disputes arise from messiness and not contributing to household chores, get everything sorted early on. If despite your best intentions you do end up wanting to slap your flatmates because theyíve left two weeks worth of dirty dishes in the sink yet again, give them an ultimatum, they either buck up their ideas or itís time for them to move.

If you do realize youíre totally incompatible and itís really not working out then you might have to consider the drastic options of moving or asking them to leave. If you choose the latter and need to find a replacement, be very specific when interviewing people by asking them very direct questions about their habits, for example Ďhow often would you cleanÖ?í rather than Ďare you a tidy person?í

Written by Leila Hawkins

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