Student Relationships; Friends, Lovers, Foes..

New friends, old friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, flatmates, bad mates, there will never be a dull moment while you’re at Uni. You’re 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 won’t ever be the same again.

Don’t feel bad about it, as your interests change you naturally end up surrounded by the people you ‘click’ 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; you’ll 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 they’re 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 it’s only time that will make things better. It’s 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. Don’t feel any regrets over making the choice to further your education and get out into the great wide world. Meeting people is easy

If you’re feeling homesick and missing your friends from home, don’t forget they’re 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 ‘homely’ to go back to.

Keeping busy and meeting new people is the best way to get over any homesickness, and don’t forget your social life doesn’t 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 you’re into dancing look for flamenco and lindy-hop lessons, which are growing in popularity amongst London’s trendy young things.

- Evening or part time classes could be interesting if you’re 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!
Don’t give in to peer pressure

Basically, if you’re friends are pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to, these people aren’t really your friends. Peer pressure usually revolves around quite challenging issues: drugs, shoplifting, sex, or cheating during exams. Use your instinct, if something doesn’t feel right or you don’t want to do it, don’t. 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. You’ve 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 people’s friendships. Sometimes it’s actually easier to live with people with whom you have no previous attachment, as there’s none of the ‘I’m short of cash, can you pay the bill this time and I’ll give you the money later?’ scenarios, and boundaries in terms of space are easier to stick to. On the other hand it’s nice to live with friends, you get to hang out in the evenings plus you naturally feel more comfortable with people you know.

It’s best to be very open from the beginning, if you don’t 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 they’ve left two weeks worth of dirty dishes in the sink yet again, give them an ultimatum, they either buck up their ideas or it’s time for them to move.

If you do realize you’re totally incompatible and it’s 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 ‘how often would you clean…?’ rather than ‘are you a tidy person?’

Written by Leila Hawkins

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