First Semester Friends

I dedicate this to my first semester friends:

  • Lauren Polt

  • Liz Carpenter

  • Stephanie Williams

  • Julie Lewis

Love y'all dearly!!!

So wtf is a first semester friend?

It's a phrase I coined to describe what happens when you physically move away from one community and join another.  This could be from home to college (where the term came from), or from city to city.  Or organization to organization.  Or even neighborhood to neighborhood.

We are always on the search to feel secure, comfortable, and/or discover our relation to wherever it is we are.  We do this by making first semester friends.  These are people with whom you have some interests, enough to enjoy each other's company sometimes, but it may not be people that you feel you could relate deeply to.  So, as often happens, after a few months, or a semester as it were, you start to branch out and meet more people and eventually, you meet people that share even more in common with you.  Slowly, but surely, your first semester friends start to fade into the background.  You meet your new friends, start to make tight bonds with these new friends, and make the decision how often to visit your first semester friends.

Think of it this way:  you've been thrown in a desert, but you consider yourself a forest-dweller.  While in the desert, you meet a plains-dweller, a jungle-dweller, and a swamp-dweller, among others (mountain-dweller, beach-dweller, cliff-dweller, etc.).  You immediately gravitate toward these 3 dwellers who, like you, also like green.  So you  throw up some tents together and hang out when you have time.  But when you're not together, each of you looks for more people like yourselves.  Eventually, you'll find other forest-dwellers.  This is not to say that your plains, swamp, and jungle-dwelling friends are unpleasant--it is just a place you don't prefer to reside.  And as such, you move on to start planting roots in a forest.

While I have labeled these friends as "first semester friends," it's more often the case that once you leave college, where you essentially were served friends on a platter, it takes significantly longer than 4 months to find your forest.  There are a lot more forests to choose from.  And often, what looked like a forest turned out to be a jungle or a swamp.  But don't get discouraged.  I'm writing this to let you know it's normal.  It took me some 4 years to find my closest friends in New York City.  But trust me, it was well worth the wait.  I LOVE my friends here.

"How do I speed up the process?  I feel so alone in my new place."

Here's what I learned that may help you speed your process along:

  • Join groups and organizations that you have common interests with.

  • Make an effort to say hello to one new person each time you're at this new place.

  • Keep your eyes open for every time you go to work. You may find your new friend there.

  • Online dating is not so bad anymore. It's 2010, people! Just be safe and meet in a public place first.

  • Online friending: now you have a reason to choose "looking for friendship" on a dating site.

  • Take a class that's of interest to you.

  • Volunteer for something.

  • Work out at the gym.

What happened with your first semester friends?

Surprisingly for us, our group of first semester friends were mostly forest-dwellers, or at least forest-dweller friendly, so we've maintained contact throughout the years.  In fact, Lauren later became my first roommate in New York City!  I was very blessed with my first semester friends.