Winter break is a time to catch-up: whether it’s sleep, Netflix, or family time, every college student relishes in the fact that for a brief few weeks, they get to do what they want. One of the biggest catch-ups college students get to play while they are at home is to meet up with old friends. However, hanging out with old high school friends for the first time since separation at the end of summer can be strange at first. Especially for first year students, facing the reality that you and your old friends do not have a lot in common anymore can come as a big, even upsetting, surprise.
For many college students, it is hard to let go of high school friendships and relationships, so winter break offers perfect opportunities to get back in touch with old friends. After hanging out with these old companions you may realize the transition back is not as fluid or simple as you may have believed it would be. Try to go into meeting up with little to no expectations and be okay with the fact things might be awkward at first. You may find that even though you have accumulated so many wonderful experiences during your first semester that you don’t have much to talk about with an old friend. It is important to realize that a friend may be on a different path than you are and it is difficult to relate. Don’t try to make an experience mutual that isn’t. If it doesn’t go as well as you hoped, there’s always spring break to try and catch up again. It may take your friend more time to settle than it took you. Be open to your first reunion not being one hundred percent perfect.
The best advice is to be open to listening to your friends’ new experiences. Try to connect with them based on similarities between your schools. It is better to compare rather than contrast; it’s not a competition over who is having more fun. If a friend is trying to make their campus sound crazier or more fun than you might think or know it to be, don’t say anything and just let them express what they feel. Try to be sensitive over personal matters; tread lightly when asking about their past relationships or new experiences that might not have gone well during the first semester. You may not think your closeness with a friend has changed, but keep in mind that the person himself/herself might have. Be careful bringing up sensitive topics, such as GPAs, labs, and the elite status of universities. Just because you made straight A’s during your first semester doesn’t mean your friend did. Making a friend feel inferior is not a great way to re-break the ice. Ask questions about their dorm life or campus activities they may have joined. It’s a great way to eliminate the potential of bringing up something that might make your friend upset. On the flipside, don’t be afraid to share your experiences as well. It is important to make old friends feel like they aren’t missing out completely on your life. Tell them about moments when you knew you picked the right college and perhaps even throw in some stories about embarrassing freshman mishaps that will help engage your friends.
Don’t forget that just because you are away at college it doesn’t mean that your old friends don’t exist anymore. Things will be very different from how they used to be, but that is life: moving on to new experiences but keeping the old memories that made you who you are close to your heart. It is important to remember how much your high school friends meant to you and those who you can jump into your old routines with almost instantaneously are the ones worth keeping around. People change, but as cliché as it sounds, absence can make the heart grow fonder. You might not know how much you needed your old friends until you see them again.