I'm your average, never on time, disheveled looking student. I sleep too much, eat more takeout food than I should admit to, I'm always late, and let's face it, I probably drink too much. This lifestyle however, has never really been an issue; in fact, I think I'm quite compatible with this chaotic, yet mind numbing, way of living.
At age 18, it was time for me to head to university, and I found myself travelling alone across the country, hours away from my home and away from everything, and everyone, I had ever known. It's a scary choice to make for a young person. As a young woman, or girl should I say, who had always had someone there to keep an eye on me, to fix things the moment they went wrong, an uneasy sense lingered with me during my journey. It's a very odd feeling, to be excited, scared, sad, and happy all at the same time. It's one of those things you can't really explain, but when you feel it, boy, is it weird.
I consider myself very lucky. I was fortunate enough to be placed into a student flat with an undoubtedly fantastic set of people; a position sadly not everyone gets to be in. Within the first few hours of meeting each other we were nattering away like a group of elderly women in a nursing home. The drinks started flowing and so did the conversation. Although it was over two years ago now, I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Seven of us sitting around a cheap IKEA table in our imperfect yet perfect communal kitchen, each taking it in turns to talk about ourselves, chiming in when you had something in common and lightly mocking one another's bad music taste.
You never expect to become so comfortable with some people so quickly, it's weird how it just happens. We had only know each other a couple of days before the inevitable embarrassing drunken mistakes started happening. Falling around all over the place, taking some of the most hideous photos I have ever seen, crying for god knows what reasons, and getting the odd noise complaint from the other residents. OK... So maybe we weren't ideal to live around sometimes but damn, did we have know a good time. Of course, it wasn't all alcohol related. I think first year was by far the craziest. There were times when we would go to the club about four times a week and we'd still make it to our lectures the next morning; something we certainly cannot do now. Now as third years, we're lucky if we make it out once a week and even if we do, we need a whole day to recover afterwards... To be honest, that's probably our own fault from being so reckless those couple of years prior. If I could go back however, I wouldn't change a thing.
Over here in England we have this thing called "predrinks." It's kind of like a mini party at you or your friends' place before you actually head out to the "proper" party or club. We utilize this time by getting tipsy (or a bit wavey as we like to call it) so you don't have to buy many ridiculously priced drinks when you get to the club. Really, it makes a lot of sense to a student as the price of your night out decreases tenfold. We found that this, however, was a strange concept to many of the international students we befriended. Always intrigued of their thoughts of England and our culture, we would make an effort to chat to any international students we met on our nights out or at our "predrinks." They often responded with a similar sentence—"I didn't realize how much you English people drink." Yikes. It wasn't until about the fifth person, a very stereotypical Russian man, said something along the lines of "Of course in Russia we know how to drink. We usually get friends together and we will sit and drink vodka until morning. You English though, you start throwing up and climbing trees, taking your clothes off, it's a whole new level." This was when we realized that the majority of English students may have a minor drinking problem, but alas, it did not stop us.
Just to give a little background on how my living arrangements and friendships went before I delve into who knows what, I was in a flat of seven to begin with, three boys and four girls, including myself. This all went swimmingly for about two semesters until two of the girls became, what we like to refer to as "snakes," slithering behind everyone's backs trying to manipulate and corrupt. We soon cleared away this infestation when we moved into second year, when myself, the three boys, and remaining girl moved into a house not far away from university. During second year, I can't say we had any problems, except maybe the odd unavoidable argument, but c'est la vie.
The group, although we all liked one another very much, did end up forming little secret cliques without realising in our first week of first year. We had the two girls (cough snakes cough) who would pester one another all night long, spending their time fighting, doing their hair and makeup, and taking selfies for way longer than I think is humanly healthy. One of the boys and the other girl found themselves playing video games together often, flirting with each other without actually realising they were flirting. This gave us a prime opportunity to tease them about secretly "fancying" each other and hassling them about when they were going to start dating; which funnily enough they did actually start doing in second year (I believe they have just celebrated their one year anniversary which is incredibly sweet as they are perfect for one another). This then left me and the other two boys. The Three Musketeers, we called ourselves. Cheesy, I know, but there was never a dull moment when we were together. It feels like I have enough stories to write a novel, so I'll try not to sift too deep or we'll be end up being here all day. One of the boys was a real rascal, a loose cannon some would say, but in the absolute best way. He would drink more alcohol than I even realised was possible and would still be able to run a marathon the next morning. When he wasn't getting us to dare him to do things, (yes, I know, why would you want people to dare you to do weird things. I have no idea, but it provided us with hours of entertainment) he would spend his time making us roar with laughter, telling us jokes, showing us videos, or just being a downright plonker. He's one of the best people I have ever met, but don't tell him I said that. The other boy I now consider to be my best friend. For some reason we just clicked immediately. We're not even that similar really. I'm a huge movie buff, and I don't think he's even heard of The Shining or Pulp Fiction. We have different tastes in music and clothes, and he loves to constantly surround himself with different people—something I am not overly fond of—yet somehow it just works. We spend most of our time making each other laugh, not to mention the constant pestering and mocking (all in good faith of course) at all hours of the day.
There's this strange idea that so many people have, that men and women can't be best friends without there being something else going on. Sometimes, if you're lucky enough, you meet people who you just genuinely enjoy being around. People who you can just have a profoundly good time with without having to slam your body parts together (with the exception of the high five and occasional hug, of course). That's how me and my best friend are. We just love getting together and having a real good laugh. I'm really going to miss him when I leave, I hope he knows that.
So, you're probably wondering why I'm referring to my friends in the past tense, well it's not because we're not friends anymore, but for some reason we ended up splitting up in third year. I still haven't really been able to understand why; we all had such a good time together, and we wanted to carry on living together, so who knows what happened. I know personally I was worried they would want to move out and live with other friends from their course, but this made me more determined to try and keep the group together; who knows, maybe it just had the opposite effect on them. In the end, our sweet couple got a house together with their other friends, the loose cannon, who actually calmed down a bit in second year, moved in with guys on his rugby team, which left me and my best friend to make our decisions. I was the one to bring up the housing chat, not having anyone else really to live with I cautiously asked if he had already made plans. He did mention he had been talking to his course friends about housing but after hearing I had no plans he said that it would be nice if we were to stick together. I do wonder sometimes if he really wanted to live with me again, or if he just felt bad leaving me on my own. Maybe I'll ask him one day and let you know.
In the end, me and my best friend ended up moving in with a few of our mutual friends who we had met in first year. We are one semester into third year now, and I have to admit I really am enjoying living with them, even if I do miss my old housemates. We still meet up, me and my best pals, but it's just not quite the same anymore; it always seems like there is a slight mist of regret in the air when we're together. It doesn't stop us for rambling away like we used to though, and I hope that never changes.
It's a funny thing, reminiscing. I began writing this story with the intention of the end turning sour; for me to explain that I miss my friends and that I can't really be bothered with anything anymore. But I don't know, I've been sat here for the past few hours, it's 4 AM, it's cold, and I'm tired, but all I can think about is how it used to be and how I miss it, but also how glad I am that it all happened. I suppose just because something is over doesn't mean that has to be it, right? I mean, when one door closes another opens. So maybe this year isn't going to be the same, but maybe that's a good thing. Life is all about growing and changing. If something stays the same for too long it just ends up getting boring; and god forbid, if there's one thing I don't want my life to be it's boring. There was this line I heard in The Office US which I think about a lot—“I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.” Man did that hit me hard. The sudden realization that I'm probably in the good old days right now, it just made me miss them even though they're not even over yet! So here it is, a promise to myself—I'm going to make the absolute most of these last few months, make an effort to see people I don't get to see much any more, I'll take more photos and videos of the greatest people I've ever met, especially when we're doing something that's absolutely ridiculous, and I won't take myself too seriously. I'm even going to try get my work done on time and not the day before it's due! I want to try new things and make new friends, go on walks just to try imprint my surroundings into my brain, because who knows if I'll ever be in this town again after I've graduated. I love it here and no, I'm not ready to go, I don't even know why I'm thinking about going yet, I still have six months or so ahead of me. Maybe by the end of it I'll be ready, maybe I won't. Either way I'm going to figure it out, end up where I'm supposed to be, and be with the people I love.
Sometimes, I suppose you just gotta have a little faith in yourself.