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Upperclassmen Friends

January 25th, 2022

So obviously, a lot of college as freshmen feels extremely frenetic and over-stimulating and just kind of loud. And sometimes that can be fun, but—let's be honest here—sometimes it is extremely sucky. Remember O-week? I hated that. It felt like I didn't have a home base and my life was just wandering around on some lawns literally searching for people to be friends with.  

And I think I am particularly susceptible to this. I am a college student whose dream scenario is settling down as early as possible in a cozy suburb, preferably taking up gardening and perhaps learning to knit. Freshman life at Tufts is a far cry from that.

So I'm writing this tonight because I feel happy to have found a way around that disparity: non-freshmen friends. And I'll be level with ya: these are mock trial people who I have forced into being my friends. Some of them are juniors and seniors and they have houses.

That means instead of sending my packages to the mailroom, I can send them to those houses and pick them up there. And when I do I can pop in and catch up with my friends, even get a cup of tea. It means that on the super bowl, I get to go watch the game in a living room. When my roommates were moving into my room last Sunday and I needed to get on a zoom call for a mock meeting, it meant I could go to someone's house and join from there. These people have resources that I want, and the interesting dynamic I've noticed is that they are extremely happy to give them out. Possibly because they too felt the austerity of being freshmen, these older grades want to share the cozy environment they've made for themselves.

And it's definitely more than just the mock people. Abby, an LHS kid at Tufts, has a junior friend from theater camp here and sometimes I run into them. Abby sometimes goes to their house to eat and relax too.

So there's that: the concrete resources that freshmen can't have themselves. But I think there's also something special about friendship with older students. Perhaps because they've been here longer, perhaps because they feel more comfortable at Tufts than we do now, it's easier to be friends with them. Meeting other freshmen has always felt forced, carrying a strange awkwardness that acknowledges we both are new here and our freshmen-ness puts our dynamic in a fixed social hierarchy. We are the young kids around here; we are immature and we have no idea what we're doing. Something can feel trivializing about that pathology.

But meeting older people feels refreshingly normal. It's easier to be friends without the self-consciousness of not knowing what being friends at college necessarily looks like. They feel less influenced by the environment.

Last night after mock practice, a sophomore pal texted me to come over to Wren Hall for tea and a chat (I was having a rough 24 hours). It's the sort of thing I can't imagine a freshman would ever think to do—invite someone into their home at 11pm. And it was just the thing I needed.

I am aware that I am in a program that gives me a lot of access to older grades at college and most freshmen don't have that. All I can say is that I think—for those of us that wish there was a little more domestic tranquility in the college experience— it gets a lot better.