Opinions, Column

Housing and Finding Friendship

Freshman year at Boston College, among other things, is about housing. Are you on Newton? Upper? The decision is made before you show up. While these differing housing locations certainly impact day-to-day life at BC—Newton students have to take the bus every day to get to Main Campus, while Upper students have to deal with the much more manageable additional staircase—there are other, less observed, but more important effects: friends, and more broadly, friend groups.

Taking the same route back to your dorm after a weekend night out or after class, bumping into each other in the bathroom—no matter where you live your first year, you’re bound to have countless interactions with the people you live around And from these countless interactions, friendships are bound to grow. What I realized after my freshman year is that while I had friends from different dorms, my closest were those who lived in Gonzaga with me. Observing those around me, I realized that many friend groups were formed in a similar fashion, with those who lived in the same dorms.

This isn’t to say that all friends are formed in this way—obviously shared interests, classes, extracurriculars, and many other factors contribute to it. But it makes you wonder what would have happened if you had lived in a different dorm or a different campus freshman year. Would the friends you have now still be your friends? Or would you have met a different group of friends that you get along with? What if there is a group of people you would get along with, but you haven’t met, simply because you haven’t lived near them, or because of the large student body?

A lottery placed us freshman year and gave us our friends. A similar process happened for sophomore year, with even more stress: Friends are segmented based on the desired living arrangements—eight-mans on Lower—and then further with the nine-, six- and four-mans on Lower when the lottery doesn’t work in one’s favor. But many of the original arrangements of eight-mans are formed based on the assignment people received for their freshman year. It’s almost as if the people you live with your sophomore year are predetermined by the same system which determined your neighbors freshman year, excluding those who chose to go in as singles for a random assignment.

The year this all seems to change is junior year. Many students go abroad during junior year, and many live off campus, introducing sublets into the mix. While the houses might initially be filled with the same groups that were formed freshman and sophomore year, the students going abroad usually fill their gap with a sublet. This disturbs the relatively stagnant friend groups from the previous two years. Furthermore, living off-campus is almost like a campus of its own, where you run into other students on the various shuttles to campus. This is bound to influence the friend groups of freshman and sophomore years, as your view widens.

Seeing the way that freshman and sophomore housing works, there are bound to be students on campus that you haven’t met by chance of the housing system. While the off-campus mix-up certainly helps juniors meet others who they haven’t met yet, it won’t solve everything. If we want to find the people we get along with the best, we have to actively seek them out. We need to make individual efforts. Get lunch, coffee, dinner, invite them to hang out on the weekends. While the friends we made freshman and sophomore year might be great, they might not be the best friends we could have at BC. There’s no way of knowing—only by following some internal compass can we find people that truly support us and share similar interests and likes.

In order to find these friends, we must take part in activities and meet people we share interests with. BC offers an immense range of clubs, and capitalizing on these opportunities is what will help us find the friends we truly get along with.

 Featured Image by Sang Lee

December 6, 2015