Growing up, I always wanted time to pass by faster. A high achiever, I was always looking forward to the next step, the next activity, and the next milestone. College was one of those moments I was looking forward to the most. I couldn’t wait to have my own rules, live my own life, and have new experiences. I was tired of the tired routine back home in Ecuador and I wanted to try something new.
Before I knew it, I was accepted to Boston College, graduated high school, and not only moved to a different city, but a different country. Going to college abroad gives students even more pressure to make the most of their college experience. It must mean something if you are leaving your family, your friends, your house, your previous life—practically everything—behind.
Time flew by surprisingly quickly. Before I knew it, I was in my first week of freshman year. At first, everyone was extremely nice and eager to get to know each other. But as two months also seemed to fly by, it seemed as if friend groups were already established. At BC, this is very common. Friend groups get clique-y so quickly, but to me, it is all an act. It takes a very long time for me to open up and to actually consider someone a friend, so seeing friend groups form so quickly was extremely shocking and I constantly found myself questioning why people were accepting this. It can be very isolating and toxic to have this culture at Boston College, especially since freshman year can be tough and spark a rollercoaster of emotions. Dealing with homesickness and fake friendships is very difficult and is something unfortunately very real at BC.
College itself is hard, no understatement—but as an international student, it is even more difficult to make friends. There is a large difference in culture, lifestyles, language, and overall experiences. This situation can be even more tough in an already isolating culture. As an international student, it is hard to find people that share the same interests, especially with Boston College being a predominantly white institution. As a PWI, Boston College is not ready for diversity and it does not know how to embrace it. Even though the administration attempts to create a welcoming environment, some students have never been exposed to diversity. Finding friends as an international student can be challenging since you are not sure who will be approachable and welcoming. Sometimes you will find people who will explicitly tell you to go back to your country and to stop speaking your language of origin. After these encounters, it makes your trust issues even worse. Once again, this is making it harder for students to open up quickly and to feel that they do not fit in the BC friendship culture, which is very clique-y.
We’re told that these are the “best four years of our lives” and that we are supposed to be carefree. In reality, college is a complex journey filled with highs and lows. Many feelings such as guilt, sadness, excitement, anxiety, happiness, and exhaustion will come. Nobody knows what they’re doing when they first get to college. And once again, it is totally normal; in fact, it is part of the experience. And what I soon realized is that everyone is trying to figure everything out together. This is exactly why everyone should be more understanding and caring of each other. Just a bit of empathy will make this experience better for yourself and for others.
Throughout your time at BC, friends and people come and go, but you will be fortunate enough to progressively know who your true friends are. I would love to say that college is all sunshine and rainbows, but unfortunately, it is not. You will go through trials you thought you would never experience and friendship breakups you thought you would never have to face. And it will be painful, not to mention the stress that starts to increase with schoolwork and midterms. Everything may seem very overwhelming, but you will get through it. This friendship culture may make you feel alone, but you will find people who truly care about you and it will make a difference. It may not happen within the first two weeks of freshman year, but it will happen. The clique friendships are not real. Some may find their best friends during the first week of college, but some may find them junior year. I was lucky enough to find my best friend during the third month of freshman year. She has been there through thick and thin with me.
The same people who were your friends at the beginning of freshman year may not be around a few months later (and if they are, don’t forget to tell them how special they are). You don’t need the perfect friend group to be happy at BC. New experiences will bring you new friends. Try to be more open to getting to know more people, even if they are different from you. And know that you should try and enjoy college as much as you can regardless of your friend situation because eventually, it will come to an end.