In any given BU tour group, there’s always that parent, the one who asks “do we have a better chance of getting in if we say we lived in Zambia for six months?” or “what hospital do kids usually get sent to if they drink too much?” or “do people have sex in the stacks?”
And I, as a BU tour guide, have completed enough role-playing games to know how evade the uncomfortable answers these questions elicit (I don’t read applications, but probably. Mass General. I’ve heard of one case of stack-sex). But on a recent tour, one dad asked:
At a such a large university, did you have a hard time making friends?
I told him that I met some of my best friends freshman year through classes, through living in Warren Towers, through clubs. And while my answer sufficed, might have even satisfied some of the more tacit parents who were mulling over the same concern, the dad I both knew that I hadn’t answered his question.
I’m sorry for censoring myself, anonymous dad with receding hairline and blue Patagonia puffer vest. I would have pulled you and your daughter aside after I left you to “check out our newest dining hall on campus and grab a ‘slice’ of BU” and said:
I initially didn’t feel apart of any community at this school. I would meet people, try to forge a connection with them, and they would fall short of my unrealistic expectations. And when I did meet someone who approached these standards, I felt as if I might never see them again. So yes, I did have a hard time, and I was partially to blame.
But when I reflect with my friends—because, sir, I realize now that people I met freshman year have remained some of closest friends—they agree. At Boston University, no one will hold your hand and guide you up and down Commonwealth Avenue. Some friends might live T rides away, and you won’t see them everyday. You won’t get a chance to meet everyone, so you may be left wondering is there someone who could be exactly what I’m looking for? There isn’t just one dining hall, not one library, not one ”biggest social event of the season,” because, sir, our student body is fractured, leaving us with fissures in school pride, spirit and even camaraderie that no one successfully remedies.
But our social scene equips students with the necessary social skills to thrive once they leave Boston University. BU doesn’t dole out homogeneous communities: it teaches students how to build their own. You have to sign up for a bunch of clubs at Splash, even if you don’t think you’ll go to more than one meeting. You have to introduce yourself to that kid in your statistics class who seems cool, bond over the fact that you’re both English majors, and invite him to lunch at the GSU. You have to keep meeting people, who know these people, who know an entirely different set of people so your people and their people and their people can be each other’s people. And even when you’ve found your people, you’ll still sometimes find yourself without any people because not everyone’s class schedules, and activities and lives align.
My best friend, a girl I met in French class freshman year, puts it best:
Boston University taught me how to eat lunch alone.
It’s not that she’s lonely. She just feels comfortable being independent.