The Vanderbilt Hustler

First-Year Focus: Catching up

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First-Year Focus: Catching up

Rachel Wei

It’s 8 a.m. on Monday morning. Walking into the Commons dining hall, you notice that you don’t see the same faces anymore. In fact, it seems like every face in the dining hall is new. Of course this happens just as I was getting used to which group of friends I enjoy eating breakfast with, you think.

While some of us may have settled into a new routine of who we see and eat with during meals according to our second semester schedules, I think many miss seeing the familiar faces of last semester, and eating with certain friends whose schedules don’t coincide with theirs anymore.

I know that I sometimes miss the routine I got into last semester during mealtimes. I loved being able to catch up with the same friends, and also meet new people, during mealtimes. While I enjoy being able to get to know and catch up with different friends this semester, I often wonder if there is a simple way we can keep the friendships we made first semester alive while simultaneously making new ones.

Although we all live and learn with each other on the same campus, it’s easy to lose track of friends and acquaintances. Maybe it’s because you never pass each other on the way to class anymore, or your schedules are the exact opposite. Sometimes, it feels like some people have all but disappeared. However, I’ve found that getting meals has been a great way to catch up with friends I don’t really see any more on a day-to-day basis.

I remember my sister telling me that in college, consistently getting meals with others is one of the ways she kept up friendships, and now I’m starting to see why. Although some people are able to keep up with close friendships back home without consistent conversations, I think that’s pretty rare; most close, meaningful relationships are built on solid, deep conversations that really bridge the gap between an acquaintance and a friend.

This semester, I’ve started to intentionally schedule meals with friends I felt like I really clicked with first semester, but don’t see anymore. My roommate and I also try to get a meal together every week to make sure we set aside time to actually catch up. While having to catch up may sound weird since we live together, often times we’re busy studying, out at events or meetings or in class. Even for two people who arguably spend a lot of time together, we still feel like meals are a really effective way for us to bond and make sure we’re maintaining our friendship.

I’ve written about using meals as a way to reach out to new friends, which I still think is a great idea, and very rewarding. However, as we continue our journey to becoming upperclassmen and settling in at Vandy, I would encourage you to start mindfully using meals to catch up with friends you never see anymore, or to bridge that gap between acquaintance and friend with someone you think you really click with. Any relationship needs to maintained, so reaching out to those we already know in order to continue building meaningful relationships is just as important as continuing to reach out to strangers and build new friendships.

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