A freshman from Taiwan, Zih Rou Wu, said she set one goal: Sit with someone new every time she went to the Cafeteria and have a conversation in English. Wu, who is studying TESOL, shared she originally made this goal for herself as a challenge in one of her classes to improve her skills in English.
What she did not realize at first was the lasting connections and fun she would have with this seemingly daunting task. “[Following my goal] was a change where I knew a bunch of new people, and I found it interesting as well because I like to do that.”
Wu and other students shared they have had similar experiences of trying to find good friends amidst the constant barrage of changes and new life experiences being thrown at them through their busy college lives.
Ella Fernandez, a freshman from California studying marketing, expressed she went through the same thing as Wu when getting close to new people. She touched on how much pressure there can be to find core friends from the start, even when people around her are transferring or leaving on missions.
“Everybody always talks about how you’re going to meet your friends here who are going to be your friends for the rest of your life, and I feel like there’s so much pressure on kids to find those friends right off the bat. It’s not always like that.”
Both Wu and Fernandez explained they need a certain amount of trust in their friendships that can take a while to fully develop.
Wu said, “Trustworthy friends or best friends don’t need to know everything about you deeply, but sometimes I think the most important thing is to accompany each other and listen to each other’s needs to give suggestions to each other.”
Fernandez and Wu said it can be hard to find people similar to them, but it is easier at BYUH, where most people share their same values and core beliefs.
Fernandez commented, “Finding friends with similar values to you is so helpful because it just makes you feel … like your values are confirmed, and you don’t have to try to be someone else. Your friend group is where you’re supposed to feel most comfortable, and if you’re not most comfortable with them, that’s hard.”
Joy Tang, a freshman from Canada studying marketing, also talked about how having the same values made it easier to create a platform for genuine idea and story sharing.
“When you get super close with people, you can just talk about anything pretty much, especially here in this school where everyone is so nice. We all live according to our standards, so it is really easy to bond with everyone.”
On top of that, Tang said friends need to form trust between themselves to wade through disagreements and possible drama in the friendship.
“I think [friends] just really need to believe in each other and trust [each other] if there are misunderstandings or if you have some sort of dispute or whatever. You have to trust that person and give them a chance to explain themselves.”
With these ideas in mind, Tang explained she looks for genuineness and actual care in her friends and how imperative it is for her to feel she can rely on her friends to be there for her. She also said she tries to foster the same qualities in herself to be an equal player in the game of friends.
“Some people say, ‘Hey, let me know if you need anything,’ and they don’t actually mean it, but there are people who actually mean it. If you deepen your relationship with those people who really do want to help you and who really do mean it when they [say they] care about you, that will make your social life, and mental health as well, a lot better.”
From personal experience, Wu shared it is necessary for her friends to stick up for her, even when she is not around. “For me, real friends stand up for you when you are suffering from injustice … Real friends stand up even when you don’t notice they are standing up for you.
“I like to be with friends who share their love … Friends are different than family, but they are like family because they don’t have to know everything, but they know you’re sad. They take care of you, and they want to show their love.”
Take the first step
Fernandez said it is necessary to take action and to be open to making all kinds of new friends, especially when dealing with things like homesickness, depression, and a number of other struggles college students face.
“You’re away from home and your family, and you still need support when you’re here. It’s just nice to have people care about you who are also going through the same things you’re going through because they can relate to you … Friends are different from family because you can choose [who they are].”
The concept of choosing friends and developing deep, true friendships is close to Tang’s heart, as she said having close friends in college can be the only way to deal with the stresses of college.
Tang said, “Everyone wants friends. So just know that and kind of take advantage of that. Sometimes you’re going to have to be the one who steps up and invites people to hang out. Sometimes, you are going to have to be the person to take the first step to get a new friend, but it is totally worth it.”