It always feels like one of those crossover episodes when my friends in college meet my friends from high school. The friendships, though all very special to me, still feel somewhat unique and separate from one another since they represent very different parts of my life.
Over Spring Break I met up with a friend from back home, Katie, in New York. After spending a few days in an Airbnb with Hopkins friends, my weekend getaway culminated in a day trip to the Big Apple. My friend and I had planned to meet there after a serendipitous alignment of events brought her to the city for her study-abroad semester.
Before this, we had only been able to meet in person once in the past three years, since we began our college careers in different countries. Prior to Spring Break, the last time I had seen any of my high school friends was during a spontaneous day trip to New York City last semester.
As Katie and I described it, seeing one another after so long felt like a breath of fresh air and a reminder of home. We felt as if we could let our walls down and forget our fears of vulnerability for a moment.
While domestic college students have the option to reunite with childhood friends over Thanksgiving or winter break, it has always taken a lot of time and effort for me to reconnect with mine. My friends and I are now dispersed all over the world, with the Philippines serving as our home base.
Of course there are some things that only Hopkins students understand, such as suffering from burnout, complaining about the administration and discussing research opportunities. I am grateful for the community I have found at college that has helped make Baltimore a home away from home.
But the conversations with someone you’ve grown up with are still somewhat different. There is no need to give context or background to every story, since both of you are so familiar with the characters in each other’s lives. There is no need to explain the reasoning and decisions behind your actions. And this does not speak to the campus culture or anything of Hopkins — I do love getting to meet new people here — it’s just the natural progression of relationships in our lives.
Our conversations transition seamlessly from catching up on our college lives to talking about families and mutual friends. While our topics may have evolved from crushes and high school drama to career goals and societal issues, our random musings on our lives beyond college remain the same. Who do you think will get married first? Has your type changed? Where do you see yourself settling down? These are questions that we may have laughed about in high school but are now confronted with as we approach the reality of “adult life.”
Though it may have taken some time, it is heartwarming to see similar topics begin to creep into my late-night talks here with Hopkins friends as well.
The pandemic was a blessing in disguise, as some of my friends remained at home and we were able to spend extra time together on special occasions. I recall a night at my friend’s house last summer when Manila had just announced another set of lockdowns, and we decided to extend our hangout into a spontaneous sleepover. A group of friends and I were lounging in my friend’s pool during a night swim, poking fun at each other and reminiscing on our high school mistakes, as we always do.
But this time, we were also wondering about the future. A future beyond the pandemic. A future where we were all back at our respective schools, apart from one another yet again. A future that has now become the present.
Before we all left home, my friends and I made countless future plans to find times and places to reunite, from going bar hopping in Manila to recreating our senior Batch Bora and Rome trips. But, as we’ve grown older, I’ve realized that this is the future of our friendships: small pockets of time spent together when the stars in our schedules align. It’s a drastic shift from seeing each other almost every day for years.
When we are not together, all we can do is offer our sincerest encouragement from across the world. Even now the melancholic reality has started to seep in that my college friendships may share the same fate.
Though we no longer talk everyday as we each have our own lives and career paths to pursue, it is reassuring to know that, despite the time and distance, our friendship, support and love for one another will continue to endure.
Michelle Limpe is a junior from the Philippines studying Chemistry and Public Health. She is a Managing Editor for The News-Letter. In her articles, she likes to reflect on finding the silver linings in life to give meaning to her struggles.