To the extraordinary friends who helped me through college

By Stephanie Youssef

Let me tell you a quick story. It was December of my sophomore year. I was studying for fall semester finals in my apartment when I looked up and observed the condition of my living room. There sat my sister and our friends, splayed across the couches, surrounded by papers and laptops, concentrating on their studies.

I then looked down at the papers and books covering my legs and the countertop around me and couldn’t help but laugh. I felt like I was part of a special group.

You see, I used to consider myself a loner by nature. I generally loathe talking extensively about myself and gravitate mostly towards individual activities. I enjoy running as a sport and Rubik’s Cube-ing as a hobby and I keep most aspects of my life very private.

Despite my guarded nature, it’s impossible to get through a degree at a school this big without meeting new people. We inadvertently create a vast network of connections just from the people we sit with in class or through those we encounter at extracurricular activities in which we participate. After three and a half years of this unintentional networking, I’ve learned a thing or two. It’s the special connections that are important to success in college.

Year after year, we are continuously encumbered with people we add on Facebook who we met once on a Friday night, with students we have a group project with and never see again and with phone numbers from people who only ever text when they need a favor. We might categorize all of these aforementioned people as acquaintances and say hello as we walk by them on the quad, but these aren’t the people who make up our special groups.

The people who are really special are those who hang out with you when you aren’t trying to do anything. That small but closely knit group of people who sit on the couch in your living room as if it were their own house and can access your fridge without needing to ask. They are the ones whose words keep you sane in times of stress and whose laughs join in when you are just acting crazy. They are the people who support you through your trials as an undergraduate, and who can transform your time on campus.

By now, most of us have gone through at least a few months as University students and understand that undergrad isn’t always a smooth ride. Getting an education at an esteemed institution with a reputation of academic excellence brings tumultuous trials into every major. This can be a good thing. It can challenge us to step out of our comfort zones and grow as students and adults—as does anything worth doing. However, going through four years of the University’s plot twists alone can be too much for any one student to handle. But at a university this big, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing that you don’t have to be alone.

It’s those who stay up studying with you the night before an exam that really matter. It’s those who come over and hug you when you are distressed, no matter how busy they are, that you should hold dear. It’s those who criticize you, not because they want to tear you down, but because they care about you enough to want to make you better.

It’s the friends who never turn you down when you ask for help, advice or a glass of wine that help you succeed as a student.

The end of this semester marks the end of my undergraduate career. I, like many other students, recognized early on that my time at the University was not going to be eternal, so I was sure to make every minute of it count with the friends who really matter. I suffered with them through exams, laughed with them at bar nights and suffered with them again through our headaches the next morning. They held my hand through grieving and loss and were always sure to keep tissues around in times of sorrow. They were the ones who made it possible for me to get out of bed in the morning day after day for three and a half years because I knew I could count on seeing them after class.

Now, graduating with a job to look forward to and academic accomplishments I am proud to look back on both signify an undergraduate career with no regrets. To some degree, I owe credit to every professor I have had, every person I have met and every step I have taken on and around campus. But without a doubt, I know I could not have made it to this point without my special group of people.

Thank you Amanda, Daisy, Kim, Madhuri, Robin and Sehar.

I call them my choice family. They make a sort of friendship that is hard to express with words.

Stephanie is a senior in LAS.?

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