In the spirit of honesty with which I started the blog, I want to talk about friendships and making friends post-university. I will state at the outset that I am an introvert and the sort of person who would have 2-3 close friends to confide in. I love having friends/acquaintances to meet with for coffee/lunch but I would find it hard to have too large a circle of close friends.
All my friends I have made at university, during different states of my educational career. I think this is fairly normal but has the subsequent problem of distance for those who studied abroad. I made amazing friendships during my Master's in London but due to the international nature of the cohort, many moved back home to the US. Similarly, during my doctorate most of my friends were international and few have stayed in the UK. (*Here I would also like to add the difficulty in that PhD students study for 3-4 years while you may make friends with one-year Masters students - people dip in and out of your life). For those who did stay, many did not stay in the same town.
Oxford became a more lonely place when I completed my studies and began working. Without a college affiliation, much of the social activities I used to be involved with were closed to me. Even if I had retained it, I didn't want to the odd alumna who just hung around. I realised that university (and particularly Oxford with its ready-made collegiate community) made it too easy to organically make friends. Little effort needed to be made to meet others. Work-life was completely different. People's priorities are different - hanging out after work isn't as easy for those with childcare responsibilities for example. I was lucky that some of my friends who moved to other parts of the UK had reasons to come back often, but cultivating new friends post-university was and still is a challenge for me.
Oxford began to feel small. London was calling. I knew way more people who lived and worked there and I hoped that I would organically begin to cultivate those friendships more. But London is huge, plans fall apart, and new friendships are harder to develop. I'm not writing this as a pity party. I have plenty of friends, I just haven't developed my London social circle yet! What I have realised it that I took making friends for granted, that it was a given. But student life creates an environment that is designed to make it easy - shared common interests and experiences, close networks, ready-made socialising, etc. I know now that I have to try, which as an introvert is a challenge but one I must face. I have to be proactive at contacting people and making plans.
I'm not one for New Year's resolutions but I think this could be a good one.
And if anyone in London fancies a coffee, please do get in touch!