Make new friends, but keep the old

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This week I thought I’d focus on friendships – the title of the post is taken from a campfire song we often sing at Girl Guide camps:

“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.
A circle is round, it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend.
You have a hand, I have another, put them together and we have each other.”

It’s pretty simplistic, but kind of sums up the thoughts I’ve been having lately. The last week or so has been tough for me for a multitude of reasons, and often I find myself cursing the inconvenience of the 8-hour time difference. I’m trying to maintain friendships at home, but it’s difficult when, unlike my mom, my UBC/Vancouver friends can’t just Skype me at any convenient hour. Still, it’s nice to hear from friends at home and makes me feel like I’ll be welcomed back with open arms in a couple of months.

Despite my initial concern, I haven’t found it particularly difficult to make friends in Edinburgh – not only did I get lucky with my flatmates, but I have also had the opportunity to meet people through a cappella, yoga, women’s choir, various classes, and residence. Everyone I’ve met has been so nice and I’ve had many a conversation about travel, exchange, classes, and the differences between Scotland and Canada.

One of the most surprising things for me has been the kinship I feel to anyone North American that I meet. Having gone to university in my hometown, I can safely say that the last time I felt like I was truly an ‘outsider’ was when I went to primary school in Edinburgh (2002). At age 6, I had far less self-awareness, but now at nearly 21 I can sense the subtle differences in me – my love of plaid and Lululemon leggings, my lost-ness in classes, my discomfort walking on cobblestones, my temperature adjustments as the weather changes (everyone else seems to think it’s ‘cold’), and obviously my non-UK accent. (Also, no one here seems to wear rainboots, whereas at home they are a necessary staple.)

This isn’t to say that the Scottish (and English) people I’ve met are unfriendly – on the contrary, it’s been really nice to chat about UK things and ask questions of locals or people who’ve been studying here for several years. In particular, having grown up with a dad from the Borders and being familiar with a heavy dialect and accent, I love just listening to Scottish accents; we don’t get many of them in Vancouver, so it makes a nice change. My sister said that if I didn’t come home with an accent, she’d send me back, so I’d better hope that some of the lovely Scottish lilts I hear will rub off on me 🙂

I guess the moral of the story here is that I shouldn’t have been so worried about making friends, since everyone feels the same anxiety when starting university/living with roommates/going on exchange. I was led to believe that it would be easy, and it has been easier than expected – but unknown situations like this are always nerve-wracking! I will definitely be passing on the wisdom to others that it’s easier than it may appear.

I must cut myself off before this becomes ramble-y! To all my friends and family, both new and old: you are so, so important to me and I appreciate all the support.

Wish me luck as I continue to drown in readings while foolishly travelling every weekend!

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