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Sidewalk alongside Curtin Road with students walking. Thursday, August 12, 2021

“College is where you’ll meet lifetime friends,” is what I was told. But if you’re anything like me, making friends has been a challenge.

As someone who has always been a busy person, having a lot of friends was never a significant part of my life, but I was hoping to change that my freshman year. For my first two years of college, I attended Penn State Abington where I commuted to and from school while working a part-time job.

That meant right after classes, I went straight to work, and the little free time I had consisted of schoolwork. Since I was a commuter, having few friends didn’t bother me too much because I still had some friends from high school, and I was surrounded by family.

It wasn’t until the pandemic where I felt lonely and was wishing I had more people to connect with. The transition from in-person learning to virtual learning was extremely difficult and confusing — considering that some of my professors didn’t know how to work Zoom at first, so we were all learning together.

This change would have felt easier if I had known more people in my classes for reassurance that I was not alone.

One day we were all in school and the next, we were all at home for the rest of the spring semester and beyond.

Fast forward to my junior year where I moved to State College and away from my friends and family, virtual learning was still in full effect.

I thought this was going to be the year to branch out and connect with people, but most of us were just stuck in our dorms or apartments, leaving that out of the question. I knew little to no one, but luckily I had extremely loving roommates who made the “away from home” part easier.

Now as a senior who is back in person, I have some pretty challenging classes along with internship responsibilities, making it even harder to attend clubs and events.

When I do have the time to go out and venture, everyone is already in their own friend groups, and I am too shy to intrude.

There are times where I meet great people and exchange numbers but eventually lose contact as time goes on due to the busyness of our schedules.

I never thought that the older you get the harder it is to make lasting friendships, but I understand it’s because of the circumstances we’ve encountered.

Sometimes I wish I started my college experience at University Park, so I would have had a different outcome. But, there’s nothing any of us could have done to stop the result of the pandemic.

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