Credit: Christine Lam

As everyone started to commit to their colleges at the end of senior year, I was finally able to see where everyone would spend their next four years. It had been a very stressful time of not knowing for them, and for me as well, since I was an early admit to Penn.

In a perfect world, I would have liked to have gone to college with all my best friends from high school. Imagine another four years with the same people you’ve come to know and love. While this did not happen, one of my best friends was accepted to Penn off the waitlist. 

Having someone from back home is amazing. You can bond with them even closer, have a friend to eat with at the dining hall, study together, etc. This is the type of person that knows you inside and out — they know how to push your buttons. When you’re sick, they are the first people reaching out to see if you’re OK and if you need anything. These are special people in your life that you hold dear to your heart. They are not just some random people you met at Quaker Days. 

College freshman Lin Jia Chen came to Penn with her close friend, fellow College freshman James Aykit. Chen appreciates having a friend to walk to class with, just like she always had during high school.

“It’s like we get to do the same things as we did in high school,” Chen said, “but a more grown-up, college version of it.” 

When I complain about my problems to one of my good friends at Harvard University, she says I am at least lucky to be going to Penn with someone from high school who can relate to me. Our friend group got split up; two went to Penn, two went to Yale, and one went to Harvard. I still admire her courage for starting college on her own since most of us had a friend to rely on. 

And yet, there are some disadvantages of coming to college with a friend. It requires a bit more effort to meet new people because it just feels better to stick to your best friend. Depending on the type of relationship you have, competition can happen if you are in the same classes. And, you start to become dependent on one another. This dependency can hold back your personal growth, and ultimately, your college experience. But, that’s only if you let it happen.

Credit: File Photo

Now that my first semester is behind me, I have learned to set boundaries and expectations with my friend here at Penn and my other close friend at Drexel University. Making and creating friendships with others that used to be acquaintances has become something I am working hard on. The social stigma of eating in a dining hall alone has gone away.

Going from a small high school environment to a big school like Penn has been a weird transition. I used to love that small, close-knit community where I would see all my friends in the hallways. I know these tight communities exist at Penn, but I’m still trying to navigate my way around campus to find them. 

Essentially, the answer is not to shun my friend. While I branch off and make new friends, these friends can easily become hers too. This is only the beginning; there is still time to find new groups of friends.

Before I knew my friend would attend Penn with me, I had envisioned a whole four years trying to experience everything by myself. I definitely feel that students that come to Penn without any friends from their high school are stronger and their ability to make friends in unfamiliar social situations is a testament to that strength.

At the end of the day, I really appreciate all the friends from back home I have in the Philadelphia region. I know if I ever had an emergency, they’d be there for me in a heartbeat. Even so, I think now is the time for me to test the waters and take a dive into the wider social pool at Penn.

CARLOS ARIAS VIVAS is a College freshman from Stamford, Conn., studying communication. His email address is

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