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7 Types Of University Friendships

This is what friends are for.

1. The next door neighbour

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The girl who lived next door to me ended up becoming one of my best friends. At first, we'd knock on one another's doors and tentatively offer the other a cup of tea and some small talk. But before long, the awkwardness subsided and we knew everything about each other. I could tell her apart by the sound of her knock, the shuffle of her footsteps, the sound of her keys in her hands. I got used to the way her denim jacket hung over her, the boots she wore to lectures, the way she pinned her hijab. I would've easily been able to tell her apart from everyone else in a crowd even if everyone was wearing the same thing. When someone is important to you, you memorise every detail of them. You do it without even realising.

We got used to seeing each other laugh and cry. We got used to each other full stop. We saw each other in every mode possible and got used to announcing ourselves by just wandering into rooms and telling the other about our day. She's about to move to the other side of the world. But I don't think that's going to stop us being best friends.

2. The one with similar interests and beliefs

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I once logged into my Facebook and found a message request from someone I didn't know very well at all. But I knew her name. Everyone at our campus did. She was, and is, unapologetically cool. She said she'd read something I'd written for a student publication, about feeling different as a woman of colour at a prestigious university, and it had resonated with her. I replied, and it was as simple as that. We became friends. It's funny because she let me know, later on, that she'd seen me around and had already circled me in her head as someone to be friends with. She got her wish.

Fast forward to today and we have almost exactly the same thoughts and opinions on most things, from favourite actors and singers to writers and political theorists. It feels pretty huge to sit opposite someone during dinner and feel understood. To feel like whatever my next sentence will be, the girl in front of me will know what I'm talking about without asking for more explanations from me. I can't really describe the magic of that as anything but solidarity and sisterhood and friendship.

3. The challenger

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I asked an acquaintance to coffee once. We had friends in common and, I figured, more to discuss than the handful of words we said to one another in the library or at a friends' party. I also really liked his shoes. Anyway, it turns out, we did. We had lots of things to say to each other. Some of which, I didn't know all that much about and some of which he didn't know all that much about, but that was what was so interesting about us becoming friends. We shared a passion for film, for books, for current affairs. And every time we met up, our interests would diverge and we'd be happy to listen to the other speak about what they knew. We'd agree with one another, and we'd disagree with one another, and we'd laugh about it and keep going.

Even now, the sentences we give to each other feel part of a much larger discussion, full of blanks we'll fill the other in on when we feel confident in what we know and when we're bothered to explain it. There's still so many experiences made and people met and films watched and books read to laugh about and think about and shrug about. So much we're happy to find out about and share.

4. The coursemate

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It's easy to become friends with someone who is doing the same subject as you, but it's useful in more than just sharing notes and lectures and book lists. I made friends with a girl who yes, was an English student like me, but who was so similar to me in so many other ways. We share an enthusiasm for different perspectives and weird music and spontaneity and odd references. Being friends is the simplest thing in the world. There's a peacefulness to our interactions, to the space we give one another to do our own thing and then get together and talk about it. She paints and she writes and she cracks jokes. I paint and I write and I crack jokes.

They aren't the same paintings or writings or jokes but they're things we like to share that are happily different and happily similar at the same time. We laugh at the same silly things, and always end up giving each other the same kind of advice. Being friends feels like no effort at all, because we understand one another and we give each other what we have: a warmth and a listening ear and lots of laughs.

5. The not-quite-friend-yet

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I was standing in a circle with some friends, and a few that I didn't know all that well, feeling a bit awkward, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. This was at an academic talk and I can't remember what it was about. But a semi-stranger turned to me and said something about how it's the friendships you sort of have, the ones on the fringes, that always end up being super rewarding. I'd seen this girl around, she was part of my wider social circle, but that that was the point when she introduced herself to me. After that, things were different. We made a point of saying hello to one another every time we saw each other, and then we were having dinner parties in cramped university rooms and study sessions followed by coffee and long conversations in the grass.

We saw each other recently and, like always, it felt cathartic to sit down and speak, to share our lives and our senses of self. I messaged her afterwards, letting her know how much I appreciated her and she replied, from her internship office in Paris, hoping we'd stay in touch. She was right about those fringe-friendships. Except I know now that I don't sort of have her. I do.

6. The older friend

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My older friend found me seriously considering a transfer to a different uni in my first term of and gave me some super grounding advice. She was in her final year and had some wisdom to share about sticking things out. I still remember her sitting down to talk to me in a friend's room, insisting that things would get better but it was okay to be frustrated about them too. And things did get better. Of course they did. She graduated and sent me a message letting me know how proud she was of me for learning that, too.

We live together now. We watch films together and cook dinner together and talk about everything. I still think about her original advice: how she told me to take all of my annoyances and use them in a productive way. She said it was important to care about things, and that being critical of them showed that I did. I've been taking her advice for a long time now.

7. The younger friend

Cassandra Calin / Via cassandracalin.com

I got to know her during my final term of my final year at university, surprised that she was actually someone I could talk to. We went on midnight food runs and spent hours talking about pop culture, and difficult people, and all the things we found hard about university. It's funny how things naturally repeat themselves. I realised that I was the wise older friend to another girl over noodles and tea. But the gap between us isn't so huge, and I think I'm mostly pretty good at being down with the kids, so our conversations are fun and easy. And I'm secretly pleased at being considered cool enough to keep around.

She's back at uni now, and I'm not, but we support each others' journeys. I'll have more randomly assorted advice to give her one day. She'll always have the enthusiasm and the maturity that drew us together in the first place.

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