The Tough Decision to Leave Friends Behind

As most of you know by now, I’m changing schools in September. The past two years, I’ve studied literature and linguistics (Dutch & English) at the University of Ghent. This, however, didn’t turn out as well as I wanted it to, so I decided to instead start a teacher training in English and history at Artevelde University College. This was a very difficult decision for me, but not for the reasons you might suspect. I know a teacher training is going to fit me a lot better, and I know Artevelde has a really good programme – I’m really looking forward to starting. What did make this decision so difficult, was leaving my friends behind.

Let’s go back in time for a bit: the 21st of September 2015, my first day at Ghent University. The very first class was an English one, taught by what came to be my favourite professor at the entire University. Not even ten minutes into the class she told us to turn around and talk to the person in front/behind us, and that’s the exact moment I first met one of the best friends I’ve ever had in my life – ever since day one she’s been by my side, and I could not imagine what my life at university would have been like had I not met her. A lot of people have asked me the same question over and over again the past few weeks: do you not regret your two years at university, now you’re not finishing the degree? The answer is simple: no, I do not, because had it been any different I’d never have met her.

But she is not the only one who made these two years worthwhile. There are so many others: people I met in the smaller class groups, people I had lunch with, people I studied with, people I mentored with, people who were crazy enough to join my creative writing team, people who accepted me into their friend groups without asking any questions, and people who taught me so much not only academically but also about myself, and I doubt they even realise they did. It’s as if half of my life is in that university building, and now I need to say goodbye. These people helped me become the person I am today, regardless of the fact whether I still talk to them or not – every single one played a significant role in my life on some level.

I know, I know: “you’re not leaving the damn country.” My campus isn’t even a minute away from theirs. Yet the feeling that I will no longer be a part of their lives the way I was before, was enough to make me doubt my decision to start a teacher training. I will no longer be able to participate in conversations about professors and subjects, I will no longer be able to relate to mentoring, I will no longer be able to participate in hours-long bitching sessions about syllabi, tasks, and essays… And that’s a very scary thing, not to belong to that part of their lives anymore, because isn’t that exactly how we became friends in the first place?

All chickening-out aside, I know I made the right decision for me. I know many of the friendships I had will fade, if not because of the topics probably just because I won’t see many of them anymore. Yet I also know that a few will stick around – and that’s how I was able to pull through with my decision: the knowledge that those whom I really share a more profound friendship with, will not leave me behind.

  • L. Parole

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