As the summer wore away and I thought more and more about starting vet school, I was most looking forward to meeting people and making new friends. This was in stark contrast to when I went off to undergrad: Back then, I was most worried about making friends and meeting people. I had known my best friend since kindergarten; I had known all my good friends at least since the 6th grade. I did not believe that four years of college would be enough time to make the same kind of relationships as those I had with my childhood friends. Naturally, I was completely wrong. It turns out that when you live with, eat with, learn with, practice with, and have fun with your peers, you get pretty close. Having realized this fundamental tenet of higher education, I was very excited to go back to school. I knew I was going to meet people I would be friends with for the rest of my life, but again, I was surprised. During orientation, we spent so much of the time sitting and listening to people talk, we hardly had any time to talk amongst ourselves. While we did have a team-building activity with our tutor groups, it was still a week before two of my groupmates and I all realized we hailed from the same state. The hardest part of my transition to life in vet school was that period when, while I was becoming acquainted with my classmates, I still didn't have any friends. We weren't sitting in lectures yet, we didn't have lab groups yet, and we were done at 5 in the afternoon. My mind was full of home, what my friends were doing, and the fact that I was in a new place with out any of them. When I was finally too busy with studying to worry about making friends, it happened. I didn't realize it all at once, but rather, noticed in little moments. Someone waved hello across the parking lot. Someone said good morning to me as I sat down in lecture. Someone offered to grab me a school paper to read during lunch. Someone invited me to pull up a chair in the cafeteria. Someone wanted to be my partner during lab. Someone smiled at me in the library. Someone wanted to study together over the weekend.
So, almost imperceptibly, I acquired friends, and they are just as wonderful as I knew they'd be. They are thoughtful, kind, interesting, worldly, well-read, funny, crafty, musical, athletic, good cooks, and so, so smart. I don't remember now exactly what the occasion was, but a few weeks ago, I was with my friends, and a thought made itself forcefully present in my mind: These are my people, this is my niche, here I am, where I belong. There is no more self-affirming thought that that.