Last year at this time, I was waiting to hear back from the universities I applied to. I was concerned about a lot of things, but among those, I was mostly searching for information about the schools' communities.

Community is important to me. My first four years of secondary school was filled with a lot of amazing people, great times and unforgettable memories.

Then, I transferred schools. Long story short, I had a hard time. Plus Covid? Sigh.

I still met good people, but I guess I was trying too hard to replicate the relationships I found in the first four years of my teenage life. Obviously, those expectations weren’t met.

As a result, one of my criteria when I was choosing universities was that they must have a good community. From places like Reddit, I thought U of T had a toxic environment and I wanted to avoid it at all costs. I remember reading really negative posts on the platform when I googled about U of T.

That said, there were some people that defended the University. Although that reassured me a bit, I was still quite worried when I hit the "accept offer" button.

And contrary to what I expected, the people I’ve met so far are extremely supportive. Thanks, Reddit, for the false information.

One thing that has helped me build relationships here is through understanding what works best for me.

I need the personal space. I’m more energetic and attentive after I get the time to recharge myself. If I was constantly in a space where there is a lot of noise, it wouldn’t take too long for me to lose interest in meeting new people. Living close enough to campus allows me to hang out and study with my friends and still walk back home to a quiet room of my own.

It’s also okay if a relationship is just so-so. It’s normal when the “friend” you sit with in a course doesn’t really talk to you after the semester ends. It’s not only happening to you. Trust me, everyone experiences this.

Here’s also one tip from me to build new relationships (especially if you’re an active Instagram user): Reply to their stories! If the conversation continues, schedule a time to visit a new café or grab coffee together.

I also like to tell people when I’m dropping by Robarts or Gerstein Library and that they can join me anytime.

I almost feel too young to say this, but my childhood friends agree as well: The relationships you make when you’re older are just different from the friendships you’ve had since you were young.

I don’t think I need to explain that feeling, because I believe a lot of us resonate with that statement.

My friends now are great, and that’s not because they replace the people who have been with me since childhood. They’re great simply because they’re sweet, supportive, and full of stories. I don’t stick with them every day like how I used to with my childhood friends. It took me some time to learn that it’s totally okay. Even if you only meet a person once every two months, as long you have stories to tell each other, I've learned that, yes, you are friends.

For those of you out there who are feeling lonely: join a community. Join many. Try many things out until you find the one you like. Find new restaurants and ask people to join you: you might find they were hoping you'd ask.

Loveeeee, Michelle

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