It is no secret that a big fear everyone has when they go off to school is that you will lose touch with all of your friends from home. You worry that they will make new best friends, new memories, and even a whole new life that no longer has a place for you.

The first few weeks of school are a whirlwind of stranger's faces, different surroundings, and constant activity that you easily forget about what you left behind at home. Day by day, new relationships are made and you begin to form a life separate from what you used to have. I created a whole new world for myself with other people who I now share memories, laughter and gossip with late at night. I experienced so many “firsts” with my friends from college and these friends will follow me through the “best four years of my life." However, just because there were many miles and even states between my hometown friends and I, we only managed to become closer.

We may no longer have those minutes between class when we would chat by our lockers or those shared smiles as we passed each other in the hallways, but this new distance between us has shown me that we have something so much greater, a true friendship. Every time we talk, it is as if no time has passed at all.

You were all there for me on my hardest and best days this past year, even if you could not provide that comfort or celebration in person. Throughout the school year, I received countless texts and pictures showing me what you all were doing in that moment or something funny that you needed to share. You all constantly made appearances in my conversations as I told my new friends all about you or something crazy we did. Knowing I could count on you, even with so much distance between us, gave me courage to step out of my comfort zone and try new things.

Now that we have all returned home for summer, everything has picked up where we left off. We still go on those late night donut runs or just drive around town with nowhere to really be. We still sing to old songs at the top of our lungs with the windows down. We still have the same inside jokes and comfortable familiarity around each other that we have always had. But now, living half of our year in a totally different place from one another, we also have something more. We have front row seats to each others “new lives”.

Hearing all about the interesting classes you have taken, the problems you had with your dorm, or even listening to you talk about a cute boy you saw at a party has given me a small glimpse of the life you have all created at school. It is exciting to see the differences in our Universities and it makes me anxious to watch all of the ways our next three years will unfold. Just because we have gone away and created new experiences, does not mean we have forgotten about those conversations by the lockers or shared smiles in the halls. College has shown me that no matter how far away we are, our “new lives” will always hold a special place for one another that no one else could fill.