To my high school friend,

I wish you could have seen me those first few weeks away at college: my face trembled with fear, tears constantly swelled in my eyes, butterflies always filling in my stomach, all while feeling lost as I lacked the friendship that I was so used to having in high school. Yes, there were kids from our area that came to Rutgers with me, and I absolutely could have reached out and attempted to foster a closer relationship with those people who already knew who I was. But there was nothing more I longed for than for that one friend from home to be by my side as we embarked on this new adventure that we call “college.”

The first semester was a journey: searching for the people who provided me with a sense of ease and comfort, balancing classwork with attempts to get involved in extracurricular activities, all while trying to turn my new environment into a place that I can comfortably call “home.” In the midst of FaceTiming old friends to aid in this sense of ease I longed for, I received the news that you were beginning to look at other schools to transfer to your second semester. With a huge grin filling my face and a sense of excitement coming over me, I had a gut feeling that you were going to wind up at Rutgers in January.

By the time winter break rolled around, I had finally begun to find myself and the people that I knew were going to make my college experience a special one: laughter that constantly reminded me of being home, smiles that were always ear-to-ear when we were hanging out, and a sense of pleasure that my first semester wound up being one of the most memorable experiences of my life. You would think that all of the memories that were created these first few months away from home would be some of the most noteworthy, but it was the news that you, my friend, were coming to Rutgers in the spring semester that provided me with the greatest sense of joy.

You finally arrived after winter break, and I could not have been more ecstatic to have you with me on the remainder of this journey; you were someone who knew my highs and lows, someone who knew my past and was eager to help me through the present, someone who always knew how to put a smile on my face, and someone, more than anything, who very simply knew me for me. I did everything I could to make your transition smoother than mine, to make you feel like Rutgers is your “home away from home,” and to make you realize that you being at school with me was one of the most important and influential things to happen since I ventured away from home. Even though I had my school friends (who I was so eager for you to meet), spending time with you was my escape from everything and provided me with the greatest sense of nostalgia than I could have ever asked for.

When you give a college girl her high school friend, someone who she was relatively close with during those four years and someone who knew her for who she really was, everything changes: You allowed me to be open and honest. You allowed me to feel a sense of comfort in knowing that you were aware of most everything confidential in my life. You always reassured me and gave your opinion when asked, regardless if it agreed with mine or not. You loved me even when I wasn’t lovable, you made me happy even when there seemed to be no way to put a smile on my face, and you truly changed my college experience for the better. I would not have asked for anything more than to have you at Rutgers with me as we enjoy the greatest four years of our lives together.

Thank you for being you, my high school friend. I love you and appreciate you more than you will ever know.