There is an interesting field of research which suggests humans can only meaningfully keep up a limited number of friendships. Some estimates place the number of close friends that an average human can maintain at just 5, whilst others place the figure a little higher and even suggest that some ‘hyper social’ people can have up to 20 close-friends.
The point is you can’t maintain very many friendships. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a wider circle of less close but still good friends (the limit of close friendships is probably around 30). So, whilst we might know hundreds of people, especially on social media, this doesn’t mean we invest in or care about all of them. In fact, some research suggests that we invest 60% of our effort in maintaining relationships with only 15 friends.
Despite these figures, I can’t believe how much people in the College of Europe invest in and care about their fellow students.
Oxford College life did come very close to this. Nonetheless, I have honestly never been in a place where so very quickly so many meaningful and caring relationships with so many people have developed. After a week at home, missing the study trip, arriving back on campus was a daunting prospect, but I was met with huge smiles and hugs.
It has been fantastic to hear the stories of the trip – from the good ones, to the perhaps a bit more strained (freedom of movement having been literally pushed to the limit by students physically forcing the bus across the Ukrainian border!)
I was also incredibly touched by how despite not being there, so many people sent me messages and thoughts during their trip. Thanks to Roman, Ronan, Fabienne and Claude, I’ve also been able to enjoy Ukraine a bit more physically: I’m not appreciating the Ukrainian cold but can definitely feel the warmth of some beautiful wool socks, chocolate and tea! I really hope I can give something back soon.
It definitely wasn’t Ukrainian but we did enjoy a fabulous afternoon tea in our new non-study room this afternoon. Everyone is a bit weary from their intensive week, and yet they still took the time out from catching-up on work to sit and enjoy the goodies I’d brought back. And there were no jokes about the food being both British and good!!
Perhaps it is the fact that we are all in such close proximity all the time, and that we are put through such an intensive programme of work that we have all become so close and like a true (very big) ‘little family’. But I don’t think it can just be that. People are really united by a sense of common-purpose and friendship. They are intelligent, driven and mature (yes, even on Friday nights down the bar…) and maybe that is contributing factor. But that magic touch? I think it is a realisation that we are stronger if we support each other and a real community where everyone wants to see the best in everyone less.