Fifty Best Friends are Better than One by Paityn Wedder

After a stressful day of traveling on August 25th, you make your way off your last Pineapple Air flight and feel the unfamiliar Bahamian sunshine against your skin. Everything around you is new; the environment, the culture, and especially the people. Although you’ve had a few conversations with students wearing the recognizable Island School uniform earlier in the airport, no matter how hard you try, it is still impossible to associate faces with names. Before you have any time to realize what’s going on, a teacher comes up to you and says, “Welcome to the Island School! Please turn in your passport and cell phone.” You reach into your pocket and reluctantly hand over what was requested. With the zip of a plastic bag, your material connection to the United States is gone.

During the first few weeks, the dorm is filled with cheerful voices and positivity, but nobody knows each other on a personal level yet. You reach your hand down into your pocket to grab your phone and text your best friend about this new lifestyle, but nothing is there and you remember the only way you’ll be able to reach her until December is by mail. Sending a letter takes about a month, and receiving one takes another. This is discouraging; you miss having meaningful conversations and the sense of security that comes with an established friend group. On top of that, living in a dorm with twenty-eight other girls is nowhere near similar to living in your house with your parents and siblings. A wave of homesickness begins to form, and even though you are constantly surrounded by people, you start to feel alone. You look around at the people who will be your new classmates for the next three and a half months, and then it hits you. These students came from all over the United States and The Bahamas; everyone is in the same position you are in. Everybody was accepted into this semester for a reason.

Once you have this realization, you begin to feel more comfortable and reassured. No distinct friend groups start to form because everyone here gets along. Each individual is unique in his or her own way; getting to know everybody, therefore, is worth your time. The entire community immediately becomes close, and those down to earth conversations you’ve been craving for so long now happen on a daily basis. The adventures you experience together create memories that simply seem like a fun time now, but will become lifelong memories once the semester ends. Soon, you forget about your phone and in some odd way, don’t want to be connected to the outside world anymore. You’ll have the life you’ve always lived waiting for you in December, but in less than one hundred days, you’ll be separated from the most interesting people you’ve ever met by thousands of miles… No matter what, these friendships will always be worth the distance; fifty best friends will always be better than one.