I've done it plenty of times before, and however you meet there's generally something to unite you - a school program, a shared interest, alcohol, caffeine, etc. But in recent years my experience entering a new world like this has been a bit different: the only thing you walk in knowing about each other is one of the most personal and painful things you've ever experienced. So...you're kind of starting off with the walls down. Or you can try to keep them up, but eventually you will crack and someone will be there to perfectly understand and let you cry it out.
Here you uncover people layer by layer, or in the case of very open people, all at once - both are fun in their different ways. Whereas in treatment friendship was built from inner turmoil, here it's built from external interests. Not a bad thing at all (in fact, probably a lot more common). But my emotional walls are understandably still up, even as my intellectual (nerd) walls are nonexistent. Sometimes you don't want to delve in to the past because it's too exhausting to explain. And sometimes you just need that instant emotional - so unlike intellectual - understanding from someone who knows the whole story: yes, exactly.
Love love love,
P.S. I wrote this post a few weeks ago, when the making-friends thing was far fresher than it is now. I have met fantastic people here, and hope to keep doing so! I'd also like to add that I am incredibly, over-the-moon grateful for the 'old' friends (and family) I've been keeping in touch with from home. I wasn't sure what to expect given the distance, but the many modes of online communication have been wonderful, and the extra love in my sign off is for you. :)