At 2:30 a.m., on the couches of a Davenport suite, my friends and I were reflecting on how we got to know one another, and how we got to know our other close friends. My friend Ian said something that is now stuck in my brain, which I remember as “you NEVER develop deep connections INTENTIONALLY.” 

I froze, and a “huh…” flew out almost instantly. I started going through my friends in my brain. 

Mark, my best friend from my first high school, and I have been friends for about seven years now, and we recently went to the Arctic Circle together. How did we become friends? 

We randomly became roommates, and out of all of our roommates, we were the only two from the same grade, and we shared much more in common outside school compared to our other two roommates. 

I can’t quite remember my first impression of Mark, nor how we got to start conversations, and certainly, I didn’t intentionally engage with him. I do remember a few shared experiences, many late-night conversations about girl trouble, our past, what we were going through, and our future, on the balcony, going to the mall on weekends, going on our graduation trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan province, where James Cameron filmed Avatar — in the Hallelujah Mountains, to be exact — and having heart-to-hearts over kebabs and beer. 

Kaija, my best friend from my second high school — switched from the British A-Level system to the American system when I decided I would rather attend college in America — is among my closest friends, and someone I would trust with my life too, and yet, just like Mark, Kaija is an introvert, while I am among the most extroverted people most of my friends know. 

If philosophy is the common language between me and Mark, Kaija and I have more mismatches that don’t explain our unlikely friendship: Kaija is an engineering and computer science major; I’m a humanities guy who sucks at math and coding. Kaija is from northern China, a region stereotyped as being more extroverted; I’m from southern China, a region known for being more introverted. Kaija studies in sunny Palo Alto; I study in, well, New Haven. 

I no longer recall how I felt when I initially saw Kaija, only remembering that I just thought we have really great study sessions and nerd out together over random things we find interesting, we have video calls a lot, we have both laughed at each other’s dry dad jokes, as well as seen each other’s tears of stress, pain, and loss. I also remember us roasting our psychology teacher together, and getting through reviewing his hundreds of pages of slides in that one cafe near our school and working on our college applications in that one blue-painted boba shop.  

My best friend from Yale-NUS, Jakob, is a computer science and quantum physics guy whose assignments will fry my brain cells faster than the protons traveling in the CERN LHC accelerator — a bit of an exaggeration, but the fact I know what the accelerator is and that it accelerates protons to travel at over 99.999999 percent the speed of light is evidence that this friendship has deeply changed me.

I don’t quite remember meeting Jakob, but he remembers one hilarious moment to this day: “So I first met Eric, and I asked if he was free to grab lunch and chat sometime, and Eric said give him a second to check his calendar, opened his Apple Watch, opened the calendar app, and scrolled through dozens and dozens of blocks, asking, 45 seconds later, if I was free next Saturday between 12:00 to 1:10 or something like that.” 

I still chuckle to this day. That’s still who I am: I’m a workaholic who, if I don’t schedule time specifically for friends, just won’t see them. 

But despite all this, I’ve been blessed with some of the most amazing human beings as my friends, as my good friends, and as my close friends. I remember a test my mom told me: Use your fingers and count, how many friends do you have that you can trust with your life? That is a heavy-hearted question, and honestly, most of the people I know I would not trust with that kind of test, but I am extremely blessed to be able to count a few friends with my fingers that I would trust this much. 

Interestingly, I did not approach any of them thinking I wanted to develop a trusting friendship with this person, or “let’s see if I could trust this person to a significant degree.” 

In life, we just ran into each other in this journey called life among billions of people, and for reasons not even clearly explainable by either of us, we built friendships. 

Perhaps the same applies to romantic relationships: so much of what we do in the romantic realm is based on intention, clear goals, objectives, and testing. Up until now, that has not served me or many of my friends too well. Maybe it’s time we apply what we do with close friendships to love, to other relationships in life, and see how it goes. 

Special thanks to my Dive Boyz — our nickname stems from the fact that our friendship stemmed from the Davenport buttery, “the Dive” — I love each one of you guys, and thank you all again for being my brothers at Yale and making my time here not only academically amazing but also socially spectacular. You all showed me that college is not just classes and preparation for “society,” that it is indeed “Bright College Years.” 

ERIC HU is a senior in Davenport and a third year at Yale-NUS. He can be reached at