Starting at college can be an intimidating experience. You're in a new place, and you don't know how to get to your classes or work the printers or even find the trash chute in your dorm. What makes it worse is that sometimes, it can feel as though you're experiencing all of these struggles on your own. Here are a few ways to meet some other people who are having the same struggles, so that you can be a little less scared about the great wide unknown that is college.
1. Study in a social space.
Maybe don't do this if you actually have serious work to do, but if you just have some easy reading or maybe even some homework you wouldn't mind working with a group on, set yourself up on the "social" floor of the library, or in a student lounge. It will invite people to come join you, and you can bond over how hard a class is or professors you have in common.
2. Post public invitations to your outings.
For a lot of college students, you'll be living in a new city or an unfamiliar place. Take advantage of this! Post a flyer inviting other students to go on an outing to a landmark or a restaurant with you. You can make new friends and become more familiar with your new city.
3. Use social media to your advantage.
Yes, it may feel a little bit like you're being a stalker, but try not to think about that. Find some of your classmates on Facebook or Instagram and initiate a conversation. Something along the lines of "Hey, I think we share this class together," or "I recognize you from the dorm room across the hall." A lot of colleges also have Facebook groups for their freshman class, where people can share questions and any interests they plan on pursuing in college.
4. Don't forget about the common room.
It's not just for Harry Potter, folks. The common room is a great tool to meet new people, and all you have to do is settle down in a comfy chair and find some way to pass the time until someone wanders in. Remember that there are tons of other new students who are also looking to make friends, so don't feel awkward or self-conscious about making yourself available for interactions.
5. Keep up with public events.
Colleges have tons of special events for new students. There are things like capture the flag, ice cream socials and even just new student orientation. Look for events sent to your email or posted on a public bulletin board, and make sure you go to a few. If nothing else, you'll put off an hour or two of homework.
6. Ask questions in class.
You'd be surprised how many people have the same questions as you in your classes. If you're the one to raise it to the professor, it's a great opener for others to interact with you. "Thank God you asked that," or "I was just wondering the same thing" are the types of responses that could come out of it. Or, if you're not the questioning type, say something to others who are.
7. Elevator pitch.
I don't mean the 30-second pitch you use to introduce yourself to professionals and possible employers. Rather, I literally mean a pitch you give in the elevator. If you're stuck in there with at least one other person, you guys have nothing to do but talk to each other. Introduce yourself, ask about where they're from, what floor they're on, why they're carrying a funny-shaped package, anything. It'll make for one more familiar face in the hallways.
8. Talk to people.
The most simple, straightforward way to meet new people. Start a conversation with the person behind you in line or next to you in class, comment on a shirt someone's wearing, offer up a spare pen or roll of duct tape (a dorm necessity). Yes, it will be awkward. Just remember that you have to get past that awkward phase to reach the friend phase.
Most importantly, remember that everyone else is as awkward and nervous as you are. Nothing bad will happen from you going up and talking to them. You could meet some of the best friends of your life, and make some of the greatest memories, all from saying that first "hello."
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