In the fall, just like the rest of you, I will walk into my 8 a.m. class (maybe some of you are luckier) as a first-time college student. Except, I’m a little bit of a cheater because I’ve actually already had that first-day experience one year ago.
I was a high school senior that took a college-level Spanish class for one day only (because of a schedule change), a fact that I was trying to hide from what I assumed would be 30 other cool, well-adjusted, relaxed college freshmen. Surprisingly, I probably ended up being one of the least nervous people sitting in class that day.
As it turns out, despite your roommate and the 10 other new best friends you gather between move-in and 8 a.m. Monday, you’re probably not going to know anyone when you start that first class (unless you somehow managed to meet and remember every student in the school over Welcome Week). This shouldn’t scare you. This should make you jump up and down, do your crazy dance and sing loudly (not in the common bathroom at 6 a.m. please). Bottom line: this is one of the most exciting, lucky parts of being a freshman in college.
No, I’m not crazy. You know all those people that called college, “a time to reinvent yourself” that you also called crazy, but secretly hoped were right? Well, wake up the daydreaming optimist inside of you because the first moment you step into the quiet hall of awkward 18 year olds begging for class to start and the silence to end is your time!
Have you ever seen someone you really think you’d get along with, but they’re completely surrounded by a clique already? Unless you are in some weird, outlier class full of kids from one high school, that’s all completely gone now. Seriously. Pick a person, introduce yourself and talk. I chose one girl to talk to when no one else would speak and suddenly we had two other girls talking to us. By the time class started, we had each other’s numbers and were already talking like friends (they probably think I died or something after that, come to think of it). Not that you have to have a connection with someone instantly. You won’t click with everyone. But, the most important thing I learned on my first day of college (OK, wait, my only day of college) was that you have nothing to lose by talking to anyone that you want to.
This moment fades fast. It gets harder and harder to break the silence the more time you spend talking yourself out of it or avoiding it. In the following years and semesters, you’ll still have a chance to meet new people, but the common uncertainty and feeling of being in uncharted territory makes this the easiest time.
So try it and try it right away. On your first day talk to as many new people as possible, or at least one new person.
Start with “hi” and your name. Even just a smile and a wave could be enough for another person to come to you and start the conversation. If you want to make friends really fast, bring a pack of gum.
In the nature of preparing you for school a little bit early, (it’s been a long summer) I’ll leave you with a quote from Francesco Guicciardini (look him up and impress your history professor): “Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them”.
Lead Image Credit: Disney Channel, Salty Pictures and First Street Films