College Q&A: I Need Friends

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College. Sigh. It’s unlike any other time in your life. It has its own set of rules, its own unique circumstances. And it’s not always easy to navigate. Everyone needs a little guidance now and then (or always) so we’ve pulled together a variety of perspectives (the does-it-all girl, the party girl and Ms. Study Lounge) to weigh in on your life conundrums and give you the best advice we can.

Every week they’ll be tackling your questions about college. From classes to keggers to keggers before classes, they’ll do their best to respond and be your Pez dispenser of collegiate wisdom. Got questions? Unsure of a decision? Need to save some dough? Just wanna chat it up with some really awesome chics?

Hit them up in the comments or shoot them an email with the subject “College Q&A”!

Question:
I’m just about to transfer to a much larger school for the spring semester, after commuting to school for two and a half years (I’m a junior now) and I’m REALLY scared about making friends. I’ve always had some difficulty with making them, since I’m pretty shy and socially awkward. Having friends isn’t impossible, but now that I’m going away to a huge school of 44,000 students, it’s a bit intimidating. Do you have any advice on making new friends mid-year? I’m sorta freaking out.

Busy Bee:
First things first, have no fear – you WILL make friends! I know what it’s like to be the ‘new kid’, but it’s also a different story when you’re the new kid in a school of 44,000. The fact that you’re going to a school with so many people, you won’t have any problems fitting in. I’ve noticed that college is different from high school in that there really are no cliques or pressures to be a part of a certain group. You can be whoever you want and hang out with as many or few people as you want.

Now that you’ve realized this, go ahead and try something new. Take this opportunity to join a new club (some clubs recruit at the beginning of each semester) or find an on-campus job (this will allow you to befriend the cute regulars!). If you’re not up for busy-ing yourself just yet, try talking to the people sitting around you before classes. Even if you don’t end up as BFF’s, it’ll break you out of your shell. Plus, you gotta start buddying up for notes on days that you may sleep through class! Be open to group study sessions, random hangouts, and last-minute party invitations. I know you’re shy, but this could be your break-through semester.

Party Girl:
No matter how outgoing or introverted a person may be, they all have had that nauseating fear that they won’t make friends in a new place. However, they are not in the golden position in which you now find yourself! You’re jumping in the middle of a social jackpot – 44,000 potential new friends. And you can never underestimate the ultimate social lubricant that flows freely through any college campus (except those weird dry ones): alcohol. Alcohol is the ultimate handshake! Through mojitos and games of beer pong, you’ll find yourself bonding with people of all sorts. Not to mention those people in your classes with whom you commiserate over mountains of homework. Trust me, “socially awkward” doesn’t exist in college. You just need a couple more drinks.

GPA Girl:
It’s so funny how we pretend as if making friends is only a problem elementary schoolers could ever have. In reality, it’s something most people have to deal with for their whole lives! Especially the shy. I hear you there, sister. Here are a few tips I’ve put to use over the years to make friends with new people in new places:

1) Join activities and clubs, even if they cost a little bit of money. Go to events that really interest you. These things are all automatic ins for finding like-minded people who have interests that mirror yours. Don’t worry about going to these things mid-year – the people there will probably be thrilled to have some new blood. Above all, do NOT talk yourself out of going to these things.
2) Boost your confidence by reminding yourself that you are a wonderful and interesting person. Yes, I’m serious. Every time you’re tempted to approach somebody new, take a deep breath first. In your head, say, “I’m interesting and I’m cool, and people want me as their friend.” Then say something. Even if it just ends at hi, force yourself to say something. If nothing clicks with that person, so what? Do it again tomorrow.
3) Find a couple of haunts that really appeal to you, and park there often. These places might be the on-campus coffee shop or the study lounge at the library or the malt shop just off campus -it doesn’t matter where – they are all good places to meet other people. Make sure you like them, because you’ll want to spend a lot of time in them so you can feel really comfortable there. Once you feel as if you belong, it’ll be easier to approach other people who end up there, since it will be like approaching them on “your” territory.
4) Be yourself. Sounds stupid, but it’s true. There are a zillion quirky things about you that your current friends and family love, and even though those are exactly the things you’d be tempted to hide from new people, they are really the things you should go out of your way to project. Those traits make you unique and attractive. Show them off!

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