For many, starting college can be a difficult and lonely time. Here, Katie Lalwani provides a few practical tips for making lifelong friends at college.
In an ideal world, making friends would be as simple as following a cake recipe. Just follow the directions and you can’t really go wrong. As we all know, however, this isn’t always the case.
In reality, getting to know new people can be a daunting experience. There is no failsafe set of instructions. That being said, there are a number of things that can be done to make the process that little bit easier. Here are some handy tips to help you along.
- Speak to the Person Next to You
Starting a conversation with a complete stranger can be pretty daunting. Take the initiative. It can feel awkward and first and you may worry that you’re annoying the other person. On the other hand, you could be helping out someone who is also finding it too difficult to strike a conversation. Just give it a go. Who knows. You could be sitting beside your best friend for life.
Knowing some conversation starters can really take the pressure off chatting to new people and prevent too many awkward silences. There’s the obvious ones: what subject you’re studying, where you come from etc. The weather is always an easy topic (and very Irish).
Complimenting someone never hurt. This could be their nice outfit, lovely handwriting whatever really, but make sure it’s genuine.
If all else fails, try something weird and wonderful. For example: ‘Would you rather have arms for legs or legs for arms?’. You’ll at least get a bemused smirk!
- Ditch the Phone
I know when I get shy, I reach for my mobile and pretend to browse something interesting. It seems a far safer option than standing there looking awkward. But this can work as a barrier between you and potential new buddies. You might as well wear a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign around your neck. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and put your phone away. Make yourself approachable. And if you don’t find anyone approaching you for a chat, take the initiative and strike up a convo yourself.
- Sign up to Join Clubs and Societies
Whether you can recite every line in the Harry Potter books, have an unhealthy obsession with anime, or you sleep eat and breathe Dungeons and Dragons, there’s guaranteed to be a society for that.
It’s in these college societies that the tens of thousands of students, become a smaller, tight knit community. This is a far more comfortable environment to meet potential new friends with the added bonus of all sharing a common interest. Same goes for sports clubs. A chance to meet others and burn off all that free pizza. A win-win situation if there ever was one.
- Get Involved
You might sign up to the clubs and societies, but that’s meaningless if you don’t actually take part in the activities on offer. Freshers’ Week offers ample opportunity to take part in activities and meet likeminded peers. It’s perfectly fine to go alone too. If you’re nervous about talking to others, try chatting to the organisers. Ask questions about the society, when it meets, activities they organise, if they go on any trips. This is a good way of building up confidence. Maybe you’ll find the society just isn’t for you. That’s perfectly okay. The week is all about experimenting and finding out new things about yourself.
If after the first few weeks of college pass and you still feel like you’ve not made any solid friendships, don’t fret. You’re certainly not the only one. True friendships don’t form overnight. The most important thing to remember is, no matter what, you should always keep trying. I know this is very easy to say and how disheartening it is when you make an effort and things don’t work out. But if you don’t try, you can’t really succeed.