Although it sounds cliched, college is an important time for self-discovery. It is probably the first time you find yourself living on your own. You have sole responsibility for all your triumphs or failures (of which there will be a few). College is one of the rare opportunities when you are living, working and socializing with the people who are likely to become your friends for life. However, if you are not adept at socializing to start out with this can seem a daunting task. The first thing to remember is that you are not alone. Everyone is nervous at the start of university. It’s just that we all have different ways of compensating for that initial apprehension. For some, they present the most exaggerated version of themselves to get attention. Others may get overwhelmed and retreat into themselves. Making friends is an important part of successful studying at the university, just like writing essays or passing exams. So, we have outlined a few helpful tips and tricks for even the shyest of introverts.
Conquer Small Talk
If you cannot imagine anything worse than small talk, avoid it (who really cares that much about the weather anyway?). Find a club, society or event that you are interested in et voila, instant common ground. It may not seem like the most adventurous way to make friends, but it is an excellent place to get started. Make sure you don’t corner one person the whole time but try introducing yourself to others in the group. You don’t need to stress about what you are going to say. You already know a tiny bit about them by the fact that they are there.
Places To Meet People
- At a sporting event
- A themed movie night
- On a tour of your new city
- At your local coffee shop
Now you have stretched your socializing skills it’s time for the next step. Find a group that does an activity you want to try rather than one you already do. This may seem a bit more challenging, but the same principles apply as before. Remember, people love being asked questions about themselves. In this case, you should be interested in what they have to say.
Avoid Snap Judgements
Remember what we said earlier about different people compensating for nerves in different ways? This is especially relevant when making friends at college. Is the girl you sit next to in lectures seems a bit too bubbly for you? Consider that her extreme exuberance might just be a coping mechanism. Give her a chance. If after a few weeks she remains as overwhelming as ever you can walk away knowing that you didn’t miss an opportunity for a friendship.
It’s About Connections
University is a spider web of social opportunities. Before you count out a potential friend consider carefully. Do they have a group of friends they could introduce you to? Don’t be afraid to tag along. You may happen to like their friends more than you like them…
Stay True to You
As important as it is to step outside of your comfort zone, you will never make true and lasting friendships if you do not remain true to yourself. If you value alone time to contemplate and recharge, don’t be afraid to take it. By constantly forcing yourself into social situations you will only end up burning yourself out. It is okay to value quality over quantity when it comes to making friends at university.
Utilize Your Location
The location is essential when starting out at college. If you struggle with socializing, try not to opt for off-campus housing as this will only give you an excuse to stay in. Choose a dorm that is in the thick of the action. This will make it harder for you to justify excluding yourself from activities. Of course, you can still retreat to your oasis of calm when things get too much. But, by living in a busy area, you will be exposed to more events (some of which you may just enjoy). It will also come in handy when suggesting meetups as you’ll be an expert on the best campus coffee houses.
Face to Face
People remember faces. Start to frequent the places where you had the most luck meeting people whether it’s the tennis club or the poetry cafe? By showing up, you will start to feel comfortable with the group. They will also start to feel comfortable with you. Friendship goes both ways. Instead of hiding in the back of the lecture hall, try sitting next to the guy you met yesterday. You may not be best pals but being open and welcoming is the first step towards making friends.
You know the date movie cliche where the guy says he’ll call but never does? The same holds true for friendships. Once you have established a rapport with someone, try to make plans to hang out again. This could be as simple as, ‘will you be at the lecture tomorrow?’. Or, you could be a bit more adventurous: ‘I was thinking about going to the football match tomorrow if you want to join?’. The key is not to let all that hard work socializing go to waste. You will never become friends if you never see each other again. The process of making friends can seem exhausting and frankly hard work. Luckily, good friends will make your life easier. They will help you through that tricky final exam or take you to your first jazz concert. By employing a few of these tactics, you will be well on your way to building a group of genuine friends who support you and enrich your college experience. So, try not to be daunted by small talk and remember to keep an open mind and allow relationships develop over time. If you let your personality shine through you will discover friends who like you for you. It is time to get out of your comfort zone. I have put the strategies in place, but the rest is up to you…