College is full of opportunities to explore interests and yourself. Not to mention, new people! There are so many different people with unique backgrounds. Sure, college is for learning and taking advantage of the opportunities, but a huge part of college is the people you meet. They can end up being your best friend, a study buddy, or even more extreme, your future wife (or husband)! Most important, you find your community or your ‘tribe’.
The difference about making friends in college and making friends in high school is that you have to put forth the effort to go out and talk to them. In high school, you are with the same people, stuck in the same building, for 8 hours. Usually that leads to a friendship of some extent. In college, that ‘I’ll wait until he/she starts the conversation’ attitude you had in high school will not be so effective. In order to meet people, you have to take the first step.
There are a few different ways of taking the first step. The first option is just a simple ‘hello’ or ‘hey’ as you walk by or see them in class. Sure, you might not start a conversation right away, but good things take time!
Another way is to ask them about their major. What are their interests? What activities are they in outside of class? This will for sure start the conversation, and then you can take it from there.
The final way, which is the most courageous, is just go up and talk to them. Whether they are a completely new person, a familiar face, or a person from your floor, start the conversation.
A good tip for motivation is to remember that everyone is in the same, awkward boat as you are. Don’t feel like you are the only shy person on campus. College is new, the campus is new, and yes, so are the people.
What has worked for me? Well, I like to think I have a pretty dry sense of humor. Surprisingly a lot of other people do to. I always crack a joke or two in a group full of new people, and I get a few laughs here or there. That ends up being the way to start the conversation.
Don’t get me wrong, you will fail a couple of times. There was this one girl on my floor that I met, and I could not get her name right if it was spelled out on her forehead. I felt so bad and blushed right away, and she knew that I was truly trying to remember. You meet a lot of new people, so that means new names to match with new faces. I have finally got her name down, and it is week seven of classes.
You have to remember that everyone is different. Not everyone is up to talking right away. It may take a few walk-by’s, a conversation, or a couple of ‘hey’s to get them warmed up to you. AND THAT IS OKAY! Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t want to talk, after all, they may have something going on and talking to a new person may not be a huge priority to them at the moment.
Overall, the people I’ve met at the University of Iowa have been some of the most caring, helpful, and fun people I have ever met. It has only been 8 weeks since I have moved in and I feel like I have some friends that I could go to if I ever needed anything.
Your floor may or not be social right away. For example, my floor (Catlett Floor 6 Green) wasn’t very social for the first couple of weeks. I was kind of upset because when I imagined college, I always saw a close-knit family feeling when talking about my floor. For the first couple of weeks, we kind of did our own thing and minded our own business.
We finally start to kind of act like a community now. We mostly have our doors open all the time, letting the neighbors know we are able to chat about whatever. Whether that be homework or just about our lives before college, we always have something to talk about.
Speaking of neighbors, Bryan (my roommate) and I received some new neighbors a couple of weeks ago. They lived on the same floor prior to moving across the hallway, but we never really got to talk to them much. Once they moved in across from us, we always chat for a bit. They have a whiteboard on their door that always wants some song suggestions, so I always write one. I think I recommended ’22’ or whatever by Taylor Swift. NO, I AM NOT A T-SWIFT FAN. They wanted Taylor Swift songs so that was the only one I could really remember. They also don’t have a microwave so Bryan and I are now allowing them to use our microwave, all they have to do is ask. So, Sid and Taylor, if you are reading this, you are some great neighbors!
As for Catlett Floor 6 Green, you all have started to make this place feel like a true home. If you are reading this, I appreciate you and if you ever need anything 690 is always open, well, if we aren’t in class that is.
Okay, I got a little off track. But, the main point of this post is to tell you that yes, it is more of a challenge to make friends in college. Everyone has their own schedule and everyone is so busy. You can do little things like ask for their Snapchat or just ask them to go get lunch with you. Everyone is trying to find their place, their people, and themselves. As one of my biggest role models, Ms. G from high school that passed away a year ago, said, “Find your tribe, and love them hard.” That cannot be more true for college. There are people for you here, really anywhere you go. They are waiting for you to introduce yourself. It is okay to be nervous, but at the end of the day, everyone is in the same position you are. Just give the effort to make friends and those friends will give right back.