Adjusting to your new life away at school can be very overwhelming whether you’re a freshmen or transfer student. You’re in a brand new environment and you don’t know anybody. For some people this is a beautiful opportunity to make new friends and connections where as for others this can be a little frightening. If you already have friends from home that go to the same school as you that’s great, but don’t let that stop you from making new friends. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stray away from your comfort zone and immerse yourself in to new situations. Staying in your comfort zone will only make things worse for you. Going away to school is one of the best opportunities you can give to yourself.
Having a good roommate is one of the keys to getting acclimated to your new environment. Ideally you want a roommate that you get along with and someone you can bond with. Having a good roommate will make your transition to your new life that much easier. Life is going to put obstacles in your way, some days you might be stressed or maybe you’re just getting out of a long-term relationship. Either way it’s good to have someone to talk to and who better than the person that you’re living with. On the other hand if you end up with a roommate who is your total opposite and you conflict with, you have two choices; you can stick it out for the year or take a gamble and make a request for a new roommate. If all else fails take a walk over to your Residential Assistant (RA) and see if they have any social events planned for your hall. Socials are a great way to meet people in your hall especially if you are not getting along with your roommate; you can always just take a walk over to the next room and surround yourself with good people. Despite the reputation the RA’s have been given, they are not out to get you in to trouble. They are there to help you whether it is helping find a solution to a roommate situation or if you just need someone to talk to because you’re having a bad day.
The next step to getting acclimated is to try and join a group. If hallway socials aren’t your thing, then join a club. Clubs are a phenomenal way to meet people that have the same common interest as you. Most universities have clubs for anything that you might be interested in, whether it be different ethnicities or activities such as sports, art, math, you name it and most likely you can find it. If worse comes to worse and they don’t have what you are looking for, try to start your own club. See if your graduating class has a social media page and make a post. If you’re feeling audacious enough, go room to room and ask people if they would be interested in joining something that you’ve come up with and have them sign a contact sheet with their name and email. Who knows you might just be the one to start a new trend at your school, but you wont know unless you try.
The next step is to start talking to people your classes. You’re all being handed the same work, and the same tests so why not ask the person next to you what they thought of the test or the previous nights homework? Don’t be afraid, people don’t bite and they might just be in the same boat as you. Exchange numbers with them, and try to get a study group going. If it’s a class for your major, then you’re really in luck because right there is a common interest that you all share. Especially if the professor is not an easy one, then having people you can talk to and collaborate with is a great way to bring yourself out of your shell and communicate.
If all of the above fail, then you can try and join a fraternity or sorority. If you plan on joining, you have to find out when “Rush Week” is. “Rush Week” is a really easy and fast way to get your name out there and to meet new people that may or may not have common interests as you. During this week the fraternities and sororities will talk to you throughout the parties and will weed out who they want to have pledge for them. If they decide they want you to pledge for them, you will be handed a bid. A bid is essentially giving you spot in the fraternity or sorority, once they give it to you they can’t take it back and at that point you’re almost in the clear. A warning though: pledge week has been dubbed “Hell Week” for a reason. It’s been put on this list last for a reason. Hazing and malicious activity has been known to happen in many fraternities and sororities such as binge drinking, foul play and eating vile concoctions. As a pledge you are basically at their mercy until you are inducted into the group you have been pledging for. Before you rush make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. While they are a great way to make connections for potential jobs in the future, at the same time you are sacrificing a lot just to be able to wear those letters across your chest. Once you’re in though the hazing ends and you will have people you can call you “Brother” or “Sister” for the rest of your life. Don’t make joining a priority though; try and see if you can make friends on your own that have common interests as you besides wanting to go out and party every night. With that being said, also keep in mind they are not free; you do have dues you have to pay and events that you might have to go out of your way to promote.
Just remember to be yourself no matter what and do what makes you happy. Staying in your shell and being a hermit is no way to spend your college years. Go out and express yourself. Expression of self is a beautiful thing and as long as you make yourself out going and do what brings you joy the pursuit of making friends will surely follow. Keep in mind there are a lot of people in the same boat, as you so don’t fret. You will find your way. That is my promise to you.