The long stretch of winter break is a great time to reflect on the past semester. Some of you, especially first-year students, may feel like you still haven’t found your “niche” or social support group of close friends. Or, you may feel that you are too close to a certain group of people and want to branch out more. When I plan out my new year’s resolutions, I always write something socially-related and vague like, “make new friends” or “be friendly.” However, years of trying to fulfill these resolutions have taught me that changing social behavior can be difficult without consciously incorporating different techniques. So, I present to you five suggestions, collected from the Peer Advisors, of easy ways to make connections next semester.
1. Leave your door open (when you can)
This sounds like the simplest thing but it will make a huge difference in how approachable you are to your hallmates. For those times when you’re just hanging out in your room or shooting the breeze with your roommate, prop the door open with a chair or door stop and other people walking by are far more likely to stop by your room and chat with you. You’re also doing a service to the other people on your hall who want to be social but wouldn’t want to just go around knocking on closed doors. Who knows- you might even change the culture of your hall by starting a new trend!
2. Join a new student group or get involved in a new activity
This is the traditional nugget of wisdom that your parents are always telling you, but it’s also important to keep in mind that not all student groups are necessarily social opportunities. Some activities are better for making friends than others, and this is something you could easily find out by asking someone who’s in the group.
For example, one activity highly recommended by Peer Advisor Cynthia Tong is the Terpsichore dance show, or “terp,” which is held once a semester. This is a great opportunity for people of all dance levels because everyone who tries out is placed into one of the dances. Plus, what’s better bonding than repeatedly dancing closely and sweatily to expertly coordinated moves?
If you’re thinking of joining something new, you should check out the student groups fair that will be held next semester (date still pending).
3. Take advantage of new classes as an opportunity to make new friends
The first week of classes is the perfect opportunity to meet new people. Chat with whoever you’re sitting next to, ask for their numbers, and then—when the time is right—invite them to hang out. This can be as simple as inviting them to go with you to events that are related to the class or something else they might be interested in. This may seem daring, but just go for it. Chances are, they’ll be thrilled that someone is being so friendly and will be equally excited to hang out with someone new. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you can extend this attitude more generally and ask for people’s numbers anywhere you have a good conversation, like on a long Usdan line or at a party.
4. Ask a professor (and new class friend) out to lunch
Take advantage of the Daniel Family Commons Free Lunch Program to take your professor and your new class friend(s) out to lunch! These vouchers cover the cost of lunch for a faculty member and up to three students, or you can just go with your professor on a lunch date. Since asking a professor out to lunch on your own can be intimidating, inviting a friend from class can ease the awkwardness and give you something to bond over (“I can’t believe we just had lunch with professor x!!!”) It’s also a great way to connect with a professor you like and to get to know them in a smaller, cozier setting. To pick up a voucher, visit Dean Mike Whaley’s office at 220 North College. Did I mention it’s free food?
5. Do the crossword in public
This unusual suggestion comes from old-timer Peer Advisor Faisal Kirdar. He’s found that doing the crossword in a public place, like Usdan or Pi, is a great way to meet new people. Since so many of us college folk are into crosswords, you’re likely to find someone eager to collaborate. Although I’m not into crosswords myself, I have witnessed many interactions occur through the magic of the crossword puzzle.
Hope you’ve found some of these suggestions helpful, and feel free to post your own tips in the comments. Happy New Year!!!