Making Friends

COLLEGE LIFE AND NEW FRIENDS

College is a time of excitement, challenge and growth -- SOCIALLY as well as academically. But being in a new environment for the first time may not be an easy transition for everyone.  At first, it may be difficult to feel comfortable with your new peers.  For students who live on campus, you are put into a situation where it may seem a little easier to connect with others by the simple fact that you are living day in and day out with them, but this can also be overwhelming.  For commuter students, the challenge may be meeting people and staying connected. In either case, some students may find it difficult to make new friends.

Loneliness is a feeling that many encounter as they begin the transition to college. Fear is another feeling that students may experience.  Both of these emotions can actually keep you from getting out there and meeting people.  It is important to know that these feelings are normal -- so if you feel them, you may have to push yourself a little harder to do things.

There are lots of things to do on a college campus.  But even if you don't do something with someone else, you can always do something by yourself.  Who knows you may meet someone that way! Enjoying a hobby or activity by yourself can be very uplifting and help you to feel better.

Remember that college is your time to learn and experience new things.  You can make the most of it. You just may need a little assistance to get started.  The following are steps to consider when making friends.  There are also some guidelines to follow that you may find helpful.

A word of caution:  If you do not feel yourself, or if you feel very sad or depressed, there may be other factors involved that need to be addressed by a mental health professional.  You can call The Counseling Center (203)837-8690 if you feel any of these emotions are overwhelming to the point where you cannot manage them alone.

STEPS IN FRIENDSHIP MAKING

Meeting people can be looked at as a series of tasks.  There are certain things you can do to be successful at it. But it should not be looked at as a chore!  It is fun and exciting to meet new people.

Step One.  The first step is to be positive.  The more positive the energy you put out, the more likely you are to receive positive energy in return.  How can you put out positive energy? See step two.

Step Two.  RELAX and BE YOURSELF!  Trying to be different to please others compromises your individuality and your integrity.  Be proud of who you are.  We all have faults and things we may not like about ourselves.  We don't judge others nearly as harshly as we judge ourselves. So go easy on yourself.  People will like you for you, taking the good with the not so good. No one is perfect, so don't try to be!

And the more you are yourself, the more relaxed you will be, because you won't be focusing on what you think you should be doing. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to get along with and interact with others.

Step Three. Figure out who and what type of people you want to hang out with.  People generally connect with those who are most similar to themselves.  If you are athletic and like to either participate in or watch sports and you know of someone with similar interests, you may want to ask them to attend some games here at Southern with you.  Sharing similarities with people can be fun.  And, it usually allows you the opportunity to get to know someone a little better.  So try to think about who you are as a person, and what kind of friend you would like.  The better you know yourself, the better you will be able to identify what you will like in other people.

Step Four. Put yourself out there.  Get involved in activities and events that you enjoy. Chances are you'll meet people there who enjoy similar activities.  You have to go where people are in order to meet people!  Don't sit around waiting for them to come to you.  Join a club or organization.  Attend lectures and programs that seem interesting.  Go to university functions, like sporting events and socials.  Join a study group or go to the library.  The more chances you have to meet people, the better the odds will be that you will!

Step Five. Stay connected.  After you have met some people that you like and feel comfortable with, stay in contact with them.  You can call or visit on a regular basis.  You may have a regular meeting time based on a class or organization you are a part of with them.  During that time, you can make arrangements to do other things with them, or to call each other.  Pick up on their cues. If they call you back right away, or if they wait a week to get back to you, it may tell you what level of friendship they are looking for from you.  Here are some more guidelines you may want to follow in trying to meet new people.  Remember to have fun and enjoy yourself. Many times, the friends you make in college last a lifetime!

WHAT DO I SAY/DO?

Sometimes it's hard to think of things to say.  But generally, if you are in a particular setting you can talk about things specific to that setting.  For example, in class, you can talk about a particular assignment, "Where did you find information on our homework topic?"  In the residence halls, you can talk about classes, about living arrangements.  You can watch movies or TV together and talk about that, too.

Ask open-ended questions, as opposed to closed-ended questions.  An open-ended question is one where the person is asked a question that can't simply be answered by "yes" or "no". A closed-ended question is one that can be answered with "yes" or "no".  Examples: Closed-ended: "Did you go to the football game?" Open-ended: "What did you think of the football game?"

It's important not to force yourself to say something. Sometimes it's okay to be with people and not say anything.  Additionally, forcing yourself to do something that you normally would not do or you think is unsafe in any way, is not a good idea.  Everyone has values, opinions, and morals that they live by.  You have a right to yours and people will respect you for sticking to them (not to mention that you will respect yourself more!).

WHERE SHOULD I GO? (CAMPUS RESOURCES)

There are many places on campus to go and meet people. It may seem more difficult as a commuter student, but there are lots of things going on all over campus -- all the time! Read posters, and flyers that are posted. They are there for one reason -- YOU! Various organizations, departments and individuals plan activities for students to take advantage of every week. Most of the time they are free or at a reduced student fee, so all you have to do is show up!

Some ideas for you to get started:

  1. Check flyers and postings for upcoming events.
  2. Read the campus newspaper for programs and future happenings.
  3. Talk to classmates and floor mates or an RA to find out what is going on that you might be interested in.
  4. Visit the University Student Center -- there are always events and programs going on or being advertised there.
  5. Join a club or organization of interest to you - contact the Dean of Students or residence life for a list of campus groups.
  6. Listen to others talk -- no, not eavesdropping! When you are in conversation listen to what others have to say about what's going on around campus.

HOW CAN I BE A GOOD FRIEND?

Very simply -- by treating others the way you would like or expect to be treated. Be kind, polite and respectful of others. And if they are not the same in return, you may want to consider how true a friend this person really is.

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