making-friends

Tips for Making Friends First Semester

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College is one of the greatest places to meet lifelong friends. But when I arrived on campus, I found myself asking the question, “How do I actually make friends?” College is filled with a whole different rhythm of life, and the first semester can be one of the most stressful, making the idea of building friendships seem overwhelming. 

Since surviving that first semester and making some friends by the end of it, I learned some things that I’d like to pass along to you. It’s my hope these help you have a ton of fun your first semester and set you up for great friendships for years to come.

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Go Out on a Limb and Introduce Yourself

Coming to college you’ll find that everyone is in the same exact place you are: excited, anxious, and looking to make connections. Chances are that people are just waiting for someone like you to walk up and say, “Hi! My name is (Abby), what’s yours? Where are you from? What are you studying? ”Everyone is waiting for someone to initiate a conversation to get a friendship going, and if you make yourself that person you are setting yourself up to be surrounded by friendly faces who want to get to know you as well.

So, make it a goal to introduce yourself to everyone on your floor, in your classes, or in line with you at the cafeteria. You’ll find that the more faces and names you know, the more connections you’ll make and the odds of finding a couple best friends increases exponentially.

Keep Your Dorm Door Open

During my freshman year, after I was finished with homework, I would grab a few decks of cards and games and just lay them on my desk or the lobby coffee table in my dorm. I would ask anyone who walked by if they wanted to play. Without fail, every single person I asked would say “yes” and join me at some point that night for games. 

By the end of the night I would have groups of people with me shouting, laughing and trash-talking as we all struggled to win different games. Through leaving my door open, literally and figuratively, I actually met one of my best friends, and we continue the tradition of making UNO one of the most intense games anyone has ever played.

Whether you’re living on or off campus, it’s super easy to get back to your room after classes and check out for the day, close your door, and do homework or watch Netflix. But don’t do it! Those times that you are ready to just chill are the perfect opportunities to leave your door open. Let people peek their heads in and then you can invite them to hang out.

 

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Say ‘Yes’ More Than You Say ‘No’

In November of my first semester, one icy Tuesday night after I had finished my homework and hopped out of the shower, my phone rang. It was my roommate who had disappeared while I was showering, so I picked up. Urgently, she said, “Hey, I need your help. Meet me behind the gym ASAP. And hurry!”

Thinking this must be some sort of an emergency, I threw on sandals and sprinted out of our room in shorts and a tank top. When I finally made it to her, she was pressed against the back wall of the gym urgently waiving me over. Seeing her there, I naturally took the same suspicious position against the wall next to her and asked her what was wrong.

She turned to me and said in a low voice, “Nothing is wrong, but I need you to help. I saw a pile of cardboard boxes around the corner and we need them to make a fort in our room! But, there are too many for me to carry, and I think people might be watching us, so we have to be stealthy. Will you help?”

And with one word, I transformed not only my entire night (which turned into a dance party and late-night Taco Bell run with a bunch of friends) but also my entire semester. Saying “yes” meant I created one of my most memorable experiences with a friend I still love today, and it made me realize how much fun can come from picking up the phone and being open to spontaneity.

But Be Flexible Too

While saying “yes” is great advice to making friends and also having a ton of fun in college, being flexible with your plans and OK when things don’t go your way is another big part of it.

There will always be those moments or days when you invite people to hang out or say “yes” to your friends’ seemingly random requests and the outcome is totally not what you expected or maybe even wanted. If you’re able to come into situations with flexibility, you will be a better friend and better for it. 

And Remember, Self-Care Is Important

Finally, in any advice ever given for coming to college, there might not be anything as important as taking care of yourself. By this, I mean to say put your needs and health before anyone else’s.

When you have an intense week of school and you’re brain dead from studying, you don’t have to say “yes.” Instead, take the night to decompress, take a hot shower, change into sweats, climb into bed and watch your favorite guilty-pleasure TV show. You’re a better friend when you take care of yourself, and sometimes that means knowing when to say no. It might be hard at first, especially when you’re in the process of building new friendships, but finding that time is important because it truly does pay off in the end.

 

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Finally, no matter what university you end up going to, you will find your people. Your methods for making friends can vary, but if you try introducing yourself, keeping your door open, saying “yes”, being flexible, and taking care of yourself, you’ll be well on your way. Just don’t forget the most important tip of all: Have fun!

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Abby Wright

Author

Abby is from Snohomish, WA, and is a senior psychology major at George Fox. She has a passion for all food and spends most of her time hanging out with friends and as a volunteer youth worker. While she doesn't have time to watch much TV, she makes exceptions for episodes of Psych, Parks and Rec, and Lost.

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