For most people leaving school can be scary – and for some teenagers, it can be absolutely terrifying. Colleges take care to reassure us about the course, teachers and how to find your way around, but no one tells teens about the one thing they are scared of most: FRIENDSHIP.
As teenagers it’s true that we travel in packs. This means that for many of us college can be one of the first places we venture to completely alone. Throughout my teen years there were never many times you wouldn’t find one of my best friends within a meter away from me. So personally, having to come out of that comfort zone to college was definitely a fearful change.
Much like love, attraction or compatibility, friendship is natural and cannot be forced. Sometimes you and people just don’t click. I am not in any shape or form suggesting you can’t get along with these people – just that you might not want them to be your best pals. That’s always fine, but making friends is also about meeting and getting to know people you truly click with.
So here are my tips for making friends in college…
- Start strong. Come in confident and use days such as the open day, the interview, the taster day and induction to speak to as many different people as you can. I actually met one of my best friends on my own taster day. All it took was exchanging Facebook details and walking to the train station together after the day was over.
- Ask for help and get involved. So on the taster day we got to go around the University and do different food related activities to look at different parts of our course. When doing this it’s really easy to start casual conversations with people. I wasn’t very confident doing my paneed chicken, for example, and with my nerves hitting me I was really messing it up! It was then a beautiful angel from Tamworth saved my bum and now we’ve been friends for nearly a year! Later in the day for food service, we did crêpes suzette flambé, and being the confident idiot I am I happily volunteered in front of an entire group of my peers. And of course, being me, I couldn’t get my crêpe to flambé, which was slightly embarrassing (in fairness I hadn’t done it before) but a great conversation starter!
- Look for similarities. So firstly, there is one big advantage here which is, if you’re on the same course, chances are you have a common interest. So that’s one thing to talk about straight away. Little things also include complimenting people. I think I told someone I liked their top the first day and it led to a firm friendship – it really can be that simple.
- Just talk to anyone and laugh. People are drawn to laughter so if you’re cracking a joke, those around you will want to know what the punch line is! It’s easy to make friends when you’re laughing, so stop over thinking and get giggling!
- Ask to sit with someone at lunch. I know this could potentially be an awkward moment, but it could also reap rewards. One of the things that made me sad on my first day was seeing how many people were sat by themselves. Don’t go through the embarrassment of sitting by yourself, it’s not worth it! Instead just go up to people who look friendly and say “is this seat taken?”
- Add your fellow college mates on social media. This is one that needs tactfulness and diplomacy. For one, college courses are for all ages, so I think street smarts need to be applied when adding and speaking to people outside of college. But nonetheless I have made several friendships with fellow students who aren’t in my classes with the help of adding friendly faces on Facebook or talking on another form of social media.
- Just say “hi”. This is no doubt the hardest to execute – but it can also be the most effective. On the first day of college I was walking through the Brassiere restaurant with the class, I think it was as part of a tour or something, and I felt a tap on the shoulder. I looked around to see the sweetest looking girl, and all she said was “Hi, my names Nicole”. It took everything in me not to laugh at her sheer bravery and I will forever say it’s one of my favourite memories of starting UCB. It was just the fact the thought process in her head was clearly “ohh she looks friendly, I’ll go and say hi!” So simple, but something no one ever does.
So I hope these pointers can help you face your fears about making friends at college. I promise you, however scary it seems, it’ll be worth it in the end!