There’s a lot that’s exciting about going away to college, but there can also be a lot happening at your new university that feels a bit intimidating. You’re transitioning into a new space and are suddenly faced with a whole slew of new people, new responsibilities, and new types of interactions. One of the great things about college is that it’s a blank slate of sorts—a chance to start fresh with new friends and activities. However, starting all these new things at once can feel overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know how to step out of your comfort zone and get involved.
It can be tempting to stay holed away in your dorm room over the weekend, but trust us—it’s worth it to at least try and get out and about and involved on campus. College is a unique time of life, and you have the opportunity to meet people that you could potentially be friends with for the rest of your life. Here are a few tips for pushing yourself a bit out of your comfort zone in order to take advantage of your time away at school.
1. Introduce yourself
There’s a good chance that a lot of the other new students on campus are feeling just as hesitant as you are. Sometimes it can be challenging to take the first move, but it will probably be appreciated. By pushing yourself to be the first one to greet someone, you’re creating space to connect with someone else who might have been too shy to do so themselves.
Believe it or not, but introducing yourself is the first step in actually getting to know someone 😉 So even if you feel lame, or unsure, just starting with a simple, “Hi, I’m _____. What’s your name?” and a handshake can be all that it takes to get the ball rolling.
2. Join stuff
Universities and colleges usually have an abundance of different types of clubs, organizations, extracurriculars, and intramurals for students to join. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a good chance there’s a related group for that. Don’t be afraid to join a couple groups and try them out for a short season to see what’s a good fit for you. On the flip side, don’t join twenty groups just because…you still want to show you’re committed and leave a little space in your schedule for homework, rest, and a social life.
One thing that’s nice about joining a student interest group is that instead of facing a campus of thousands of people, you’re placed in a group with a smaller amount of individuals to meet and interact with. Not only that, but you’re able to meet others who have similar interests as you. Sign up for a few things to see what sticks and before you know it, you’ll be meeting all sorts of people.
3. Stay positive and keep trying
It can be a bit scary reaching out to others for the first time—most individuals are afraid of some form of rejection, so know that you’re not alone in this common human experience. Don’t lose hope if things don’t work out with a certain group of friends, and don’t give up if you find yourself spending a couple weekends on your own at school in the Fall. It can take time to build community when you first go away to school, and everyone has up and down seasons when it comes to friendships.
When the going gets rough, remember that there always other people out there who are probably feeling lonely and wish someone would puruse them and extend the hand of friendship. You could be that person!
4. Try something new
Wouldn’t normally go rock climbing? Give it a go! Never played chess? Now’s the time to learn! Just because you haven’t done something before doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try. It can be wonderfully fun and exciting to try new activities with new people. Not only might you make new friends, but you might find yourself taking on a new hobby as well. Even if you think you won’t be good at something, have a little grace with yourself, and give it a try. You’ll probably have fun despite any sort of failure.