Some students arrive at college with no idea how to meet people. They have gone to school in their small towns, already knowing everyone in their class. They now find themselves in a place where they don’t know anyone at all. The idea of walking up to a stranger and beginning a conversation seems intimidating, especially when we’ve all been taught not to talk to strangers.
Colleen is waiting to meet her new roommate. She hopes they will get along well. Colleen isn’t comfortable meeting new people. She knows she can say “Hi, i’m Colleen. You must be my new roommate.” but after introductions, she couldn’t think what else they could talk about. She is hoping her roommate will take charge of the conversation.
Meeting your new roommate isn’t her only problem. She and her roommate won’t always eat at the same time. She hates to think of walking into a cafeteria alone. She realize that she’ll always have two choices: Sit by herself and feel like everyone is looking at her and feeling sorry for her, or sit down at a table with someone else and hope they don’t mind.
It really isn’t that hard. If you have concerns like Colleen, you should find this section helpful.
Meeting people in the cafeteria
Start by looking for standing in line near you who seems to be alone. You might say something like, “Hi, my name is Jerry. If you’re by yourself like I am, maybe we could share a table.
The possible answers are: “Yes, I’d like that.” “Sorry, but I’m meeting a friend here. He’s saving my place. ” or very rarely. “No thanks.” None of these should be embarrassing.
But nobody in line seems to be alone? Then look around the room. If you see someone starting to eat (not about to finish) who is alone and looks uncomfortable, walk over to their table and say, “Hi, I seem to be alone today, would it be all right if I join you?” This person might also say no, that he or she is expecting someone, but I’d guess that eight or nine times out of ten, they will welcome you. Even if a friend is expected, they might say, “Certainly. I’m expecting but there’s always room for one more.”
The third possibility is that you end up sitting alone and see someone looking uncomfortable looking around for a place to sit. Smile at them and gesture that they’d be welcome at your table. Say something like, “Join me if you like. I’m alone today and was hoping I’d find someone to talk to.” Don’t sound desperate. Just act friendly. There are others who are more worried about eating alone that you are.
And, if you decide you like the person you ate with, you might say, “Jack, I really enjoyed getting to know you and I’d like to continue this conversation. Do you usually eat lunch at the same time?” Be sure to remember his name and a little about him. Smile and meet him when you see him on campus.
Where should you go to meet people?
Another good place to begin is getting to know the other students on your floor of the dorm. You will be seeing these people every day, meeting them in the halls and sometimes in the bathroom. Start by getting to know each one of them.
Know their names, where they are from, and what they are interested in. If you have a bad memory, write this information in a notebook: room number, name, where they’re from, interests. Then you can greet them by name, ask appropriate questions or make appropriate comments. If you meet several people with similar interests, introduce them to each other. They will both appreciate it.
The two women in the picture met in a biology class. Both plan to be biology teachers. They have a great deal in common and enjoy getting to know each other better.
Many websites and books suggest that you join college organizations. They don’t usually think to suggest that this is mainly helpful if the organization is something you are really interested in. If you join the photography club when you don’t have a camera and you have no interest in taking pictures, you might not find people you would choose as a friend.
Join one or a few organizations you are really interested in. Don’t go overboard and join everything you can. I have known people who did this and had so little time left for their studies that they flunked out. Your main reason for being in college is to study and do well in your courses.
Good friendships often begin with having similar interests. Let’s say that you are interested in sports. You might join an intermural team where you will meet others interested in sports. Or, if you don’t want to play on a team but you enjoy watching football, basketball, etc on TV, find a student lounge or other location on campus to watch your games. Others with similar interests will probably be there.You might also wear a cap or shirt showing the name of your favorite team. Others may greet you, saying they too are Yankee fans (or whatever team you are supporting).
Let’s say that you were raised in a church-going family and you’d like to find a friend with a similar background and religious beliefs. It’s obvious, isn’t it? Go to church. Look for a Bible Study group for college students or young adults. You have much more in common with these people than those you would meet at a fraternity party.
The young man in the picture is watching other students walk by, talking and laughing with their friends. Watching them makes him feel even more lonely. Everyone seems to have someone to talk to except him.
Perhaps you would prefer to meet someone with the same academic interests. You might meet people in your classes and do homework together. Your school might have an organization of students (or sometimes, students and faculty) in the department. You should definitely participate in these groups.
My freshman year, I joined the Botany Club and had a wonderful time. They had wonderful programs with refreshments afterwards to encourage people to stay and get to know each other. They also had interesting field trips, another occasion to meet people with similar interests.
Perhaps you love music. There are often special concerts and other events you can attend. You could play in the band or sing in a musical group. If you play chess, you might find a chess club. Or you could find a number of other students who enjoy chess and organize your own group.
If your main interest is getting drunk and doing really stupid things, you will have no problem finding others who share these interests. You may, however, soon learn that these interests will interfere with your goals of making decent grades and graduating. You could have stayed home and found friends to get drunk with.
One other thing you might consider. Your college years may be the best opportunity you will ever have to meet and get to know people from different backgrounds. Meet people from different races and ethnic backgrounds. Meet people from all kinds of different religions.
Meet people from all over the world. Students from other countries are often concerned with making friends. They will usually be delighted to talk to you and learn more about your country. What a wonderful experience and education this can be for both of you. Some students end up with life-long friends in countries all over the globe.
The students in the picture come from many parts of Asia. You can be sure they are all hoping to meet students from your country and from other parts of the world. They probably feel more nervous about making friends than you do. And, if you live nearby, consider inviting them home with you for a weekend, especially for holidays.