1. Say Hello
In the elevator, I say hi. Well, more specifically I say “hi friend” because I call everyone friend all the time. And I make small talk, no matter how awkward, because I find it’s easier to be comfortable if I know someone in the same room as I am.
I met one of my best friends here in college in the elevator of my hotel by saying hello, and asking what college he was moving into. Sometimes it really is that simple.
2. Ask Questions
The quickest way to get to know someone is to ask them questions and, lucky for you, you know nothing about these people you’re sharing space with.
My big tip for this is to get past “where are you from/what’s your principle/what’s your major” basics. In my experience, the quicker you get away from what brought you together (college in this case) and get to more random things (a movie you both love, a TV show you’re both binge watching, basically something else you share passion about) the more likely you’ll be friends.
Is there something the other person is wearing you can ask about? A cultural difference you can ask about? Do they have an interesting principal/major combination? I find it’s better to ask and apologize than not ask, because it’s always good to show you’re interested.
3. Get Out of Your Dorm (Or Apartment)
Walk out of your door and attend orientation events. Yes, even the non-required ones. Attend your peer advisor meetings and events if you’re comfortable with your group. If someone invites you to their room to play Mario Kart and you feel comfortable, go. Even if you end up leaving five minutes in, you now have another friendly face in your building.
When someone invites me to sit with them in lunch and I’m free, I do. Sometimes it’s super awkward and we can’t find anything to talk about and we end up talking about Berklee for half an hour. But sometimes we have really interesting conversations, and, even if we don’t end up hanging out that much, it’s nice to know more people.
4. Meet Your Neighbors
I may not spend a lot of time with my suite mates, but we talk about things other than whose turn it is to buy toilet paper and who showers when. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re from, like, two towns over back home. It’s nice that can I reference places from the suburbs of Chicago and not have to explain myself.
Meet your neighbors if only because then maybe they won’t gossip about the sounds they hear from your room.
5. Make Friends in Your Classes
Because then if you have problems with the material, you can ask them for help. Because then if you miss class, there’s someone you can ask for help. And then if your teacher assigns the dreaded partner project, you have someone you can partner up with.
Another benefit of this is that, because they’re in your class, you automatically have something to talk to them about and a reason to spend time with them because you can always ask them to study!
6. Meet Your Friends’ Friends
If someone you know made friends in one of the aforementioned ways, chances are you’ll get along with them too. More often than not I find that I get along with people I have friends in common with, and when I don’t it’s generally because all my friends are admittedly much nicer than I am.
If you don’t have things to talk about, ask them the basics (origin/principal/major) and the basic follow up questions (why that instrument/what’s your rating/who’s your private instructor/what classes are you taking). But whatever you do, don’t be mean to your friends’ friends, because that reflects poorly on you. And when all else fails, talk about the person you have in common.
7. There’s Always Facebook
When in doubt, head on to your school-sanctioned class FaceBook (or the one someone made as soon as you got into your school that everyone actually uses) and interact with people. Like, comment, post, ask questions. Get your name on the page so when you do meet people, they might recognize you from that cool comment you left or the funny meme you posted.
This goes without saying, but follow the rules of social media etiquette: don’t be a jerk, don’t be insensitive, and don’t put up with bullshit if it’s bullshit.
8. If You Must Get Down, Get Down
Admittedly I’m not a party person, but if you are, get your groove on (or whatever it is the kids say these days). Drink responsibly, don’t go alone, etcetera (you heard all of this from Think About It, so I’ll leave my advice at that, especially considering my complete lack of experience in this area).
Leave with the people you came with, but make new friends while you’re there. Try not to only talk to the people you came with (which I’m so super guilty of!). Parties are a good way to meet people- especially if everyone is sober (but that’s just my opinion).
9. Once You Find Your Crew, Keep Them
If you’re lucky enough to find a group of people you fit in with, be a good friend. Help them with their problems, help them go dorm shopping, help them catch the mice co-inhabiting their room. Basically don’t suck.
10. Make New Friends…
But keep the old. Don’t forget about the people back home. We’re lucky enough to have technology to use to keep in touch, so why not put it to good use?
I’ve met my college friends’ friends from home, and it’s cool to see them interact. We’re all so lucky enough to be following our dreams, and it’s so wonderful to see the support that got them here.