I want to begin by setting one thing straight: If you don’t already know me, then I should point out that I tend to be a pretty shy, quiet guy. People that do know me may call bullshit. People that know me really well may say that it goes either way. Yeah, human beings are complicated, hey? The point being: socializing and making friends isn’t something that always came naturally to me. Even now, it’s far too easy for me to sink into old routines of hiding in my room watching anime and getting good at FIFA day after day after day.
Therefore, in an effort to overcome my instincts, I developed a number of techniques (I’m not sure if that’s the right word). Hopefully, one of you five people reading this may find them useful (particularly if you’re a first year):
1. Embrace college life.
I started my uni life at John XXIII College and for 2.5 years, that was home. If you’re starting at a residential hall (yes, that includes Unilodge and Griffin), it is imperative that you turn up to college events, especially during O-week. At least for that one week, a large chunk of everyone else will be just as awkward as you are (well, almost) and will also be equal parts keen and nervous with regards to friend-making. Booze-fuelled parties make meeting people at college much, much easier as has been my experience (provided you remember each other the next morning). Even if you’re not into drinking/partying, there’s still plenty of ways to meet people around college. Apart from the non-drinking events that colleges tend to have, getting involved with interhall sports and arts is a great way to meet people.
If you’re not at college nor part of Griffin Hall, well, that’s a little out of my expertise unfortunately, but all is not lost just yet.
This is a fairly obvious one I’m sure most would have picked up from school. Similar to interhall sports, wider campus sport is great for socializing as well. Make sure to find to try and find a club you’d be interested in being involved with. Society events are good but actually getting inside the committee, even if it is just first-year rep grunt work, is fantastic for making connections. However, it’s pretty important that you find one you’re genuinely interested in as I know a number of people who end up spreading themselves too thin or overcommitting.
A more specific tip relates to uni productions. Get involved in productions such as the ones run by NUTS, the Interhall Musical and the Arts and Law Revues (Pro tip: You don’t have to actually study Arts to audition for Arts Revue). Simply being in close proximity with a host of other students will turn you a tight-knit bunch. Understandably, not everyone is the talented sort who will be in the cast or even the band. Doesn’t mean you can’t get involved. There will always be a job to be done and it will be appreciated.
ANUSA shouldn’t be overlooked either. Apart from the obvious parties, volunteering with events is another great way to meet people you normally wouldn’t. Hell, even running for ANUSA, successfully or unsuccessfully, is good in a way as you get to bond with other good, keen people who feel just as dirty as you during campaign week, as much as it can sometimes boil down to little more than petty dick-measuring (You know I still love you, ANUSA).
Some closing notes:
In my first week at Johns, my drunken attempts to make conversation may have led to one where a girl told me, quite a bit more politely than I maybe deserved, “Look, you’re not going to click with everyone you talk to. That’s just a fact of life. But you hang on to those that you do”. The crux of all that I’m writing is simply this: just put yourself out there. It is possible that not every person is going to reciprocate your attempts at sociability. But at the end of the day, it’s a numbers game and you’re bound to find people that you click with and it’s easier than you think. You just get to cast the net wider when you get around events and get out of your comfort zone. So, get out there while you’re still a bright-eyed first-year and this keenness seems cute rather than borderline pushy.