Your time at Wesleyan is about to begin—tomorrow marks the start of the bizarre period known as New Student Orientation. You may already be in
lovely probably humid and bug-ridden Connecticut, awkwardly sharing a motel room in Cromwell with your dad. As you drive around buying last minute supplies and fighting about directions, you might be worrying about making friends, but never fear! Here at Wesleying we’re always worried about making friends and we have some tips to help. (Thanks to daniphantom for the previous incarnation of this list.)
Leave your door open
When you’re in your room and you feel like being social (especially in all freshmen dorms), leaving your door open effortlessly increases the chances of meeting new people in your building, most importantly your hallmates. It sort of acts like an open invitation to passersby to say “hi.” There’s nothing better than having friends in your building once it gets unbearably cold, so get friendly with your hallmates now!
Go to Usdan
Usdan is by far the most social eating space on campus. It’s almost always crowded during meal time so it’s easy to bump into people and have simple, yet lasting conversation. There’s a good chance you might be in the sandwich line with that cool kid with the glasses from film class – what better way to get to know each other than to start a conversation about yesterday’s lecture? Especially early in the year, try eating with people you recognize. Lots of people are happy to have someone new to chat with during a meal.
As a side note – make friends with the Usdan workers and cooks! They work super hard and a smile and quick chat can make their shifts much more pleasant. ALSO, clean up after yourself! College may feel like a free-for-all, but it shouldn’t always be.
For some reason, people find it easier to look at the ground or pretend to be on their phones while awkwardly walking past each other. This is a small campus; even though you won’t meet everyone, you’ll definitely start to notice a lot of the same faces once you form a routine. Be friendly! Say hi! Smile as you pass! It’s not weird, trust me. I do it all the time and I haven’t been rejected yet. You never know who you will meet on your way to class.
Go to events—and invite people to come with you
Some of my closest friends were acquaintances I invited to performances, meals, or even walks to Rite Aid (…and Metro.) It’s great to feel comfortable going to things alone, especially as schedules get busier, but it’s also really nice to have company. Especially if you get socially anxious, going to a Second Stage show or a concert in the CFA is a great lowkey way to get to know someone: there’s a built-in conversation topic and activity, and you can always hang out afterwards if you hit it off.
Get involved with student groups
There are SO many clubs, teams, and societies on campus that it’s pretty hard not to be involved in some capacity. Being active on campus gives you an instant network of people that you share interests with. Many groups on campus also host lots of pre-games, outings and formals for its members, increasing the chances of friend-making even more. This is a great way to meet upperclassmen, and to expand your friend group beyond your hallmates and/or orientation friends. Which leads me to…
Have various different groups and relationships
It’s easy to get really close really fast when you start college, and that’s a good thing! That being said, remember to spend time with different people. You and your roommate may get along really well, but if you spend all your time together, there’s likely to be some tension. Most of us are used to having distance from our friends—going home after high school, for example. This distance is pretty important for a lot of relationships—don’t be afraid to take time for yourself and for other relationships. It’s okay if not all your friends know each other; it gives you an opportunity to explore different things and meet more people.
Balance old and new friendships
Maintaining relationships at home is important too: some of my best friends are people I’ve known since I was little. Don’t get too caught up in old relationships though—spending all your time on the phone with your best friend from home makes it hard to make new friends. As important as old friends are, having friends who understand your current environment and are physically there gets more and more valuable as you get settled at Wes. You’ll be a lot less homesick when you have new friends, and you’ll have more stories for your old friends anyway.
Go out on the weekends—and follow up
There’s tons to do on the weekends, especially when workloads are light and the weather is nice still. Apart from parties, there are tons of art and performance events, both university and student-produced, sporting events, and student group activities. The weekends are also good opportunities to explore Middletown, or just to hang out with friends in their rooms or on Foss. Especially at the beginning of the year, you meet lots of people going out. Just talking to people when you’re drunk, however, isn’t the best way to make lasting friendships. If you have a cool conversation with someone in the Fountain backyards, say hi to them next time you see them. Invite them to Usdan during the week. I know way too many people, myself included, with the tendency to awkwardly avoid people we meet at parties, which is super silly. Probably (hopefully) they remember you and were also into the conversation; if they don’t, you get to bond over their crazy night.
Relax, nothing’s set in stone
You’re going to make friends. You’re going to make friends you don’t stay friends with. You’re going to make acquaintance-friend hybrids you feel differently about over the course of your time at Wesleyan. You’re probably going to make friends you later hook up with and then feel really awkward around for a while. You’re going to end up with phone numbers of people you talked to twice during orientation. The point being, people will change and grow over the next four years and your relationships will change and grow with them. Don’t stress if you don’t immediately find people you can see yourself being friends with forever. Keep making new friends—your random Usdan acquaintance might end up being your best friend later on. It often feels like everyone has a wonderful, permanent group of friends they’re completely thrilled with, but lots of people are open to new relationships, take advantage.
Best of luck, new (and even returning!) students. Make lots of friends, maybe even at Wesleying!