To this day I regret that I didn’t make more friends at college. When I started studying I was a different person. I was very introverted, insecure and I had self-doubts. I was the first in my family to study at a German university and completely new to the environment. The first two semesters my goal was to survive. Looking back I realized how much suffering I could have avoided with help from friends. With that in mind I want to teach you 9 ways to make friends your first semester in college.
Before we dive into the 9 ways to make friends, let me explain why it is important (in the first semester). Besides the normal networking benefits, you can raise your study success with the right friends. Two of the best learning boosters are mentors and teaching yourself. Friends in higher semesters can give you the best advice. Which courses and professors should you avoid? What can you expect in exams? What is important? They can answer such questions and it makes a huge difference. On the other side, you can also take the role of the elder/mentor. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn.
“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
― Muhammad Ali
#1 Living situation
You can turn you living situation into a networking gold mine by sharing an apartment with roommates. Not only can you turn them into friends but also their friends. When you live together it is unavoidable to meet each others friends and family.
Join a fraternity. You will get to know all the fraternity brothers and sisters. Fraternities tend to be homogeneous. They also have some rules and a reputation. Keep that in mind when you choose one.
#3 Political Parties
All political parties have subgroups at almost every university. If you are into politics and you want to meet likewise people, you can engage in the subgroups. You should contribute in some way. Otherwise, you will only meet people of your party.
#4 Student Council
Every department has a student council. Become a member of the student council. Every day students will come and ask for help. That is the perfect opportunity to become friends. As a member of the council you will always have an excuse to start a conversation.
#5 Campus activities
Under campus activities I understand everything you do on the campus that is not organized. Examples would be playing Frisbee, Chess or smoke Hookah. Games give you a perfect excuse to meet somebody. Just tell them you need more players.
Clubs are the organized forms of campus activities. You will find clubs on various topics and activities. Popular clubs are the debating society or the chess club. Clubs have the great advantage that they meet regularly. You have more than one meeting to turn somebody into a friend. Compared with the campus activities there is one disadvantage. You can’t meet strangers. In a club you are restricted by the members. As with fraternities, keep that in mind when you choose one.
Every university has a sports department. They offer courses of various types. You can play soccer, football, basketball, etc and meet other students that way. Some universities have teams that compete against other universities in own leagues. Getting into those teams is great. That way you can meet fans and students from other universities.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of events for students. The most important one is the freshmen party. During the first weeks the advanced students organize a party for the freshmen. It’s a great opportunity to meet your fellow students and professors. There are always some semester beginning or ending parties, flea markets, job fairs and so on. All of them give you the opportunity to meet people. By helping to organize the events you can amplify your efforts.
In some courses it is more likely to meet new people than in others. Two factors are crucial. First, who is allowed to take part? Students of your department or of all departments? Second, how is the course structured? Is it necessary to interact with other students? Will you work in groups or teams? Language courses are perfect examples. Students of all departments can attend the courses. It is necessary to speak with other students to practice your skills. In every language you need to learn how to introduce yourself.
Bonus: #10 Tutoring
As I mentioned before teaching others is one of the best ways to learn. Two by two sessions are most effective. You see the best results in your mentee and you can create deeper relationship. You can also teach a small class. This way you can befriend more people and train your pubic speaking skills.
“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”