When I arrived at CalSO, I had two goals: to figure out my classes for the upcoming semester and to make a friend. The first, I had nervously prepared for, and all I really had to do was hit the registration button after talking to my adviser. The second was more of an amazing coincidence, because the girl randomly assigned to be my roommate for the night, Leka, wanted a friend just as much as I did. She and I grabbed breakfast together, sat together when we could and exchanged phone numbers. I had always been afraid that I would have trouble making friends in college, but after making a close friend right away, I thought I would be fine.
But once I arrived on campus in the fall, I was not fine. My classes were mostly fun and interesting, but my social life? Yikes. I had always imagined living with my best friends, so I wanted to be close to my roommates, who I had found on the Facebook roommate search after getting accepted. I ignored anything that suggested that we were not compatible people. It went well at first, but after a while, it became clear that I wasn’t wanted when my roommates got together with the friends we had made during the first couple weeks of the semester. My roommates are great people, but some people just aren’t meant to be best friends. Unfortunately, by the time I realized this, everyone I knew had managed to form a friend group. Maybe it was the blow my self-confidence took from my failed attempts to form friendships with my roommates, but I was pretty much convinced that I was doomed to be mostly friendless for at least fall semester, if not the rest of my life.
It turns out that not having friends in college is awful. You constantly see everyone else hanging out with their friends, whether in their rooms or in the dining hall. It’s an omnipresent reminder that you’re alone. I became very adept at the “to-go” option in the dining halls and eating at my desk. I called my mother at least every other day and I spent hours on FaceTime with my boyfriend each evening. I was worried I wouldn’t have anyone to live with for the next year. I still spent time with some floormates and classmates, but I didn’t really click with any of them. They had already made their close connections. In short, it was miserable.
I did have one thing going for me. The day after move-in, I sent a text to my roommate from CalSO. We met up that afternoon and it turned out that we were taking the same gender and women’s studies class. So twice a week, I had a good friend to talk to and sometimes a dinner buddy. Looking back, neither of us are really sure why we didn’t just bother to walk the distance between our residence halls and eat together more regularly, because it turned out that we were both lonely. Leka and I became close throughout the beginning of the semester, the single good friendship I made in August that survived past September.
Two major things happened that completely changed my year for the better. One of my floormates, Diya, invited me to join her for dinner at Crossroads. I’m still not sure why, but she took me under her wing and went out of her way to include me in her very large, enthusiastic friend group. Diya and her friends routinely invited me to various dinners and get-togethers. Even though I felt somewhat out of place and overwhelmed among the plethora of STEM majors and high-energy personalities, they were all welcoming and friendly at a time when each new friend was worth their weight in gold to me. Thanks to them, Berkeley began to feel a little more comfortable.
Around the same time, Leka and I started talking to a girl in our gender and women’s studies class. After a few conversations and one memorable dinner in which we both managed to forget her name — it’s Cait — something clicked. The combination of our personalities just worked. We started getting dinner together almost every night and spent Saturdays going to San Francisco. We decided to get an apartment together for the next year. By spring semester, we were inseparable, and Berkeley began to feel like home.
My smooth start at CalSO meant I let my guard down and was taken aback by the rocky transition in the start of my freshman year. Though I was involved in on-campus activities and was diligent with my studies, my lack of close friends made it difficult to feel like I really belonged at Berkeley. That was temporary. Now, I have two amazing best friends whom I cannot wait to live with. Diya and I will indubitably get together, either alone or with the large group of wonderful people she helped me get to know. I made more good friends in my classes and extracurriculars. Making the effort to become friends with Leka at CalSO and not letting my initial failures stop me from connecting with Diya and Cait made all the difference and made my freshman year more wonderful than I could have expected. Only nine months ago, I was convinced that I was doomed to friendlessness for my four years at Berkeley. Now, I can’t wait to get back and see my friends again.
Contact Taylor Follett at [email protected]