As the new school year begins, I find myself thinking back to freshman me. I was constantly missing my days in high school — not because of the terrible food or constant drama, but for my friends and the relationships I had created. These thoughts were especially constant whenever I saw the people around me getting along within seconds, while I could barely keep a conversation going. I figured I must have been doing something wrong.
If you’re currently feeling this way, don’t worry. Not only am I sure you will find some amazing people here at UC Berkeley, but by doing so, you will also feel less alone. My problem was that I was solely focused on how miserable I was feeling and never got around to change. So here are some tips on how you can make some neat friends this year at UC Berkeley!
Tip #1: So you’ve successfully made it to your class and sat down, arriving 10 minutes early of course … now what? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably scrambling for something to say to your neighbor. Maybe you two were getting along nicely, but there was a sudden lull in the conversation or don’t know what to talk about next because the topic ended. Either way, tip #1 is all about reassurance and reflection.
First of all, don’t freak out. Real friends take time to make. Sometimes a little silence is comforting. You both might be new students still getting your bearings (no? okay…), so don’t worry if conversations end short. At the same time, don’t feel overwhelmed if you keep getting tedious questions like “What’s your major?”, “What are your future career plans?”, or “Where are you from/living this year?”, especially if you don’t really know the answers just yet. These are great ways to prepare for awkward family dinner questions by the way – trust me, I’ve been through it.
Once you’re finished, appreciate the conversation you just had and assess the important milestones you hit. Were you able to face your fears and introduce yourself first? Did the person laugh at your corny joke? Did you speak too fast? Were you fair when it came to letting the other person speak? How can you improve the way you speak so that you are showing people your true self while also being receptive to their points?
Making friends in huge lecture halls can be intimidating because you only have time before and a little after class — if you’re not hungry or have to hike up to Cory — to speak to another person. Just remember to never beat yourself up for any specific conversation. We can only learn from our experiences, and you should use each time you speak as a chance to brush up on your social skills. Also keep in mind that the person you sat next to on day one doesn’t have to be “the one.” We vibe differently with various people, and it can take a while to find someone who appreciates our souls, but stay calm and continue socializing. You’re bound to find a pal!
Which now leads me to Tip #2: Be on the pursuit of happiness, aka make an effort to find friends at all times. I know 10 minutes before a class isn’t much time to get a conversation going, but you should always make the best of any time that you have to talk to someone. It can be hard when you’re nervous or shy, but the more you get out of your comfort zone, the more others start to take notice of how hard you’re trying and reward you. And in this case, our prize is a wholesome friend!
Now if the person you spoke to on the first day was cool and you arrive early the next day, look for them and go say hi! Even if you don’t end up sitting together that day, this person will appreciate that you remembered the interaction and appreciate the approach!
Couldn’t resist the gossip that was cut short due to the lesson? Continue the conversation out of class. Walk around campus with your new buddy — maybe they’re new too! After all, exploring campus together can be a great bonding experience. If your desk buddy is a continuing student, however, you can consider yourself blessed by the Oski gods! Now you have someone to go to whenever you have questions and need guidance.
Study groups are another important way for you to vibe with other people and keep a solid relationship going. Not to mention, you get to learn what study methods work for you and the other people you are with! This way of meeting people can also help you build a group of friends, especially if you’re bonding over how hard CS 61A is or loathe the enormous amount of reading you were just assigned.
Tip #3 is pretty practical and involves some mapping, so all of you visual learners, get ready! Assess the kind of person you are. Do you like asking questions and engaging with the professor near the front? Be brave and sit in the first couple of rows. The people you meet there will have similar goals as you, which will make having them as friends later on a blast because you can relate to each other. Do you plan on spending lots of time on your laptop checking Facebook for cat videos? You should probably sit in the middle or the back, basically near all your fellow memers.
Again, sitting by people who share your interests is a great way to bond and have conversations that flow. If you thought all of your strategizing ended after you got accepted into UC Berkeley, you were wrong. Everything from finding a seat to avoiding squirrels is part of the game plan in my book.
And finally, because I’m sure you already have too many papers and books to read, I present to you with Tip #4: Be yourself.
I know it’s typical, and you’ve heard it all before, but I’m serious when I say this tip is the most important. College is your chance to create lifelong friends from various places, so putting on an act will ultimately become hard. You always want to be the best version of yourself anywhere you go and what better time than when meeting new people at UC Berkeley!
So, here’s to the new school year and to all the friends you make this semester. Good luck everyone, we just know you’ll be able to find your friend on campus.
Contact Pamela Hasbun at[email protected].