Jumping into such a big school, my first worry was “How am I going to make friends?” Living in the same neighbourhood for most of my life, I generally had a solid group of friends and feared that if I didn’t act quickly, I would be eating my meals alone at Burwash Hall.
So in the weeks leading up to first year, along with packing and planning out my dorm room, I devised a list of ways to meet new people on campus. While this plan was entirely in my head and I didn’t follow it religiously, I’d like to think subconsciously it pushed me out of my comfort zone and led me to branch out socially at university.
|My Plan||What Actually Happened|
|To simply walk up to people and introduce myself.||While straightforward, putting yourself out there can be intimidating. Boldly I used this strategy on the first day of Frosh week and I ended up meeting some of my best friends.|
|Sign up for as many clubs and extra-curriculars as possible.||During the Orientation Week Club’s Fair I signed up for about a million opportunities, but honestly I didn’t attend all the meetings. It’s nice getting emails about events on campus, but going back, I would focus on clubs that are of utmost interest to me.|
|Go to “welcome” events and club mixers on campus.||This turned out to be a great way to make friends. I realized that if you’re at events with other first years, they’re in the same boat as you, and upper years are conscious of your first-year nerves, so they’re usually extremely nice! For example, I attended the Hillel Welcome BBQ and met a bunch of students, which began my journey with the organization.|
|Try to sit with new people in the dining hall every meal.||Initially I made an effort to follow this plan, though as friend groups began to form and I found a circle of my own, it became less necessary. But there’d occasionally still be days where I’d strut into the meal hall unaccompanied and find some new acquaintances.
|Make an effort to get to know students in my classes.||Most of my friends laugh at me when I say that I always try to speak with those sitting next to me in class. Though the fact is: If you’re in a full year class (or even a half year), you’ll be immersed in this group of students for an extended amount of time– Why not get to know them? Also it doesn’t hurt to have classmates you can ask for notes from when you miss lecture!|
Reflecting on first year, and even my everyday life at U of T these days, those are a few of the best ways (in my opinion) to meet new people on campus. Not everything went according to the strategy and at a certain point I fell into the rhythm of things and forgot all about my “Type-A planning, “but at end of the day, I never regretted putting myself out here.
Good luck with orientation week and let me know your “get out of your comfort zone” tips in the comments!
Until next week – R