I’m simultaneously trying not to get swept up with the crowd or make it too obvious I’m checking the campus map on my phone. I weave through the student body on my way to my first college lecture, and being the planner that I am, I’ve already scoped out my classes. However, trying to walk casually while trying to see the building signs is a different story.
Finally, I settle on a modern, all glass building and head inside, gawking around like the freshman I am. A chill hits my arms and I silently curse myself for not bringing a sweater to wear over my sorority tank. I arrive at the gray door and as soon as I grab the handle and swing it open, a very overwhelming sight, unheard of in high school, greets me. The 200-student lecture hall is packed with people laughing and the glowing screens of those who would rather not socialize.
Trying not to panic, I try to casually scan the room for anyone to sit by. As if surrounded by a beckon of light, I spot a baby blue ADPI bid day tank from across the room. Even though I have to climb down a flight of stairs (trust me, the lecture hall is that big) I take a seat next to the girl in the matching tank, who luckily greets me with a smile. My heartbeat slows, I can feel my shoulders and mind start to relax as we open our laptops and make conversation.
Once Anthropological Biology is done, I race to Composition II with confidence, because if I can find a friend in a 200-person class, then surely I can find some in my subsequent lectures. I silently made a pact that day to make a friend in every class for the next four years of college. I’ll be the first to admit sometimes it wasn’t always easy. People could look at you like you’re Borat if you took a seat next to them and start chatting, but trust me; it’s the fastest way to form a relationship.
For example, one of my closest friends told me she honestly thought I was a little weird when I started talking to her after I got to class early one day and had 10 minutes to kill. She went to a high school an hour away and wasn’t on the same quest for friends that I was. Later on she told me she couldn’t imagine what would have happened if I didn’t. Our classmates thought we had grown up together, we meshed so well.
I took a chance and came to a mid-size, southern campus only knowing 4 people, and left with many great memories of classes that were made memorable, by those I shared them with.
So here’s my biggest college tip: Get over yourself and start a conversation with the person next to you. Even if they’re on their phone, chances are they are looking for a friend too. FYI, it also helps if you pick the friendliest looking person in the room. Trust me, if I can say hi to random strangers while walking to the dining hall, sit by people I don’t know, and invite a girl I just met to grab lunch before the next class starts, SO CAN YOU.
After all, my motto is “Do it big, do it right, and do it with style (by Fred Astaire)” for a reason.