University Loneliness: How to Make Friends when you Live in a College Dorm
College is supposed to be the best years of our lives, right? Well, sometimes, that isn’t quite the case. Many young adults have difficulty adjusting to the sudden immense changes in their lives that starting at college entails. Many find the stress of coping with homesickness and a demanding workload interrupts the crucial period at the beginning of the new semester when most people make relatively firm friendships and established social circles.
It is very important to establish strong friendships in college. People with rich social lives have been proven to have superior memory and concentration ability. It is also crucial for self esteem and emotional well being to have a strong network of friends. Not to mention the value an exchange of ideas across a broad range of backgrounds has in addition to the lifelong contacts you will gain for after you graduate.
Take Part in Orientation Week Activities
It is during this first week of orientation (commonly referred to as “Frosh Week”) that many significant friendships are forged. Many of the activities will probably seem silly to you, but it is worth it for the sense of camaraderie that it can strike between you and others. If you miss out on this for whatever reason, don’t fret. There are plenty ways left to get integrated throughout the academic year.
Haunt Common Spaces in your Residence
If you live in a college dormitory, you are most likely in the company of a plethora of other young people just as potentially homesick, insecure, and shy as you are. Make a habit of studying and reading in common spaces and invite others to join you when they show the slightest interest. This can evolve into regular study groups and impromptu gatherings.
Get to Know your RA
Residence Assistants are paid by the university not only to keep an eye on the shenanigans and goings-on in the dorm, but also to foster a sense of community in their respective sections. Being on a regular speaking basis with your RA will ensure that you get to know other people on the floor. Being close to your RA and on good terms with him or her will also help keep you out of trouble. I recommend, however, avoiding too deep a friendship with your RA. This of course depends greatly on what kind of person he or she is, but typically, RAs have had a summer of training with each other to develop a sense of camaraderie amongst themselves that can be very difficult for someone else to penetrate.
Eat with People
Mealtime has become an extremely social occasion in our culture. If you live on residence, make a point of going to the mess hall with the people you live with. Being familiar with your RA will likely play a major role in this at first. Meals are a great time to chat and get to know people better. It also lends itself well to follow-up activities such as going for a walk or hanging out.
Join in Chats Before and After Class
Sharing a common plight is an excellent opening for making friends. Talking with your classmates about difficult assignments, demanding professors, tight deadlines, etc. is not only a great way to ease the stress caused by these things, but also strengthens the sense of camaraderie and shared experience between you and them. To spark the switch to friend status, make a habit of inviting your classmates to study and work on assignments with you. In addition to social enrichment, this will also have a benefit on your academic performance.
No matter which university, there are guaranteed to be at least a couple clubs and extra-curricular organizations in which you would be interested. Sometimes killing loneliness in college just means finding your niche. Whether you want to get down with an Ultimate Frisbee team or a knitting club, you will find your social calendar filling up pretty fast. That being said, this is still not a quick fix. There are likely to be existing friendships within the group and you will need to play your cards right to be fully accepted. One thing you will want to avoid is arriving too early to meetings. Being the first to arrive will emphasize the fact that you arrived alone and will make you seem more desperate than you actually are. You also need to pipe up during meetings and participate as fully as possible in whichever activities or programs run by the group. This will get you talking with everyone and comparing interests. When you get to know people really well, you can start working your way into seeing them outside of general meetings. It is easy to see how effective joining student clubs is at building up an entourage.
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