How to Find Your Place When You're Feeling Lost
Starting university can be as nerve-wracking as it can be exciting. Grads tell you that time will fly by, and that the friends you make will be your life-long besties. But making friends can be tough when you go to a school with over 70,000 students in a city with over 2 million people. I've spent my life up until freshman year dreaming about going to off to college, saying a teary goodbye to family, choosing the perfect dorm décor, befriending my roommates, and maybe even joining a sorority. My dreams were crushed when my parents suggested that I commute to school instead of living on residence, since I wasn’t leaving home. While I argued against it at first, I ultimately gave in. They assured me that I would still make friends and that I would still find my place. I was skeptical. In the movies, the girl who makes life-long friends and truly became her own person does this all from the comfort of her dorm, not from her childhood bedroom. I couldn't help but feel a pang of envy as my friends discussed how much they looked forward to their newfound freedom and how they had already befriended their roommates online.
September rolled around and I imagined myself getting lost in the crowd; or worse, arriving and seeing that everyone had already formed tight-knit friend groups. I headed into Frosh Week with a heavy heart and troubled spirit, only to come out with a bunch of new friends. The relationships I made set the tone for the rest of the month, as I met more people and little by little began to feel comfortable. The key? Having an open mind. So, while I'm still trying to find my place, here are a few things I've learned that have made things a little easier.
Sign up for everything. And I do mean everything.
On club’s day, I signed up for anything that piqued my interest. While I didn’t end up participating in all of them, being on the email lists gave me tons of options and kept me in the know. Plus, I was able to talk to older students to gain advice, and I was introduced to great programs I never knew existed.
Find your study spot.
If you're a commuter student, then you don't have a cozy dorm room where you can rest in between classes. So, find the study space. Whether it has a great view or a great vibe, whether it's a café, a library, or a park, the regularity will give you an anchor in the midst of such a hectic lifestyle.
Make a resident BFF...literally.
I'm very lucky that one of my closest friends decided to live on residence. I visit her throughout the week, and as a result, I've befriended a few of her dorm mates. This has been super helpful because they make me aware of any on-campus activities previously unknown to commuter students like myself.
Orientation week = your week.
During Frosh Week, go to all of the activities, talk to your program leaders, get festive, but most importantly, be yourself. When I stopped worrying and let loose, I was able to have fun and actually made more friends than before. We were drawn to each other's personalities and positive energies, and as the week drew on, we all really bonded.
Remember: We’re all going through the same thing.
Even that girl with the perfect makeup and nails still wants someone to say hi to her. So I introduce myself to the people on either side of me in class. I ask questions and try to bond over our similar struggles. While I don't click with everyone I meet, more often than not I do gain a new friend (or at the very least, more insight into how the school works). It’s a win-win, so just go for it.
By Alexandra Lambropoulos, 18