Helping you get through tough times

Meeting new people at college

Picture this: it’s evening. The whole household is gathered around the TV, drinking countless cups of tea and rustling crisp packets as they watch episode after episode of House of Cards.

This scene sound familiar to you?

Sure, a night in watching television can be a great way to relax and bond with your housemates, but many students often forget that you can get far more out of your college experience.

There are so many opportunities you may have not even considered, like dancing lessons, fencing, trampolining, art classes. There are so many great things you can do with your free time, so why spend it in front of Netflix?

Some students may be so used to hanging out in the same places with the same circle of friends that it may not even occur to them to try something new or attend an unfamiliar event.

In other instances, they can be feeling down or stressed out, and find the idea of facing new people daunting. Or it could be the case that they want to go to a particular society or event, but can’t find anyone they know who will go with them.

Of course it can be daunting showing up alone to a meeting, lesson or function and having to deal with total strangers on your own, but it can do great things for your self-esteem and feeling of self-worth.

Not only do you get the increase in confidence that comes with getting to know new people, you also get the pride and enjoyment of learning a new skill, be it drama, salsa dancing or participation in a language club or newspaper.

College clubs and societies are a great way of meeting like-minded people! Don’t worry about whether or not you’ll know anyone there, just brave that first meeting, and you’ll soon create new friendships.

It’s also a well-known fact that indulging in your hobbies increases your overall level of happiness, as well as helping to decrease your stress levels. If you feel overwhelmed with numerous assignments, looming exams, or even personal problems, take some time out to relax and unwind for a little.

Join a new society, or come along with a friend to theirs. Get to know new people.

As I have said in my previous article College Life: Conquering your fresher fears, an important part of being a college student is meeting new people, having new experiences and really making the most of your college years.

Good tips for meeting new people include:

  • Accept invitations when people ask you to do things – you never know who else might be there.
  • Go to parties where you meet new people.
  • Volunteer (check out your local charities or community events).
  • Join a sports or book club.
  • Take a course at a community college or learn to dance.
  • Walk your dog in the local park (or borrow one!).
  • Start random conversations (only if it feels safe) with people in the street or on the bus or train.

Dealing with nerves

When you’re nervous, it’s easy to get tongue-tied or say things you think sound stupid. Building your self-esteem and going easy on yourself can often calm your nerves.
 Read self-talk.

If you’re at an event with lots of new people, find the people you already know first to relax a bit before meeting others.

If you don’t know anyone and are feeling a bit nervous, chat with a friend on the phone to feel a bit more comfortable.

Smile and make eye contact

You’re more likely to be friendly to someone who smiles at you, so try it yourself.

Opening yourself up to people can make them feel more comfortable and more likely to be friendly in response.

Start conversations

It’s a good idea to ask the other person something about themselves to start things off. Try not to get too personal.

The first time you meet it’s a good idea to stay clear of talking about religion, sex, politics or death.

You could start by asking where they go to school/college, or if you’re at a party, ask someone how they know the person throwing the party.

From this starting point, you can find more things to talk about. Listen to their answers and ask follow up questions. This lets people know you’re interested in what they’re saying.

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This article was last reviewed on 28 March 2017

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