Starting your first year at college is hard enough already — you’re leaving behind all semblance of structure and delving into a new world of opinions, experimentation and copious amounts of alcohol. What puts all these other struggles to shame, however, is the universally awkward dance of making friends.
You go from spending most of your life with the same people to being thrust into a completely new environment where everything and everyone is unknown. There is a silver lining, though — the fact that nobody is alone in this.
Welcome Week is usually where students meet the most people and where the statistical chances of friend-making success are highest. With all the events, tours and hangouts, there’s something for almost everyone. Steinhardt junior Shreya Jain met her closest friends at the South East Asian club meeting during Welcome Week.
“The biggest thing is not to be shy,” Jain said. “Attend all the events and meetings you can during the first week because there will be activities that you and others can enjoy and bond over.”
CAS junior Krini Papacharalambous vouched for the value of joining clubs.
“I think it’s definitely a good idea to enter clubs you’re interested in so you meet people similar to you,” Papacharalambous said. “I made some of my best friends in [Model United Nations] because we already had mutual interests and it was just so easy to connect.”
Tandon senior Kathy Ching said that even the simple act of rushing a fraternity or sorority allows you to make unexpected connections.
“I went to rush Theta Tau and even though I didn’t get to be a brother, a lot of the brothers I know in that fraternity became good friends of mine,” Ching said.
Living in a city as big as New York and going to a college like NYU can be intimidating, but school-specific programs and events are a good way to meet people.
“Because I’m in CAS, I was able to make a few friends through the Cohort Program,” CAS sophomore Tiffany Rhodes said.
Though the school-specific path may be a quick way to build a community of like-minded people, the key is not to take it too seriously. According to Stern junior Yash Sacheti, exclusivity is the worst way to go about making friends.
“If people took Gallatin people more seriously and hated Sternies a little less, life would be easier,” he said.
People tend to put a lot of pressure on the first week of school, but don’t worry too much if you still haven’t found your new best buds by the end. Where are 20 to 200 college students stuck in the same room for at least 3 hours a week? In your classes! Don’t be afraid to talk to the person sitting next to you in lecture. They’re probably hoping you will. But if you can’t get up the strength to actually talk, you can start with baby steps.
“Try to smile at people in class,” CAS junior Emma Ragusa said. “Put out good vibes no matter how alone or nervous you feel at the beginning.”
Try not to get fixated on your idea of what college should be. There’s no pressure to instantly click with your roommate or go out partying every night or find your soulmate during Welcome Week, so don’t try to force anything into existence or beat yourself up if they don’t pan out. Ragusa underscored the importance of being patient.
“I met [my best friend] in November and thank god I did because up until the first Thanksgiving, I had no friends,” Ragusa said. “The key is not to rush yourself and think that you need a best friend right away. It takes time for things that matter to form.”
Still, trying to find your forever friends among around 27,000 undergraduate students can seem an impossible feat, and it’s hard to be patient when it seems like everyone else is already in established cliques. But if all of these upperclassmen did it, so can you. Just remember to put on a smile, be brave and shoot your platonic shot — as many times as needed.
A version of this article appears in the Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, print edition. Email Ria Mittal at [email protected]