Let’s face it. The thought of having to make new friends is always daunting. Up until now, friends have well, sort of just been there. When you look back on your earliest friendships, you know, the ones that consisted of making fake farting noises and eating glue, you can never seem to remember how those relationships formed. It was most likely along the lines of simply sharing a toy or asking if someone was in need of a bathroom buddy where you made your first attempt to be a friend. Of course, at that age, most of us did not think twice about the people we were bringing into our lives. All we wanted was a person to play and laugh with. Seems simple enough. But like anything in life, things never stay so simple.
Now fast-forward to high school. Graduation is slowly creeping up on you, and despite your excitement for the freedom you are about to experience, you cannot help but worry about what you will be leaving behind. Your friends. At this age, you probably have a better idea as to how you ended up in your current social circle. Most of us (if we were lucky) were able to continue on with our same group of friends because they would be the ones to join us in our secondary school ventures. But those times have ended, and now you are ready (not really) to dive into your postsecondary education.
It’s the first morning. You are obviously running behind schedule because you changed your outfit a good three times (you have most likely spent the last four years in uniform, and now is the chance to look your best), and unless you have met some cool peers either at Frosh or first-year orientation, you are as nervous as a deer on a firing range. You start to wonder how you will make it through these next four years, let alone what you will do with your degree in philosophy once you have graduated. Well, there is time for all of that, but right now, you need to face your first university lecture (which you have missed the first half an hour of because you had no idea a basement floor even existed).
You walk in, red-faced, and to your surprise, the only seats left are those in the front row (because no, no, no, nobody wants to be THAT student). So you are stuck, not only in an uncomfortable chair with a desk the size of a calculator but stuck in memories of the past. High school was your prime. You had friends, you knew the building like the back of your hand, books were free of charge, and everything was just a lot easier.
Currently, everything in your life seems so broken, but a wise woman once said that sometimes, good things must fall apart so that better things can fall together. And yes, to all you first-year students, it can and will get better. How?
Well, think back to those times at recess. Think back to those times where you just joined in on a game of soccer and ended up having a blast. Think back to when you shared your cream cheese and jelly sandwich with a classmate that had no lunch. You put yourself out there without even knowing it, and that is what you have to do here. You have to put yourself out there. Be the first one to say hello, or in my case, be the first one to make someone laugh. If there is one thing I had learned during my six (yes, six) years of undergrad, it is that good times are even better when they are shared.
I must say, Bill Withers sure had it right. We all really do need somebody to lean on. University can be tough, and I cannot stress enough how important it is to make friends in your first year, as it will make all the difference.
So yes, friends are great to have a laugh or share a few coffees with, but they are even better to have around if you need some advice or help when it comes to the academic side of things (unfortunately, it can never be just one big social). With how fast paced everything can be, you will want that one classmate to send you the lecture notes you may have missed or to go over an assignment’s guidelines with. When you make those connections in the classroom, you will actually look forward to going to class. You will have acquired some sense of security in the unfamiliarity of it all because you know that there is someone you can relate to. There is someone else that gets it.
However, if you find that you cannot make a friend in class – because it can happen and is totally fine when it does – try a different approach to meeting new people, such as joining a club or two. Sure, there is the obvious benefit of expanding your social circle when it comes to joining a student society, but what is also important to note is that with clubs, the opportunity to acquire new skills and broaden your knowledge of certain topics is also if not more beneficial, as these things are surely advantageous when it comes to future employability.
Employers want to see that you have had positions of responsibility, and as a member of any student association, whether it be your university’s student council or rugby team, you can definitely use your experience to show that you have communication, organization, and team building skills. If you take this step to join a club in first year, not only will you become more comfortable in your new school environment, but you will also be more inclined to join other student organizations as you move further along in your postsecondary studies.
With all that being said, I am almost certain that one final question is lingering in your mind: How do I make the first move? Well my fellow peers, the answer is quite simple. Just do it. You need to be okay with being uncomfortable. You need to put yourself out there.
I must admit, when I started university, I was not as outgoing and sure of myself as I am today. There are students that are extremely reserved and I understand that. But now is not the time to be afraid. Now is the time to seize each and every opportunity you have. Now is the time to grow and to learn who you are and who you want to be.
So when you walk into your first day of classes, remember this: Everyone is in the same boat as you, so put on a lifejacket and prepare to set sail. University might be difficult, stressful, and sometimes just downright awful, but it is sure to be one heck of an adventure.
Sabrina Atzori graduated from Glendon, York University’s bilingual college with an Honours BA in English before entering the Professional Writing and Communications program this year. She is passionate about writing, editing, and communications, and is looking forward to strengthening these areas during her time as a part-time post-grad student at Humber. When Sabrina is not ins school, she is working part-time as a sports monitor, binge-watching videos of adorable animals online, watching or reading anything thriller/mystery related, and adding to her collection of body art.