Dear Harlan: I’m going to college in the fall to a school where I don’t have any friends. I’m a pretty shy person. My real problem is getting a conversation started with new people. Once it starts going it gets better. How do you recommend approaching/starting to interact with people when in college?
Dear Shy: You’re going to make so many new friends. The good news: Most people are shy and uncomfortable. You just have to be honest with your feelings, smile and say something. To help you out, I’ve given you 10 ways to make it easier to start a conversation and find friends:
— Do something: Find an activity you love to do and experience it with other people (bowling, band, pingpong, gaming). When you are doing something you love, the thing you’re doing becomes the focus of conversation.
— Get a job: Working gives you something to do and something to talk about. You have a role. That means always having something to say to people.
— Sweat: Group exercise classes will help you meet people. These will be people you’ll see around campus. You can say, “Hey, aren’t you in my Cardio Blast Beat Bootie Boogie Class?”
— Play a sport: Try to play a team sport. You can get put on a team at the recreational center. There can be intramurals and club sports. When you’re playing a game, you can talk about the game.
— Volunteer: Get involved in a club or organization. When you are doing something for other people it’s easy to talk to the people you’re helping and the people volunteering with you.
— Pray: Go to a spiritual club or organizational gathering. Get free food and meet people.
— Go to events: Look for all of the events for first year students. Go. If you don’t have anyone to go with, pretend you’re meeting someone.
— Study in a group: Once classes start, form study groups. You don’t have to worry about making conversation because you’ll talk about what you’re studying.
— Get help: When you ask for help from people whose job is to provide help, the conversation flows. Find tutors, counselors and teachers. They can become your new friends.
— Find free food: Go to anything where there is free food. Talk about how you can’t believe there is so much free food and let the conversation flow as you stuff your face with free food.