You finally unpacked all the boxes, your weekly schedule is mapped out, and you’re starting to find your favorite eateries on the Ave, but a big challenge looms: How will I ever meet people here?
- Gauge your interests, and then head to places where kindred spirits are likely to gather. Perhaps you have a hobby or a favorite activity, such as listening to hip-hop or watching old movies. One of the benefits of a large campus community is the abundance of groups and clubs reflecting diverse interests. Check out the Student Activity Office listing of Registered Student Organizations, where you’ll find groups ranging from the Anime Discovery Project to the Cuisine Club .
- Strike up some school spirit. While it might be tempting to blow off events such as floor meetings or Dawg Daze, you’ll be missing a prime opportunity to meet other new students if you skip out. Make it a point to show up and introduce yourself to at least 3 other people at each of these university events.
- Send friendly signals. People may not know you’re looking for connection if you walk across campus with downcast eyes, your cell phone clutched anxiously in one hand and iPod in the other. When you’re hoping to meet people, it’s usually more effective to smile, make eye contact, and be open to passing conversations that might lead to a more lasting connection.
- Find a way to make the campus “smaller”. There’s no doubt that this is a big place, but students who feel most at home on the campus are typically those who have found smaller communities with which to identify. This might happen through your FIG or TRIG, through participation on an intramural sports team, or through your involvement in a local faith community. Other people carve out their niche through a part-time job or volunteer opportunity. The UW can feel much smaller when you have a community of people with whom you feel at home.
- Give it some time, and ask for help if you need it. It will take awhile for your new friendships here to feel as familiar and comfortable as the ones you’re likely leaving behind. So be gentle with yourself and focus on taking small steps to reach out and build connections. If you’re struggling and would like to talk with a counselor about these issues, consider setting up an appointment at the Counseling Center. Group therapy can be an especially helpful experience for people who want to learn more about how to form healthy relationships.