by Aparajita Bandhari
My first ever university class was BIO120, Monday morning in Convocation Hall. I remember walking into the building, yawning and bleary-eyed, and feeling utterly overwhelmed. Convocation Hall is a huge building that can seat more than 1,700 people, which means it’s a pretty intimidating setting in which to try and make friends. I was lucky enough to live in residence last year so before classes had even begun I had been able to make some friends I could sit with. Even so, I understand the struggle of making genuine, lasting friendships in huge classes. I’m in my fourth semester here at university and, in all honesty, introductions haven’t really become any less nerve-wracking. That being said, I have picked up a few tricks, which might also help some of you.
Pick your seat strategically
This is difficult to do in a classroom the size of Con Hall where sometimes merely finding an empty seat can feel like The Hunger Games, but in other lecture halls, even those with 200 students, people tend to sit in the same seats from lecture to lecture. If you really care about your grade in a particular class or want to participate in all the discussions you should sit in the first few rows; if you’re feeling a bit more relaxed about this particular class maybe take seat a little bit further back. The people who are sitting near you probably feel similarly about the class, so you’re a little more likely to find common ground. After a few lectures surrounded by some of the same faces you might even feel comfortable enough to finally…
Strike up a conversation!
This is most terrifying part of the process, at least for me. One easy conversation starter that you can use with basically anyone is bringing up the readings for the class. You can comment on how long the last chapter was, or ask whether your classmate understood a section or even exclaim about the ridiculous price of the required textbook. It actually is foolproof, however, if your class doesn’t really have readings (lucky!) to ask what the professor went over last class, what tutorial section they’re in or about the date of the midterm. Basically, the best way to start a conversation is to ask about something general and related to the class you’re in. This allows the conversation to feel natural in the context of a classroom and isn’t too personal right away.
Once you’ve had a few conversations with someone you can judge if you genuinely want to be friends with them. If you decide you do want to be friends with this person outside of class you can ask them for their number or, if that feels too forward, ask to add them on Facebook. This gives you a way to later contact them about hanging out outside of class. You can start by maybe studying or doing assignments together and then take your friendship from there.
We’re all short of time, so…
I’ve found that most people’s advice when it comes to making friends involves joining clubs or going out to more events. While those are great ways to meet more people, many people don’t have that much extra time to dedicate to extracurricular or they may be commuters. There are so many potential new friends in all the classes that you attend regularly already, so you definitely can make friends without going through too much extra work. Don’t be shy: step a little bit outside of your comfort zone, use the aforementioned tips and make some new friends!
Do you have tips for making friends? What was your most unusual first conversation in class? Let us know in the comments!