…And make new friends while you’re at it.
by Guest Blogger Serena Piper
Part of life is meeting new people. We encounter new people every day: in the workplace, at school, and through our friends. It can be scary at times, but being able to be yourself around strangers can lead to wonderful friendships and career opportunities. The more you practice, the easier it gets. We all know the tried and true methods of finding friends in college (study buddies, on campus parties), but here are three new approaches to finding and making friends:
1. Be open and accepting of other cultures, religions, and backgrounds.
Part of the comfort you find in your friends is that they’re familiar, and you have a ton in common and shared experiences. But if you learn to look outside your comfort zone, there are new and interesting people all around you. Stop by your campus international club after class one afternoon. I’m sure there are at least a few international students hoping to make a new friend in the States, and hey, you’ll learn something new about a different country in the process. Expand your borders!
2. Get off your cell phone!
I love texting just as much as the next person, but I can’t tell you how many times a day I look around campus and see people with a phone in their hand like it’s an extension of their arm. Don’t let technology replace face-to-face conversations! The next time you are leaving class, resist the urge to whip out your cell and check for new text messages. Instead, smile and make eye contact with the people around you. Body language affects how we’re perceived by others. Having your hands free shows others that you’re approachable.
3. Volunteer somewhere off campus.
Many students find themselves stuck on campus and need a break. Find an animal shelter or mentor youth in your city. Organizations are always looking for volunteers and you might be able to rack up college credit while helping out worthy causes. Also, volunteering at an organization you like is a great way to meet others interested in the same things as you.
When it comes to making new friends, don’t underestimate the power of making conversation with some random person at the bus stop. One of my good friends and I met while we were both waiting for the bus one morning. I made a simple comment about how the bus is never on time and that was enough to get us laughing about other things. People love talking about themselves, so take advantage of that. Ask them what their major is or about the tattoo on their arm.
Try a couple of these techniques and you’ll never again find yourself short of a new friend.