College is a time to meet new people and try new things. From endless dining hall lines to club events to random orientation meetings, college was designed to help you bond with those around you. You never know when you’re going to make new friends, and it usually happens when you least expect it! Here are seven unexpected places where you could find your new college friends.
1. The Elevator
By the end of the semester, you’ll become well acquainted with a lot of the people living in your residence hall. Many of those relationships will begin in the elevator. From people who live on floor two to the residents of floor eight, almost everyone will need to take a ride in this machine at some point.
Rachel, a senior at University of Tulsa, saw her eight-second ride in the elevator as a chance to meet someone new. “Someone once got on the elevator with his bike, and I was totally squished to one side [of the elevator] with this guy,” she says. “It turned out that the guy was in my history class… and I got a new study partner.” While that might have been a crammed elevator, it certainly made room for a new friendship!
Rather than suffering in awkward silence, try to comment on the situation to ease the tension in the elevator. Try making a comment on something the person is holding or wearing, like, “Hey, that’s a pretty cool bike. Where did you get it?” Even volunteering to push the button and asking which floor the other person needs can make you seem more approachable and open the door for conversation.
2. The Dining Hall
Most collegiettes tend to eat around the same time every day. Besides regulating your diet, sticking to your routine will allow you to see some familiar faces around the salad bar and in the pizza line. Eating dinner around 6 p.m. every night and going to the same dining hall just because of its convenient, next-door-to-your-dorm location can result in some unforeseen friendships. Soon, an encounter like, “Hey, I think I’ve seen you here before. I’m Jessica. I live in the dorm right next to this dining hall,” can occur at the dessert table with someone else who also gets dinner around 6 p.m. And maybe you’ll even end up getting dinner with one of those familiar faces in the future! You never know.
3. Your Favorite Study Spot
Like the dining hall, by continuously going to the same place to study, you’ll begin to see the same people. If you always study at the on-campus coffee shop after your chem lab every Monday and Wednesday, you might run in to the same people who are also always studying at the time.
“I met one of my good friends Leah at a Panera once. She was sitting at the table next to me, and it turned out she went to the nursing school that’s next door,” says Sarah, a fifth-year student at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. “We ended up having lunch together… and we still keep in touch.”
Even though you might not go to the same school as that person, you don’t have to rule out a potential friendship! By keeping an open mind, you can make some lifelong friends. Just make sure you’re not in a designated silent section of the library before you decide to break the ice and strike up a conversation. If someone looks immersed in their studies, let them focus.
4. The Laundry Room
While the laundry room isn’t the most glamorous place on campus, it’s one place that everybody is guaranteed to frequent (at least, we hope so!). And that makes the laundry room the perfect place to meet people. Between switching out loads and folding your T-shirts, there’s plenty of room for some decent conversation.
Alyssa, a junior at Butler University, was putting her clothes into the dryer when a friendship stumbled into her lap. “I met someone in the laundry room named James,” she says. “We kept running into each other there the first couple weeks of school… He was smart and hilarious at the same time. I ended up becoming friends with him and his two guy friends.” Match made in the laundry room.
And who knows, you might even be lucky enough to attend a party in this unexpected, fresh-smelling location! Amanda, a sophomore at Loyola University Chicago, met one of her friends at a laundry room party. “I started talking to [my friend] Claire at a birthday party thrown in my dorm laundry room,” she says. “There was incredibly loud, old 1970s tunes blasting in the tiny laundry room… around 30 people were dancing on eight washers and dryers. Just a laundry room full of honors kids blowing off steam right before finals.” From providing the machines to keep your clothes clean to providing the space for one unique birthday party, laundry rooms are the perfect unexpected place to branch out.
5. Riding the Bus
Depending on where your dorm is located, you’ll probably spend a lot of time on the bus to and from class each day or even to and from a night on the town. But you can even meet some interesting new people on your journey to and from your hometown for breaks.
Morgan, a junior at the University of Missouri, did just that. “I met a girl on the shuttle back to Columbia, MO, after winter break,” she says. “She happened to be from Texas too and was in a long-distance relationship with a guy who went to A&M like [I was], so we bonded over that.” Just when you think you’re done making friends, there’s always room for one more. They could even be sitting next to you on your next bus ride home and have a plethora of things in common with you!
6. Tutoring Sessions
Seeking out extra help with a tutor in college can be beneficial to you in multiple ways. Not only will you gain clarity on some fuzzy concepts you just didn’t understand from that last Econ lecture, but you’ll also have so many opportunities to get acquainted with a new pool of people.
“In math lab, this guy sat next to me and just said, ‘Hi!’ all cheery,” says Katy, a University of Mississippi junior. “I was kind of scared, but then he asked, ‘How are you? Who do have [for math]? What math are you taking?’ There's an unwritten rule to be silent in math lab, so it was kind of comical. He was really nice and plays rugby, and I play ultimate [Frisbee], so we see each other at the fields a lot.” Even in a potentially stressful math tutoring session, you can still make a friend. Sometimes the friendships even find you!
7. Spontaneous Late-Night Outings
With fourth meals comes a culture of spontaneous late-night activities. College kids are up so late that it only makes sense to squeeze in another bite of food and a maybe a fun memory or two before you hit the hay. And it’s during these late-night dashes for sustenance when friendships can form!
Beth, a junior at Illinois Wesleyan University, made a friend on a Taco Bell run one night. “My friends and I had just gotten back to our floor [at our residence hall] when we realized we were starving—and not the kind of starving that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich could solve. We needed real food,” she says. “So we went to Taco Bell, and there was a huge group of girls there from some 1920s-themed party… I ended up exchanging numbers with one of the girls in line because we were both from the same suburb of Chicago.”
Everybody comes to college looking to branch out and meet new people. By taking advantage of this fact, you could walk away from your time in college with some newfound knowledge, a degree, and a few unexpected friendships. Just don’t discriminate as to where these friendships are formed, because the location could simply be the beginning of the story of your awesome friendship! Friendships may come when and where you least expect it, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!