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By: Neha Khanna


Entering a new school, a university specifically, is no simple task. There’s so much to organize, remember and learn. Personally, I was very anxious about meeting new people. Coming from high school without any friends to start university with, I was very nervous, especially as I tend to be very shy when meeting strangers.  

I remember the first day of orientation was hectic but also really exciting. It was a chance to start over and possibly recreate a better version of myself. Getting off the subway and walking toward the Student Learning Centre was overwhelming, as there were so many groups of people walking around and talking. For a minute, it seemed like everyone had already made friends.  

I continued into the Kerr Hall quad and I felt a little self-conscious walking around all alone. Despite this, I was confident enough to try and make conversation with a couple of girls standing off near the side. We didn’t really seem to be vibing, so I moved on. 

Honestly, I played with my phone a bit so I didn’t look like I was alone or didn’t have friends. One thing I learned from wandering around by myself was that I’m not being singled out. No one is staring at me wondering if I don’t have friends or if I’m a loner.  Everyone else is also trying to find their way around and look for people to hang out with. From the outside, I often feel like I perceive groups of people to be very close and comfortable but in situations like this, it’s usually not the case.

Tip number one on making friends in university is to not think that everyone has it all figured out, because I assure you they don’t. Everyone is in the same boat, feeling a little nervous and a bit excited about what’s to come.  

I find it easier to talk to new people one on one instead of in a group. Being fairly quiet makes it hard for me to open up in big crowds and I’ll probably get lost in the background if I’m not able to speak enough. I try to find one person to have a conversation with and hope it turns into a friendship. This strategy worked out very well and I made one of my best friends so far by simply walking up to her and starting a conversation. It does take courage to speak to new people and have easy conversations, but if you click, it makes it all worth it. 

Tip number two is to strike up a conversation with one person rather than in a group. This way you create a feeling of lightheartedness to get to know each other in a fun and friendly manner. 

At this point, I’ve found someone standing on their own that I think I can talk to, but of course, I don’t know what to say. In general, starting with a compliment is a good ice breaker and can also ease any tension. I just started by saying hello and introducing myself, which luckily led to an actual conversation. Thinking about questions or topics in advance is also very helpful because chances are there will be awkward pauses at the beginning, and having conversation starters will guide the interaction smoothly. I like to ask, “What do you do in your spare time?” or “What program are you in?” or “Do you have siblings?” 

Tip number three is to ask or prepare open-ended questions, as they’re usually better to elongate the talk and build a relationship faster. 

After the first meeting, it’s best to exchange contact information so you can keep in touch, communicate and continue to develop a friendship. That’s what my friend and I did and planned to meet up again, which is an essential part in making good connections. Talking face to face is much more effective than over text and that’s how you create memories. 

When this friend and I met for the second time, we made more plans to go out and party or attend events. Hanging out with people in different scenarios helps you understand them better and you can quickly find out what you have in common. 

Tip number four is to schedule time to hang out and do things that you like to do.  If you do activities you enjoy with people you like, you’ll have more fun and foster a stronger friendship too. 

It’s now two months into university and if you’re feeling alone or like you don’t have friends, don’t panic. There are other people who may be feeling the same way. It’s always hard at first but if you take the first leap and find that courage within yourself, you can start small relationships that will grow and last. 

You can use these tips to start even small conversations with people to get more comfortable with opening up, then go from there.

Hi! This is the contributor account for Her Campus at Ryerson.
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