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With school back in session – and in-person for the first time in a year and a half – many of us have been thrown into the rush of wanting to make friends after an isolating school year at home. As a current sophomore, I think I speak for many of my fellow classmates when I say that it has been particularly difficult to establish connections given this unique situation of beginning college completely virtually in the midst of a global pandemic. 

For me, this is my first semester on campus, and honestly, it can get a little lonely sometimes without any established community or group of friends to fall back on. I’ve been browsing Reddit and seeing countless posts about people feeling lonely. Many students are looking to make friends because they didn’t really get to know anyone through online classes, and it’s been comforting to see that I’m not alone in my loneliness. It’s not exactly an easy process, but I feel like things are looking up for all of us. Despite these doubts and fears we might have now, it will turn out better than expected. 

I’m still trying to figure things out myself, but here are some tips I’d like to share based on my first two weeks in Berkeley: 

Reach Out

Don’t be afraid to talk to random people. Honestly, no one really knows anyone, so go out on a limb and strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. I’ve been challenging myself to talk to at least one person in each of my classes and getting their socials. It’s helpful to realize that there are plenty of people who are also looking to make friends, so if you take that first step, they’ll probably meet you in the middle. You’re not going to become best friends for life with everyone you meet (and that’s OK), but it doesn’t hurt to establish a connection. 

Join Clubs and Organizations

This piece of advice has been repeated time and time again, but there’s a reason it’s so widely promoted. Joining a club or organization is a great way to meet people who share your interests and be part of a smaller community, especially at such a large public school like Berkeley. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd, so find somewhere to anchor yourself. For example, joining Her Campus last semester was really helpful to me, because it allowed me to at least come to Berkeley knowing some people and feeling some sense of connection to campus. 

Take Advantage of Opportunities

Say yes to opportunities that come your way (within reason, of course). If someone invites you to grab food, go! If a social or event seems even vaguely interesting to you, check it out! Just go out and put yourself out there. During my first week here, I didn’t have much to do, so I would go on walks around campus. One of those times, I was just chilling on a bench when someone came over and started talking to me. We got along really well and made plans to meet later in the semester. Recently, my roommate and I were walking past a social and they invited us to join them. We took them up on their offer and actually ended up having a really fun time. 

If you’re ever feeling lonely, just remember that you’re not alone in that feeling. Connections take time and effort to build. You and me — we’re both going to figure this out. 

Karen Li

UC Berkeley '24

Karen is a sophomore studying computer science. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, journaling, hanging out with her dog, and binging TV shows. She strives to reach others through her writing and hopes to write meaningful pieces that someone, somewhere can relate to or learn from.
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