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How to Make Friends on Campus: A Guide for Freshmen

Arriving at college in a new town where you don’t know many people can be daunting and finding your place may seem like an impossible feat. I remember moving to Gainesville as a freshman and barely knowing anybody. It was intimidating at first, but I was able to find my people and turn this swamp into a home. I can assure you that your fellow Gators are some of the most friendly and welcoming people out there. Here are some tips to help you seem more approachable and give you the confidence to make new friends. 

  1. Treat people like they are already your friend 

Sometimes talking to a new person can be scary, but if you act like they’re already your friend, it can help you feel more comfortable. If you present yourself to someone like you’ve known them for years and act like yourself, they will likely respond to your energy by being more open with you too. I also use this as a mental hack to trick my mind into feeling at ease with someone instead of nervous about making a good first impression. When I think of them as somebody I already know and feel comfortable with, it positions them as less intimidating in my mind and rather as someone who I can be myself with. 

  1. Say ‘hi’ to everyone 

Your next best friend could be living right down the hall from you or sitting in your lecture. Sometimes life is funny, and a friendly smile and a “hello” can lead to a lifelong friendship. Even if you don’t strike up a conversation with them right away, if you see them again, they will recognize you as a friendly face and will be more inclined to introduce themselves. People are attracted to happy and positive people, so if you are walking around smiling at everybody and saying hello, you will find that strangers will be drawn to your energy. Some of my best friendships started simply with a “Hi! How are you?” Say hello to the girl next to you in your lecture, the guy next to you on the bus and the group of kids laughing at the dining hall. 

  1. Follow a routine 

Following a routine allows you to not only create organization and flow in your life, but it will also allow you to see the same people around every day. For example, if you go to a Southwest Recreation Center hip-hop fitness class every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., you will start to see the same people there every week and will be able to start talking to them naturally. You can do this anywhere, whether it’s at the gym, library or dining hall. Show up to the same places regularly and try to strike up a simple conversation with those familiar faces around you. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there 

Not everybody you try to reach out to will give you the same energy back or become your best friend, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Rejection is scary, but you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. If there is someone that you’d like to be friends with, simply ask them to grab coffee with you one day or go to the library to study. If there is an event you’d like to go to, don’t be afraid to go alone and introduce yourself to people you see there. Even just asking the person in front of you at the Hub Chick-fil-A a simple question can lead to friendship.

  1. Join a club

If all else fails, join a club. There is such an abundance of clubs on campus that you are sure to find one that suits your interests. One of the easiest ways to make new friends is to join a club. You will be going to regular meetings with the same people who have shared interests, so it is the perfect place to meet like-minded students. All you have to do is recognize what you are interested in, and there is likely already an established club for it. From hula hooping to pre-professional or culture-based organizations, there is something for everyone. Be an active member once you have joined by attending socials and participating in discussions at meetings. You will have friends in no time. 

Friendships matter and the relationships you build now can end up lasting a lifetime. Forming solid friendships will allow you to navigate the difficulties of college and life with a partner by your side to help you tackle it all. If you follow these tips and don’t give up, I am certain you’ll find that it can be a lot easier and less frightening than you think to make friends.

Elysia is a features writer at Her Campus UFL with a major in Economics and minor in Business Administration. Her interests include writing, traveling, yoga, and reading.
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