No man (or woman) is an island, and that holds even more truth when it comes to the college years. You may never feel as vivacious or willing to experience all life has to offer, but it can be difficult to make memories without a couple comrades by your side. And at the rate your life is likely changing, friend-turnover is common and people who have been closely connected for years may drift apart.
So what can you do when your core friend group falls apart and you find yourself becoming that metaphorical island in a sea of unfamiliar faces?
The first, and perhaps most obvious, choice is to join a student organization. Student organizations are an easy way meet people who care about the things you like. Whether your deal is volunteer work, bicycles or Harry Potter, you will likely find at least one on-campus group you’ll click with, and Eastern Michigan University has more than 200 student organizations.
Greek life is a special kind of student organization for those seeking close friendships and camaraderie. Put aside all you think you know about fraternities and sororities and befriend someone involved; you may find that people involved in these groups do not fit the negative stereotypes that have been propagated through the years. Volunteer work, leadership, and a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood are values espoused by many Greek organizations.
Your dorm is also a convenient way to connect with people who are, at the very least, geographically close to you. When your heart has just been shattered and you’ve failed three tests, you’re not going to want to wait for your best friend forever to drive all the way up from “The Middle of Nowhere,” Ohio. This is where having a reliable companion who lives right down the hall from you will come in handy.
The residence halls often host events that will allow you to meet and mingle with other students living in your dorm. Try to stay up-to-date on the happenings and you just may meet your new best friend at one.
Classes are another great way to meet people since you kind of need to attend those anyways (I mean, why are you at college in the first place?). When you have classmates you actually like, the class will be less of a headache and the subject will seem that much easier. Start a study group and meet for coffee beforehand to get to know the students in your class on a more personal level.
You could also snatch up a job on campus. Jobs during this phase of life tend to be transient and not particularly meaningful, but even slapping some sandwiches together can turn some strangers into friends. Even better, you can seek out a job that holds significance to your interests. If you love teaching, try tutoring. If your passion is music, offer lessons. If your deal is writing, try looking into a certain student-run EMU newspaper.
Campus Life also does a great job of bringing students together. With regular events such as Friday night movies, a classy jazz lounge and a lively poetry open mic, Campus Life manages to offer students fun college experiences free of charge. Even if you’re painfully shy, it is worth attending each one of these events at least once; you may meet your new crew at one.
The best tip to offer, though, would be to simply leap out of your comfort zone and talk to people you are not familiar with. Believe it or not, it’s likely nobody here at college knows your past. All of those embarrassing middle school shenanigans are a thing of the past, and no one’s going to make fun of you for that terrifying shirt your mother made you wear for your ninth grade yearbook picture. In other words, you have a blank slate and no logical reason to be afraid that someone will shun you for being a “nerd.”
With this in mind, remember that people can really be more accepting in college. “Nerd” can hardly even be considered an insult when you can find a plethora of “Pokémon,” “Doctor Who,” or “Star Trek” fanboys and fangirls within a mile radius. No matter what your obsession is, there’s a fair chance you will find somebody, or perhaps a few somebodys, to share it with you.
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