During this September and October, U Chic will be running some great articles (i.e. oldies but goodies from our archives) as a part of our "Best of" Freshman series. Each one will focus on a specific topic designed to ease you into college life, while peparing you for your first year away from home. This week, we're zeroing in on living in the dorms, and how you get into the swing of things while staying both happy AND healthy!
The first day of school is always intimidating, whether it's your freshman year or you're entering your final year of grad school. For most of us, one of the thrills of heading back to school is reuniting with old friends, as well as meeting new ones. First impressions are very important, but don't stress, I've got some great tips for conversation starters that will surely get you some new friends this year!
First rule: Always smile. I know, I know, moving is stressful, school is stressful, but what's the point if we can't find the fun in it all? Whether it's your first time in the dorms, or you're moving into a new apartment with girl's you've never lived with before, be sure to smile your way through the day, no matter how much your nerves are eating away at you! Those who are smiling are WAY more approachable than someone who appears grumpy and irritated. If you look like you don't want to be there, your roommates might peg you as the cranky one- not the best way to start off the year…
Next, whether you know these girls, have heard rumors about your new roommies/dormmates, or you know nothing about them, it's important to put yourself out there. If someone else isn't taking the initiative to gather the group together, do it yourself! Simply suggest that you all meet at a certain time in a common area of the floor or apartment you're sharing. Now, for many of you living in the dorm, your RA may already have such bonding activities planned, but regardless, it's up to you to really open up and make new friends. If you're the organizer, suggest that everyone bring something to the meeting that is meaningful to him or her, (I strongly suggest pictures/or books). Yes, this may SOUND cheesy, but trust me, it works. It will give you all a chance to share something (that everyone else might not have already know), plus, if you're living with friends, it can only make the bond stronger.
Now, not everyone has perfect roommates, however, there's always a common ground. After sharing something about yourself, truly make an effort to keep the conversation going. Tell a story of something you did this summer that made an impact on you, or something you're looking forward to doing this coming school year (even if it's something as small as a great book you read, or a vacation with your family). Odds are, someone in the room can relate, thus bringing about a new opportunity to get to know each other further. This doesn't mean dumping any kind of personal baggage (breakups, negativity, etc) on your new roommies. It's good to start off on a positive note. Trust me, nobody wants to be known as the girl who's still pining over her ex. Think positive – you're starting a new year, with new friends, in a new setting. What could be more exciting?!
If all else fails, talk location, location, location. Playing the "Do you know" game can get old after a while. But if you're struggling to find something to talk about, discussing hometown stories, sports teams, etc, will almost always bring about the discovery of a mutual friend, relatable story, etc. And if this doesn't work (which I highly doubt it won't), you can ALWAYS discuss academics. Odds are, some of you are either in the same classes, or have taken the same class in a previous semester. Chatting about academia can never fail. If you've already been there/done that, think about other fun ways to get your new friends amped up and chatting. Invite everyone over to your room for some Guitar Hero, or offer up some sweet snacks or refreshments to follow the hot and sweaty task of moving day.
Regardless, if you have nothing else in common, you all go to the same
school and are about to embark on what will surely be a fabulous year together! So remember, smile, be approachable, and really put yourself out there. It will make for some great conversations and serve as the beginning point fpr some of your friendships!
– Katie Reynolds