By: Ben Lapidus ’22
Let’s start off with a somewhat concerning caveat – I am not an expert in making friends. In fact, I would consider myself to be a bit awkward. This post is for all my like-minded anxious, analytical, and slightly awkward folks that are new to Rochester and may be wondering just how to emerge from a chaotic first few weeks with a network of friends in tow.
- Use your resources
All first-year dorms are outfitted with two especially handy resources; your D’Lion and your First-Year Fellow. For context, your D’Lion is basically your older sibling – they are there to chat, they’ll be the one to discreetly let you know that wearing your ID around your neck is apparently a faux pas (guilty!), and they plan social programs to get everyone mixing. Your Fellow is your academic buddy. They’ll steer you away from overloading your schedule with organic chemistry and calculus III and the other thousand things you discover during your first few weeks here.
But, speaking from experience, these wonderful humans are not just there to do these jobs in isolation. They are coming from weeks of training and hype around your arrival, and they are so excited to get to know you. So, it might feel awkward, but in those first couple days, take a stroll down the hall and give their door a knock! Or stop by a hall program. Or shoot them a text or DM. I am still connected with my D’Lion after four years, I still chat with my residents after three years, and I hope you take advantage of this “Free Space” in the game of friendship.
- Student Organizations!!!
I remember reading these guides as a prospective student and shrugging them off. “How am I supposed to trust this one random person’s experience?” is what I found myself asking. I agree with this sentiment. I’m just a random guest blogger, but I come bearing something more concrete – hard data. I’ve spent three years crunching data from the student activities department and one of the top ways students feel at home here is getting involved in a student organization.
The good news is that this is super easy. Go to the activities fair and push yourself to chat with someone! Once again speaking from experience, these organization members want you to join them. This campus is brimming with people passionate about so many diverse interests, and student organizations are a celebration of all these interests. Bonding over a shared interest makes friendship come in a snap.
- First-year Halls
This one is my favorite. Each first-year building is a little different, but they all have some sort of community lounge. The lounges are special places. They are a magical social lubricant that pushes people together, forcing you to smile at each other as people walk down the hall, and take a pause to listen to whatever song is playing. In my first few days of school, I made the decision to pick up my computer, leave my room, and do my work in the lounge instead of at my desk. That was probably one of my best college decisions – I made some of my closest friendships by moving a couple feet down the hall.
- Go to office hours or recitation
A lot of these tips are great at finding friends outside of class. But, in my experience, it’s nice to have some study-buddies in class to go over notes or complain to about all the things you that have to do. Again, as a somewhat anxious individual, just turning to the person next to me in class was too weird. Recitation and office hours let you meet people in a more intimate setting, and it’s super easy to strike up a conversation or bond over some confusion. Think about it – if you’re having a hard time with the material, you already have something in common with every other person there.
- Give it time
I was stressed thinking about this social transition, and when talking about it, a lot of advice I received was to just not stress about it. Too late! I’m not going to tell you to be this calm and chill person that you just aren’t. However, I am going to tell you that this takes time and it’s emotionally taxing. Trying to be “on” all the time is impossible and you’re going to crash soon enough. It’s not a race. Don’t forget to allocate some time for you. You’re the one moving to a new place. You’re the one that should feel comfortable here.
To wrap up, I want to note that this isn’t a definitive guide. This is just the guide that I needed when I was moving 400 miles to my new home full of new faces. Despite my nerves, it worked out. From my experiences as a teaching assistant, first-year fellow, residential assistant, and student employee, I guarantee there is a group that will benefit from you.