I am a freshman at Rider and I am having trouble making friends and socializing in general. I am fine walking to class and eating at Daly Dining Hall alone, but I wish I had someone to hang out with. What can I do to get myself out there?
A nervous newbie
Dear nervous newbie,
This question is not as easy to answer as it may seem, because I too still struggle with socializing and putting myself out there the way I would like to. If you truly want to socialize and make friends, start in your classrooms. It may be harder to make friends with strangers in a less controlled setting like Daly Dining Hall, but getting to know your classmates might be an easier, less overwhelming approach.
Making friends within the classroom always worked for me because I was able to see the same faces, study names and get acquainted with people throughout the entire semester. As much as we try to avoid having to partner up for class, it was one of the easiest ways to introduce myself and try to get to know more about another person. The classroom is also the place to get a feel for the kind of friend you do not want. Are you more intrigued by the student who stays in the back or the one who raises their hand for every question?
Once you have mastered the first level of college interaction, you must defeat your next opponent — the cafeteria. As I mentioned previously, Daly Dining Hall is a much less controlled setting. As you walk in, there are hundreds of students and conversations and it can feel overwhelming for a first-year college student. The cafeteria is the primary location to socialize because everyone has a free period between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., the peak of the lunch rush. For someone in your position this may not be your favorite place at the moment because this social scene is more enjoyable for established friendships. But, you have to eat (please eat!) so it is perfectly okay to eat alone. For me, eating alone is ideal because I can get work done or watch Netflix while I do it. You will be surprised at how many students eat alone in the dining hall.
The most cliché, but most effective way to make friends is to get involved on campus. Getting involved on campus was not my top priority when I arrived at college but somehow it found its way to me. Once I joined The Rider News, it forced me to get to know our student body because I soon became a voice for it, informing the the Rider community about what is happening on campus.
Get out of your dorm, go to Daly Dining Hall, the library, Starbucks and events on campus to get yourself acquainted with your classmates because these next four years will go by fast. Find out about yourself first, learn about your likes and dislikes because it will shed some light on who you will feel most comfortable around. Do not jump into friendships because you are lonely. Be selfish with your time and your mind, because nothing real comes from fake friends. So choose wisely.