An Introvert’s Guide to Making Friends in College

In the weeks leading up to move-in day, the biggest thing I worried about wasn’t how I would adjust to living on my own or how I would do in classes; it was how I would make friends. I read dozens of college blogs to see if there were any tips on the subject, but I found that most of them said something along the lines of “be extroverted.” If you’re an introvert like me, you know that “being extroverted” is much easier said than done. Luckily, making friends in college doesn’t require you to stretch yourself in such a way. The best thing you can do is be yourself, 100%. Making friends can often seem tough at the beginning, but if you continue to show your quirky, awesome self, you’ll ultimately be welcomed by some quirky, awesome people. Beyond this, here are a few other tips that worked for me as I made new friends this semester.

Branch out!

Whether you know dozens of people going to the same college as you or don’t know anyone, the start of college is the time to branch out. Everyone is in the same boat at this point, and people are super eager to make new friends. It’s easy to cling to the people you know, but branching out and trying to make new connections at the beginning is much easier than trying to do the same later on. If branching out doesn’t come so naturally to you, try to challenge yourself to meet three new people a day. Just go up and introduce yourself. I promise, they’ll be glad you did. You don’t have to strike up an elaborate conversation with each of these people or become their best friend. Just learn something about them and see where it goes. You may stay in touch, or you may just smile at them in passing for the rest of the year. Either way, it will not have been a wasted effort.

Don’t be afraid to try out different groups.

During orientation days, you’ll meet more people than you’ve probably ever met in your life. For me, this was probably one of the coolest experiences of college so far. It’s so much fun to meet people who have different life experiences and different stories to tell. The strange part for me was realizing that I would never talk to most of these people ever again. Likewise, as I started attending meetings for clubs, there were some that I found just didn’t click for me. This is completely okay! Not everyone that you meet is going to be your new best friend, and not every group that you join is going to be the right fit for you. Making friends is an ongoing process, so don’t be discouraged if you find that you’re drifting from your initial friends. Keep meeting new people and trying out new clubs until you find the ones that are the best fit for you.

Bond over shared experiences.

If you sometimes find it hard to carry on a conversation, sharing a new experience with someone can be a great way to start a friendship. I bonded with one of my current best friends when we tried out the campus bus system for the first time and ended up on a 45 minute long adventure on the wrong bus home. This was definitely a fun conversation starter and something we still look back on and laugh at now. There are tons of things to do on campus, and it’s completely okay to try out these things with people you just met. I’ve tried new restaurants, attended volleyball games, and played board games on the quad with various groups that I met at orientation. Each of these experiences was a great way to get to know the people better.

Invite your neighbors over for a movie night.

The people that you live with have the potential to be some of your best friends. Neighbors are the best go-to people when you need a buddy to go to dinner with, have a random question about a class, or just need to borrow some ketchup. One way to get to know your neighbors better is to invite them over for a movie night. My roommate and I hold movie nights every Friday, and it has become a pretty popular event on our floor. We still have neighbors that we’ve never met who stop by sometimes, so we’re constantly getting to know new people.

Just be you!

As I mentioned at the beginning, being yourself is the most important thing you can do to make friends in college. Don’t worry about trying to make yourself seem more outgoing than you are; just be you, exactly as you are. Starting over and trying to find new friends in a massive school can be pretty daunting, but if you stay true to yourself, the people you were meant to find will come your way.

Abby

Abby

Class of 2023
I'm a Civil and Environmental Engineering major in the Grainger College of Engineering, and I hope to one day work to lessen society's impact on the environment. I am a major nerd, have a passion for all things outdoors, and love exploring all the different opportunities that the University of Illinois has to offer!

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