Situation: Person says hello to you.
Action: Say hello back.
Situation: Person doesn't say hello to you.
Action: Say hello to them.
Situation: Person initiates a conversation with you.
Action: Have a conversation. By which I don't mean answer all questions with 'yes', 'no' and 'don't know'. Volunteer enough information or an opinion to give them something to respond to.
Situation: You recognize that accent.
Action: Say, 'You sound local! Where are you from?'
If you are both in a home university, this is a big moment to share pride in your local area. After all, you are surrounded by people who have chosen to study in it. Discuss them.
If you are both on campus miles from home, then swap stories about how you got there. You've set off from the same point A and arrived at the same point B. Surely there's conversation in that!
Situation: You don't recognize that accent.
Action: Say, 'Oh! Where are you from?'
Situation: It's obvious where they're from. It says so on their t-shirt.
Action: Say, 'Oh! You're from *insert place-name*'
NB This is now a rich stem of conversation. Mine it. Discuss anything that you can think of which pertains to their homeland (without being offensive). Talk about sport; vacations; landmarks; use this opportunity to clear up urban myths and stereotypes. Make their home town/city/county/state the most interesting subject ever.
If that dries up, or you can't think of anything, default to their recent experiences. They've just had to pack up and move a certain distance. How was that for them then? Is it looking like a good decision so far?
Situation: Person is sitting in a corner on their own, people-watching and/or looking scared stiff.
Action: Assess the environment. If you can sit near, without invading personal space, do it. Wait a short time, so you're both used to being in proximity, then make a 'safe' comment. (Safe: general stuff about the goings-on in the room; weather; 'bit weird being here, isn't it?'). At the very least, say 'hello', though that might be a little too direct for this one.
A decent opening line is, 'Great spot for people watching, isn't it? I always feel a bit weird about just jumping in.'
Situation: Person is sitting alone crying or otherwise looking upset.
Action: Dude needs a friend. Go and be one. They are either a long way from home and homesick; figuring that they just made a terrible mistake being here; feeling like they will never fit in; or something very specific has occurred. Or all of the above. Or none of it. You'll never find out, if you don't go and do the decent thing.
A good opening line is, 'Hey, nothing is ever that bad really. What's up?' And, if you have a tissue handy, offer it.
In truth, it doesn't matter what you say, as long as you aren't laughing. This person just needs someone right there, right now.
Situation: Person is extremely loud and extrovert, taking the lead in a room full of strangers.
Action: Stand by them. Follow them. Stay as close as you can without being a creepy stalker. This is currently the top dog and you will find friendships through them. Hopefully even with them, as they have the skills in abundance that you lack.
Oh! And don't be fooled by them. They're just as intimidated. They just deal with it better; and the friendship that they are trying to attract is with you. Or, at least, people just like you. You fit the bill anyway, so answer the call to acquaintance.
Got a different scenario? Leave it in the comments and I'll add it to the list with my advice. Good luck!
Add your comments, friends!
LOL I love your comment about females in male universities! That would surely work.
Thank you for your more serious note about keeping up to date. That is a very valid point, especially the part about staying true to your own opinions. University and college is a great place to widen your horizons, and not just follow the herd on what you do or do not like.
Fast food and students have always gone well together.
To me, a student kitchen is a great place for experimentation. You're too embarrassed to phone home to find out how to cook (thus incurring the mirth of your parents), so you go for it in whatever way presents itself.
There's also the poverty aspect. I invented grilled cheese and sage and onion stuffing toasted sandwiches; plus my signature spaghetti with pot noodle topping dish. There are whole reasons why my friends don't look to me for great meals...
I had to laugh while reading 2uesday's comment (not that I don't agree with her!:-). I didn't know how to cook when I was in college :-) And that's true for a whole lot of people over here. We learn how to cook only when we're done with school. Well, I'm not generalizing, and I do see a trend where students learn to make a few dishes, but I'd still say most students can't cook. Many students in Bucharest take trains to go home at the end of the week, and bring food with them when they return to Bucharest. When that runs out, there's Turkish-style shawarma (spelled shaorma, plural shaorme, over here). Apparently Romanians eat an average of 230,000 shawarmas a day and Bucharesters 25,000 (as of this summer). (The next top spots go to pizza and Chinese food.)
I can't imagine you ever struggling to make friends! I too enjoy making friends now, but I was very shy when I entered University. I still cringe now in memory. I'm very glad that I made the effort though.
It is amazing the strong bonds of friendship formed while in college. I enjoy making friends and while it is difficult for others especially while entering college, this is good helpful advice. :)K
I'm sorry that such things happened to you, Brenda; though it sounds like the outcome was good. I agree that things happen for a reason.
Great article Jo. I really missed a lot. I got married 3 days out of high school to get away from my abusive mother. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I did go to college and finish while I was raising a family. I wish I could have gone away to college, but circumstances prevented it. I strongly feel that everything happens for a reason.
20 years ago, I was at University. I got chatting to the lad who is right now sitting three foot away from me. He and I have just returned from a few days away with a third Uni friend. These are life-long friendships that we are making there.
University...sweet memories...Take advantage of your time there (learn) but also meet people, it's way easier than it sounds. And you'll prolly be in touch with at least a few of then for the next 20 years or so.
Paul - The checklist is now up-dated with the opening lines that you requested. :)