Moving to a new school or college brings plenty of chances to start fresh, take exciting opportunities, and meet new people. Although it can sometimes be a little daunting going into a new environment, before long, you’ll feel like part of the furniture (although not literally, we hope). We have some words of wisdom to share about how to make friends at your new school or college.
As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ You shouldn’t need to change who you are in an attempt to fit in. You want to find like-minded people who enjoy spending time with you for who you are. This is, of course, easier said than done.
Try to focus on the things you enjoy and the opinions you have. You don’t have to alter your behaviour or views to try and click with people. By being yourself, you’ll naturally gravitate towards the people you’re likely to get along with.
Don’t forget, it’s our differences as well as our similarities that make us interesting and spark conversation. Don’t be afraid of what other people might think of you being yourself. After all, haters gonna hate.
Join a team or club
One of the best ways to meet new people who share the same interests as you is to find a place where like-minded people congregate. At school or college, this generally tends to be on teams or in clubs. If you were previously part of such an organisation, then it shouldn’t be too hard to find one at your new school. However, if it’s your first time, you might need to put yourself out there a bit.
No matter what subject you’re passionate about, it’s highly likely that there’s a club or team that’s at least tenuously linked to it. Chat with a relevant teacher or tutor if you’re struggling to find specific details - they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
When you start at your new school or college, you might feel a little uncomfortable at first. This is totally natural, and every other new starter will likely feel the same. It’s important that you get comfortable with this feeling, at least externally. People are far more likely to approach you if you look approachable.
What does this mean? Well, body language plays a big part. Very few people want to approach someone who’s got their arms folded and a scowl on their face. However, the person who smiles and says hello will find that people are more likely to engage with them. Keep your head up and have open body language, even if you feel a little timid on the inside.
For some people, chatting to others comes as naturally as breathing. Unfortunately, others aren’t so lucky. For those people, we really have to make an effort to strike up a conversation. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reach out and start chatting at school or college. For example:
- Introduce yourself (with a smile!) to whoever you’re sat next to in class.
- Ask if you can sit with a group or individual at lunchtime.
- Break the ice with a compliment, such as a comment on their style or clothing.
- Ask your classmates about the teachers and what their classes are like.
It can take time and practice to really connect with people, but the more you try, the easier you’ll find it. Not everyone will be receptive to you reaching out, and that’s fine. They might be a little shy or not particularly keen on making new friends. At least you tried and put yourself out there.
One of the best ways to get to know people is to get them to talk about themselves. After all, it’s everyone’s specialist subject. Open-ended questions are a great way to get people to open up. Not only does this take the pressure off you to talk, but it often makes people feel like you’re a great conversationalist, even though they’re doing the talking.
Of course, you don’t have to ask questions continuously - you need to participate in the conversation. Instead of asking, for example, ‘So, do you like English?’ (which limits their options in terms of answers), ask, ‘So, what made you choose English this year?’ They’re more likely to engage with you.
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