In fifth grade, I was a little girl who couldn’t open her own water bottles. I remember the first day of school, I had to ask the girl next to me if she could open mine for me. Little did I know she would become my best friend for the next nine years. This fall, I’m heading into my sophomore year at Carolina. I can thankfully say I can open my own water bottles now, and I’ve also found some other pretty great friends along the way. Yet one year ago, my biggest fear was not having any friends. I’m from Orlando, and as you can expect, there aren’t many Floridians rushing to go to school at UNC. Though it was relieving to know I was going to a school where I could start completely fresh, I knew there wouldn’t be any recess time or water bottles to help me make friends. I didn’t want to be that one girl who hated college because she lacked a social life, so meeting people became my number one priority. As you say goodbye to your hometown friends this summer, I’ve gathered some tips on how to make new ones here at Carolina.
- Become a regular
The first few weeks of school is the time when everyone starts to get into the groove of things- you learn how late you can sleep in and still make your class, what days Lenoir is serving mac ’n’ cheese, and most importantly, what your go-to study place will be. Your habits probably don’t change much from day to day, so you’re bound to become a regular somewhere. Good news? You’re not the only one. Everyone has a specific schedule they follow, so there’s a good chance you’ll be running into some of the same people over and over. My first year, I was not expecting Carolina to be so cold so early on in the year. By late September, I was already opening up my Florida winter bins. When it was 50 degrees outside and I didn’t want to walk home from the UL late, I would do my homework in one of the study lounges in my residence hall. Turns out, a lot of other people felt the same way. Each day, no matter which lounge I was in, I would see someone familiar. Eventually, I found some of my best friends inside the Horton study lounges. You have no idea how much you can bond with someone over being stressed out about a paper at 2 am.
2. Tag along with your roommate
Having a roommate has a long list of perks, one of them being that their friends will probably also become your friends. When all else fails, don’t be shy about tagging along with your roommate! Last year, my roommate came from a school in Raleigh, so she knew a lot of people coming to campus. It helped me a lot, because those first few nights before I knew anyone, it was her group of friends that made me feel more comfortable. Plus, there will be times your roommate invites his/her friends to your room, so it helps to be friendly with them! Make sure you get to know them, you might be seeing them a lot throughout the year.
3. Bake cookies
On move-in day, two girls in my hall baked cookies for everyone. They had moved in early because of Carolina Kickoff, so while everyone else was coming in and out with boxes and mini fridges, they were already settled into their rooms. They used their time to come up with an idea on how to meet people, and who doesn’t love cookies? That afternoon, they went door to door handing out cookies, and if there’s one thing college students love, it’s free food. If you move in early for whatever reason, try this tip out! It’s a super easy, nonintimidating way of meeting everyone on your floor. Everyone will remember the person that gave them their first piece of free food at Carolina.
4. Accept invitations
The two guys that lived next to me, went knocking door to door on the first afternoon asking people if they wanted to join them for dinner. If someone in your hall does this, GO!! I know everyone has pictured that scene from a movie where a kid is sitting alone in the dining hall. Though now I understand this is perfectly normal, I remember my freshman year I was super paranoid about being alone. The fact I didn’t have to worry my first night about eating alone seriously calmed my nerves about Carolina. Not everyone you meet your first day will be your instant best friend, but it doesn’t hurt to try. These two guys, Josh and Tyler, would end up being some of my best friends.
5. Don’t be afraid to initiate!
For the first football game of my first year, my roommate woke up sick. I had planned on going to the game with her, but she was a mess, and I knew there was no getting her out of bed. For a moment, I panicked. There was no way I was going to miss my first Carolina football game (even if we ended the season 3-9, basketball school right?), but there was also no way I was going to go by myself. An hour before kick off, I finally got the courage to go down the hall and ask some of the girls if I could join them. I didn’t even have to explain myself- they welcomed me with open arms. We may have lost that game, and many more, but I made some of my best friends by swallowing my fear and just asking them. Don’t be scared to do the same.
6. Join Clubs
Finally, the most obvious one. Joining clubs and organizations at UNC is the easiest way to make friends. Join Greek life, try out for a sports team, take part in service events…anything you do will make you a friend. Tar heels are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet, take advantage of it.