You made it! You’re finally away from your parents, living in New York, and going to a really good school. Unfortunately, you probably didn’t get into Columbia based on your social skills. Your 100+ Facebook friends notwithstanding, Bwog thinks you could use a few pointers on socializing for your freshman year. Here, then, is some advice from Bwog staffer and social butterfly Brendan Ballou on how to make friends:
– DO play a get-to-know-you-game. Nothing reveals compatibility more than a shared birthday month, except perhaps Facebook.
– On a related note, DO NOT friend me. Yes, we share an interest in Wes Anderson. And so do the dozens of other people in the ‘Wes Anderson is a cinematic genius’ Facebook group. But a shared interest is no closer to real friendship than your Facebook profile is to your real personality. Despite your prolific summer IM’ing, your college friends will have to be found in the real world.
– Do talk to strangers in John Jay. The college cafeteria is nothing like the high school one. For one thing, the old guy from Sister Act II eats here. For another, people are in general friendly and willing to share a table. If you have nothing else to do, etch tray puns.
– But DO NOT talk about the SAT. You got 2400? What does that even mean? Surely, surely there’s something else to talk about? The AP’s?
– Do offer candy. People will be more willing to notice your charming personality if you offer them gummi bears. Besides, it worked for John Mark Karr
– DO Leave Carman. If it’s Saturday night, and you’re spending another evening partying in the Freshman dorm, try this: Look out your window, past the haze of smoke in your room. See all those lights? That’s New York City, and it’s probably why you applied to this school. Don’t worry, you won’t become unpopular if you miss a night of parties.
– You also won’t be unpopular if you DO read the Iliad. You’ll have dozens of long, lively conversations about the Lit Hum syllabus. You’ll also have dozens of much shorter, more awkward conversations that end with “Oh, you go to Barnard/SEAS/JTS. What’s that like?”
– Also, Don’t join a cult. While clubs a good way to meet people with shared interests, every club has the potential to become a soul-stealing cult, e.g. The Daily Spectator, Debate Club, Spectator, the Blue and White, The Varsity Show, even Spectator. Go to their meetings, but don’t drink the kool-aid.
– Lastly, DO NOT be yourself. That is, don’t be insecure and homesick. Now, insecurity and homesickness are fine, in fact they are a lot of what freshman year is all about. But most people don’t want to talk about crippling loneliness at a party. Consider instead playing a get-to-know-you game.