Second Time Around: How to Make Friends in College

“She doesn’t even go here!” Join me as I transition to life at Brown, and learn more about our fantastic campus through the ramblings of a recent transfer student. I’m Veronica Fletcher, a junior concentrating in Psychology & Hispanic Studies, and this is my Second Time Around.

As a Transfer Counselor, one of the questions I get most often from incoming students is: how do you make friends at Brown? For me, making friends at Brown has really hinged on finding a balance between the “transfer tribe” and the student body as a whole.

Branching out and finding people you connect with is obviously a hugely important part of anyone’s college experience, which makes it especially worrisome for those who are transferring schools. When I first arrived on campus, I was surprised at how easy it was to make friends with non-transfers. I can attribute this phenomenon to two things in particular: 1) Brown students are generally friendly and welcoming people, and 2) Brown students just love Brown.

Honestly, if you’ve ever met one of us in person, you’ll know what I mean. We can literally gush for hours about our school to anyone who will listen, which makes prospective students, incoming freshmen, and new transfer students especially susceptible prey. I’d meet one person and they’d introduce me to half a dozen of their friends and teammates. I’d recognize a friend of a friend in class, and they’d invite me out to coffee and ask me to join their study group. Then I’d run into a classmate at some party or social event, and we’d end up having a really great conversation. Meeting non-transfers is wonderful – not only can they become lifelong friends, but they can act as temporary guides, experienced locals who can help you navigate the first few murky months at Brown.

For many transfer students, the main avenue for meeting people is through extracurriculars. I know transfer students in almost every area of campus life – publications, performing arts groups, intramural sports, Greek life, and pretty much everything in between. Finding new ways to get involved on campus, either through word of mouth or the Mid-year Activities Fair, is a fantastic way to meet people who share your common interests. Another system for meeting non-transfers is through random housing assignments. That’s actually how I met my closest friends at Brown – I was the new girl who accidentally intruded into their housing group. We clicked immediately and got along so well that we’re actually living together again this year.

I adore my roommates – they are my closest friends, my confidantes, and my greatest supporters. But as non-transfers, I’ve learned that they can’t possibly view or understand my transfer experience in the same way that I do. And that’s okay.

Last month, I had a pneumonia- and stress-induced breakdown, which basically consisted of me sobbing about trying to create meaningful connections at Brown, while freaking out over that fact that I’m attempting to cram two concentrations into 2.5 years. Nobody has their life figured out by junior year. Nobody really, truly knows what they’re doing here. We’re all still figuring ourselves out. My well-meaning roommates kept reminding me of these universal truths, and they’re absolutely right in saying them. But there are some things they’ll never be able to understand. Transferring tacks an additional layer of stress onto all of your actions, choices, relationships… in everything you do at your new school, you feel this obsessive need to create tangible improvements. Everything must be better than it was at your previous school – otherwise, this entire ordeal would’ve been one huge waste of time. When you couple that intense pressure with the increased time-crunch, you achieve a level of mental instability that only other transfer students can comprehend.

In my mind, this is why it’s also crucial to maintain relationships with my fellow transfer students. Although I’ve branched away from many of them in terms of interests, friend groups, campus involvement, etc., it’s always comforting to be back with the people who can understand your experience on a fundamental level.

Thanks for reading! If you have thoughts or questions about this blog post, or any other aspect of the transfer experience, please feel free to email me at veronica_fletcher@brown.edu, or leave a comment in the box below!

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