Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Welcome ‘15ers! As you embark on the scary, yet quite fun, adventure of making friends and lovers, there are some tips that you should know. Gathered from my personal experience, complemented with a highly unscientific survey of my friends, these tips are things I wish I could have told my freshman-year self. Use this advice accordingly and note that it applies for meeting both friends and lovers.
Here they are, in no particular order:
Get out of your comfort zone. Whether it is the type of class, club, event, or even people that make you uncomfortable, purposefully put yourself in these situations. You’ll learn from this, grow from it, enjoy it, or just have a funny story to tell later. You only have four years at Swarthmore and you—and the school—are paying a LOT of money for this. Take advantage of everything.
Go to lots of introductory club meetings. In these meetings, you’ll kill several birds with one stone. One, you’ll see what clubs/extracurriculars interest you. Two, you’ll get a good idea of the different clubs out there. Three, you’ll find new people you jive well with and make new friends! Still, make sure to only join one or two—no more than four.
Facebook(/G+/Cygnet) stalk people. Check out the hotties, the hipsters, and the lazy ones who forgot to submit their pictures. People always love it when you know them already. It’s an implicit compliment…if you play it right.
Participate in well-lit parties. In grungy dance parties in Paces and its ilk, you can’t see people or engage in good conversation (a classic Swarthmore occurence). You can do so in dorm rooms, hall crawls, lounges, and other not-so-sketchy places.
Eat in Sharples, even if you’re by yourself. Someone might end up joining you. Do this especially during orientation week because it is the ONLY time of year where it’s okay for strangers to sit next to you and introduce themselves.
Don’t get into a relationship too soon and latch onto the significant other. You’ll dramatically restrict your social options once you start hanging out 24/7 with one person. Explore your platonic and amorous options (but don’t get too crazy).
Diversify your partying and your Sharples dates. Ever wonder how you always end up hooking up with the same people and eating with the same friends? It’s because you hang out with the same people and at the same places! Go to dinner with different people. Don’t always go with the same hall group, same club group, or just same group, period. This creates cliques and excludes people. And don’t always go to the same place, you’ll come down with a case of ennui.
Make a popular person your best friend. And don’t burn your bridges with popular people.
Don’t be an annoying person, while sober, drunk, or high. No one will want to hang out with you.
Take advantage of Swarthmore’s diversity. Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a specific demographic. Explore your classmates’ different socioeconomic, racial, religious, sexual, and ethnic backgrounds. You’ll discover some pretty incredible people.
Go abroad. It will make your friends miss you more and you miss your friends more. It cements these relationships and builds a new cache of funny stories to tell them. You’ll also take a nice, much-needed break from hanging out with them too much at Swarthmore and meet new people abroad.
Be hygienic. Don’t smell bad. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, wash your pits, and dress in laundered clothes. Don’t be THAT dude. (Alternative: Be that dude. At least people will talk about you.)
Take advantage of the free stuff. Free events, free food at free events, free parties. You never know where serendipitous sparks will fly.
Share the wealth. Share the food, drinks, and dranks in your room. You’ll always have people coming to visit and to chill. Of course, you also need to keep your room clean so people won’t be repulsed from it in the first place.
Finally, it’s freaking pass/fail. Do whatever pleases you and fills your heart with laughter and joy. You will not have time to do this after pass/fail ends.