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Around this time of year, we’re full of suggestions for new students, but just because you’re not a newbie anymore doesn’t mean getting back into campus life is easy. You’re busy, and there’s so much free programming happening every week in Wyckham House that it’s easy to think, “I’ll go next week,” and then watch “next week” slip farther and farther away. What do you do if you’re in your second or third year, or fourth or fifth or sixth (we know how it goes)—and you still don’t feel like MRU is home?
Here are our tips on how to make connections—and stay connected—on campus after all the newness has worn off.
Reduce Your Stress
It’s really hard to feel connected to the community around you if you’re struggling just to keep your head above water. If you always feel too busy and you’re having trouble taking care of yourself, it makes sense that you haven’t been putting much energy into getting involved on campus. You gotta crawl before you can walk! If you’re getting enough to eat, making time for activities you enjoy and find relaxing, and moving your body in a way that feels good on the regular, you’ll be better equipped to throw yourself into the neat stuff you see happening around you on campus.
Get out of your head and back into your body for a bit; go to a garden workshop. There’s a session coming up on October 6 on mindfulness and gardening that will help you de-stress, loosen up and remember that spring’s still a thing.
SAMRU offers a free breakfast every weekday from 8:45am until supplies run out. Grab something nutritious on the go, or stop in for a few minutes of human interaction—pick your poison.
When’s the last time you read for fun? The nice folks at Queer Book Club would love to see you, and you can revel in reading something that has nothing to do with your classes.
Find Your Kind
If you’re showing up at floor parties, department mixers and random events hoping to meet your New Best Friend and then leaving disappointed, it may be time to change your approach. Instead of starting from a place of asking, “What do students do for fun?” try asking, “What am I into?” You, after all, are a catch, and you have amazing taste. Surely there are some cool people at MRU who are into the same things you are.
For some of us, it’s easier to be social-ish when you have a common task to hide behind. If that sounds like you, volunteering may be the way to go. Instead of dancing up to someone at the club to bellow “SO DO YOU LIKE MOVIES CUZ I LIKE MOVIES” in their ear, why not try chatting them up when you have a common cause to talk about?
If you’re a crafty soul, Crafternoon is another great way to gently ease into conversation. You’ll have something to do with your hands, and the worst thing that can happen is you go home with a pretty thing you made.
If you really can’t convince yourself to go to something not related to school, look for opportunities to learn something or build your skill set. Sign up for the Pinnacle Leadership Challenge and you’ll increase your employability, sharpen your resume, and quite possibly meet some other bright young go-getters like you.
Try, try again
Let’s dispense with the notion that feeling connected to the campus community is a thing that just magically happens for anyone. Most people have to try a few times to get it right; there are false starts where you get worn out from the effort, or you’re too swamped with schoolwork to even think about putting yourself out there. So, keep in mind that you probably won’t go from zero to That Person Who Knows Everyone the first time you attend something on campus.
Part of getting better at interacting with people on campus is just doing it a bunch until it gets less scary. That may suck to hear, but the good news is that it gets easier every time you do it. Decide to go to one thing a month for a semester, and set some achievable goals: “I will learn the name of one new person tonight.” “I will stay for at least an hour.” Then, reward yourself because you did it even though it was hard! You’re amazing!
If you keep taking baby steps, you’ll find yourself recognizing faces at events, asking questions at lectures, hearing about new opportunities that interest you…maybe even getting the itch to start up a club of your own. Whatever you decide to do with your university experience, we’re cheering for you with giant foamy fingers every step of the way.