friends,  getting involved

Won’t find this in the Calendar or Timetable.

Hey Aska!
Its my first year at U of T and I’ll be commuting.. Just wondering if you have some advice for meeting people and getting involved.. I just feel like it will be hard meeting people not living in res, can you really make friends in big lecture halls?
Thanks :)c

Tis true. Residence is a pretty easy way to make friends, and NO you really can’t make friends in big lecture halls. BUT residence is also an easy way to make enemies, and there are tonnes of opportunities to make friends on your way to and from big lecture halls.

Let me just say that I had a positive experience in residence, but an easy criticism is that it’s like a continuation of high school (with the same level of gossip, but in a more sophisticated vocabulary). You would make friends in res, but primarily through proximity, not necessarily mutual interest/compatibility.

You have already touched upon possibly the best way to make friends at U of T: getting involved.

Whether you are joining a student society, a club, or an intramural sports team – participating in extracurricular activities gives you a strong chance of meeting people… that you like.

Each College and Department typically has an undergrad student union. I know a bunch of Cinema kids involved that way, and they love it. There are clubs aligned with spirituality, hobbies, political parties… and there are tonnes of student newspapers you can contribute to. I’ll stop listing examples of groups to join, because there are hundreds at the university. The Clubs Fair, happening on Friday, September 4th, is a good way to see what your options are.

But let’s be serious for a moment. Not EVERYONE wants to play a sport. And not EVERYONE is a “clubs” type, which tends to be a specific breed of student (characterized by an ultra-peppy and cliquey ability to over-achieve).

Speaking of student societies, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. Attend Frosh Week and have fun. I mean that in the active sense. Try to get the most out of the experience. There’s nothing I hate more than too-cool-for-school-kids who hide their insecurities by sulking about how “lame” Frosh activities are. Your college’s Student Society will provide other structured opportunities for you to meet people throughout the school year (ski trips, pub nights, formals).

Clubs, sports, social events… what else? Class.

I met some of my favourite people in class. Small classes. Seminars. Tutorials; the type of classroom setting where you have to say your name before you speak. Not only are you forced to talk to your classmates, but sharing a class with someone suggests that you also have some common interests. Where else can one enjoy a marathon conversation with someone about reconstructing morpho-syntactic structure and inflectional paradigms in proto-Semitic?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I am happy to hear that you’re keen to engage in a social network downtown. It seems that the tendency for uninvolved commuters is to leave the city immediately after class, and return to their circle of high school friends – only to return en masse to Richmond St. later that evening in a their parents’ minivans, sporting bejewelled halter tops, excessive eye-liner and 7-UP bottles half-filled with vodka.

That was an unfair characterization. Crystal light is clearly the new 7-UP.

Maybe I’m just bitter because I grew up in rural Eastern Ontario and had dropped all of my high school friends before I even got here. Call me an a-hole, but a boy can only listen to small town folk inappropriately pluralizing words for so long (“yous guys,” “eatin’ at Subways,” etc.). As you can see my campaign to make university friends was born out of necessity.

Generally speaking, I do think that it is really important to expand your social scene at University. This is especially true in a city like Toronto, where you have an opportunity to meet a diverse range of people. Alas, I am preaching to the choir, for you are the one who is asking about making friends.

So, I will conclude with my best advice, which is to be OPEN to meeting new people. Sometimes the best way to make friends is a less desperate/aggressive approach. Sit directly beside someone in lecture, arrive five minutes early to tutorial to engage in small talk, take off your oversized sunglasses and undersized earphones as soon as you enter a building, don’t wear Axe.

If all else fails, substitute human friends with small dogs… or iPhones.

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