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Finally made some friends on campus

  1. Sep 26, 2011 #1

    Dembadon

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    I'm not usually one to reach out and make friends with other students. I usually arrive at the library right when it opens every morning (7:00 AM) and find the same, wall-facing spot in the corner to sit and do my work. I study until my first class (9:00 AM). I walk into class and grab a seat in the front row, right at the very center. I open a book and read while I wait for class to start, and when class is over, I get up and book-it back to my spot in the library to get 30 minutes of studying in before my next class.

    This type of behavior has always made me seem aloof and unapproachable (or so I'm told), and I hadn't thought it mattered to me that much in a university setting. After all, most of the conversations I hear while waiting on the elevators or eating lunch are about things I've no interest participating in anymore. I just have different goals and priorities now, so I'm not interested in making friends with 90% of the people I see.

    I definitely underestimated how important it is to make friends on campus. I had started to feel very alone and depressed. My wife kept suggesting that I find someone to study with, but the weird thing was that this was usually just the way I liked it--alone. However, it wasn't until I joined the math club that I found out just how motivating and refreshing it can be to hang out with people to whom you can relate.

    The math club is great. I've never met a group of more genuine and friendly people (PF being an exception), and I think this is the first time I've actually felt like I fit-in with a group in an academic setting. It's helped me much more than I anticipated, and I'm actually looking forward to the next meeting.

    Why am I posting this? I'm hoping it might help someone who's trying to figure out why they feel overwhelmed and/or depressed even if they're not having any problems academically. I didn't realize my emotional funk was due to feeling somewhat isolated in a large, fast-paced environment, because it was something that had never really been much of an issue 'till now.

    So, even if groups aren't normally your thing, give one a try. You might enjoy it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2011 #2
    I never really had a problem making friends, but on the other hand most of my friends didn't share the same interests as I did and it was a bit frustrating. But I don't think I could be that lonely.
    To be honest only there were only 2 people in university I could really relate to, but I liked having other "casual" friends.

    By the way, how old are you? Since you mentioned wife, you're probably somewhat older than I was at college. It may be kind weird to be around tons of young people that are more interested in drinking and partying than anything else.
     
  4. Sep 26, 2011 #3

    Dembadon

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    I'll be 28 in a little over a month. You're correct in assuming it's been weird being older than the average college student. I think it contributed to my desire to be left alone while on campus.
     
  5. Sep 26, 2011 #4

    S_Happens

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    I'm in a similar boat, although minus the actual funk. I'm not really concerned with getting to know anyone on campus. I'm also 28, married, and returning to school, so don't share motivations or priorities with almost anyone here. To be honest, most everything I overhear makes me sick. Not that I didn't squander my first go 'round, but I have too much to lose and want to distance myself from anything that could prevent my success.

    I have met a few people, specifically to study with. I still keep my social group that I had before, although it's a lot less frequent.

    I'm usually quite active socially, but this degree is far more important to me than making a few friends that I don't intend to keep. I still make contacts that are beneficial, but since I have so much industry experience, it's not overly important that they be my current classmates.
     
  6. Sep 26, 2011 #5
    I think you are placing some serious misjudgement to say that you wouldnt like 90% of the people. I am surprised time and time again to find out what people are really all about. Sure, there are still people who are not worth your time, but it certainly is more than 10%.... Take risks and get to know people. Especially in a scientific/ mathematical field (which I am honestly surprised no one has said this), communication and ability to work with people is almost a prerequisite to succeeding.

    Are you taking upper div classes or GE classes? If you are in upper div, I would recommend getting to know people regardless of their age. When in community college, I had 4 really good friends, each with extremely different backgrounds, and ages 28, 27, 23, and 20 (I am currently 22). As long as you are smart, nice, open, and willing to listen, almost everyone will be willing to befriend you.
     
  7. Sep 26, 2011 #6
    My experience was similar: when I first entered college I still had plenty of friends from high school nearby and didn't really consider making new friends a priority. The thing was that most of my friends dropped out of high school and divided most of their time between television, video games, drinking, etc. At the time, this was all I really had exposure to and so it seemed normal to me. Before long I started working at an Italian restaurant and my co-workers were incredibly interesting people! Literally all but two of us emigrated from either Italy, Ethiopia, or Mexico and they all had fascinating stories to tell. They liked languages, history, politics, science - so many things!

    It really took this experience for me to see how dull my friends were and that social interactions could be infinitly more enjoyable. The owners closed the restaurant at the height of the recession, and I was quickly cut off from my interesting co-workers. It really became an emotional burden. I wanted to converse with people about something - anything - interesting which I simply couldn't get from my old friends; They literally had no interests or jobs and frankly had little to offer other than their presence.

    Shortly after, I started working several math and physics tutoring positions at my school where I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of students of all ages. Basically this job has offered me a distilled batch of passionate students, and I have made so many valuable friendships that I too sometimes advocate getting involved in school activities.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
  8. Sep 26, 2011 #7
    I know what you mean; so many young people seem to be more interested in the next Hollywood break up or Justin Bieber than academics, current events or meaningful discussions.
     
  9. Sep 26, 2011 #8

    Dembadon

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    Just for clarification: My communication abilities and willingness to work with others in a job setting have always been excellent. My issue was with pursuing friendships at a university. I don't necessarily have to be friends with people I work with in order to be successful in my field, but I have always been friendly. Maybe that's what you mean? Strictly professional relationships aren't uncommon in the field I've been working in for the past 10 years or so (IT), which requires a great deal of competent communication.

    I didn't expect anyone to take my 90% figure literally, and I agree that I'd probably like more than 10% of the population. I'm sure when I'm in my junior and senior year, I'll begin meeting more classmates with similar interests. This was never in doubt, but my issues were current, so that was the motivation and point of reference for the original post.
     
  10. Sep 26, 2011 #9
    Ahh. It seems that you are just a little disenchanted about your situation? Sorry if I was speaking on the wrong subject. I think just getting involved in things you like to do on campus, be it sports, academia, or various events, would be the way to meet people with similar interests. It is hard, and something I am still working on (and I have been working on this type of thing with a therapist for a couple years), but hearing people now tell me they think I am outgoing and funny is a real treat, and it only builds on itself.

    BTW, what school are you attending?
     
  11. Sep 26, 2011 #10
    I can relate to this, I was exactly your age when I started back at school, and you are mostly right. I really had no interest in a friendship extended beyond the confines of the classroom with virtually anyone in any of my first/second year courses. Now that I am taking actual physics/maths I find there are quite a few people that share similar interests, are closer to my age, and a bit more mature.
     
  12. Sep 29, 2011 #11
    The secret is that most people don't have friends left and right, and of those popular people that do, the people may not be their real friends, but others who're looking for security themselves, seeming to get it by hanging out with someone who's popular.

    Real friends are few and far between. Once they're a good friend, they're usually a friend for life. I would say I have seven real good friend, having picked up one about every 4 years since I graduated high school.

    Meanwhile, I've known and hung out with many acquaintances.
     
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