Sunday, May 20, 2018
Last updated: 3 years ago

Ask Natalie: First week frustrations

Photo Jack Hauen / The Ubyssey

Photo Jack Hauen / The Ubyssey

“Dear Natalie,
How do people make friends in class? I just sit there and say nothing. I hate participating and people are scary. How do I do this thing people seem to do so easily?”


First of all, friends just don’t happen. You work for them and build lasting relationships based on mutual respect, creative compliments (“You are a unique unicorn, Isabelle!”) and loving lovely people who love you back.


Talk to the people around you. Small classes are the easiest for this, especially language classes where you are nearly always asking each other questions (“Was studierst du?” “Ich heiße Natalie”). But it’s totally doable in just small discussions and even lectures. The same people are going to be in the same classes so at least you will be seeing them on a constant basis.

Ask questions (“What classes are you in?” or “Are you majoring in Poli Sci/Chemistry/Fine Arts?”) and remember to introduce yourself — possibly a few times. At least for me, I tend to forget names nearly as soon as they tell me, which makes me nervous to talk to them again since I might not get it right.

People seem to know each other because they have probably had classes together in the past, took the class together, or even are living in the same house. Chances are they didn’t meet on the first day and become best friends — but that’s been known to happen on occasion.

Making a study group is also a good choice — you already have something in common and an instant reason to see each other on a regular basis outside classes. It might be a little awkward to ask people if they want to join, but once it’s up and running it will be easier to grow friendships as well as having study buddies for the midterms and final.

However, even if you do everything right, sometimes you just can’t make friends in your classes. Don’t get discouraged! People are busy with their own lives and sometimes are jerks — you don’t want to be friends with them anyway.

“Dear Natalie,
First week of classes and I hate them. I’m in first year and a lot of my classes are just “Intro to Whatever” and they all seem boring. I’m just sitting in a lecture hall with 100 other first-years who care just as little as I do and it all seems pointless.”

As you have had very few actual classes and you probably didn’t even touch on any real content, I’d usually just say suck it up. 100-level classes are usually required for more interesting classes, and if you have any interest in the topic at all, usually something of interest comes up later in the term.

But if you honestly are indifferent and already have new classes in mind (that have open seats), then you can drop your class before Sept 22 to completely withdraw from it without acquiring a “W”. As long as you’re not planning on majoring, minoring, or even interested in taking any other upper year courses in that subject — go ahead.

If you’re worried about dropping it, talk to an academic advisor about what the class would count towards or if it’s safe to leave the class for something else that piques your interest. Just keep in mind that they may be a little busy at the moment with the new term and everyone trying to figure out their lives.

On a slightly different note, most first-year classes are full of hung over, uninterested, and tired-of-the-term-already students. Just because your class doesn’t seem that excited about it doesn’t make it necessary for you to be unhappy with your class. If you have a discussion or tutorial, that might make the class more engaging to you. Smaller groups and more conversation can do wonders.

I’d say give it a week. If you still hate it, move on.