Your first day at university may be intimidating. New buildings, fresh faces, everything seems unknown. The key is to not panic. In two weeks, you will learn every secret behind those walls. You will know what the best vending machine is and where to get the cheapest coffee, and even secret passages to avoid the student traffic going to classes. Faces will start to become familiar to you, and unfamiliar ones will cross your path every day.
We all know how important the first impression is when meeting someone new. The best thing to remember is an old cliché: be yourself! We know it seems obvious, but there really is no better advice than to be yourself to break the ice.
A good way to start is by knowing your classmates. You’ll be spending a lot of time together and some of them will become your friends for life, so don’t rush friendships or relations. You’re bound to have some things in common if you’re in the same course!
Also, be helpful. University is also about sharing. Being kind to your classmates by sharing class notes or helping them when they need to find that book in the library is a great way of making new friendships.
So how can you put this into practise?
We know it’s easy to say that you should start a conversation with your classmates, but approaching someone new isn’t always that simple. This is why ice breakers were invented. Ice breakers are conversation starters that are meant to help create a connection with new people, and a good one can help you make a memorable first impression, while a bad one is certain to turn the conversation into a disaster. So how do you start a meaningful conversation with someone new?
1. Ask a question
Something as simple as “Do you know where our next class is?” or “What did you think of this class?” may be enough to break the ice and start a conversation. Questions are great because they can be about anything — someone’s name, where they’re from, whether they like cheese — and people usually answer when they’re asked something (if not just for the social pressure).
2. Make a comment
Commenting on a situation that you are both living may create a bond between two people. Laughing at how you’ve gotten something stuck in the vending machine or a simple eye roll during class is enough to start a conversation.
3. Use clichés
Clichés are used so frequently because they are effective and work well. You can use them anywhere. It’s not really about what you say, it’s about letting the other person know that you want to start a conversation.
4. Say hello
A good old fashioned hey is a good way to start a conversation with the person seated next to you. It’s a reliable option when you’re too nervous to think about something else. It’s perfect for shy people — it’s short and sweet, and you’re guaranteed to have an answer back. There’s also the not-so-old-fashioned…
5. Offer a beer
The best ice breaker of all? Beer. As soon as the gold liquid touches your lips, you’ll end the evening with plans for the following weekend. Just say the magic words when you finish class for the day and after following all these tips: Wanna go for a beer?
Universities have welcome days where older students will show you around the campus; you have workshops and extracurricular activities that will make you feel closer to the student community; and every university will have their own parties where you can meet everyone from different courses and follow these tips on how to break the ice.
The most important thing: enjoy yourself. Know that you are not the only one experiencing this. A lot of your colleagues are as scared as you are. It’s a new chapter for everyone, and I assure you, it will be the best time of your life.
Thanks for reading this post!