Although Pittsburgh is only three and a half hours away, moving to Athens felt like moving to a different planet. I knew very few people before classes started, and I was genuinely scared that the COVID-19 pandemic would make my chances of meeting new people worse. I’m happy to announce that was far from the truth.
I met so many people during my first year in Athens, but it wasn’t easy. It took a lot for me to reach out to others… Here are some tips for the out-of-state students looking to find new friends and a new home away from home:
Use Facebook and other social media sites
We all see the typical Facebook group posts looking for a roommate: the ones sharing that they “love to go out but are always down for a night in.” While these posts can seem similar to one another, pay attention to social media sites and try to find people with related interests, majors, and even hometowns.
I actually met my roommate through the OU College Roomie site. I didn’t think much of the site at the time, but it ended up giving me my best friend. However, it took me getting out of my anti-social cocoon and putting effort into getting to know people. If you do the same, you can be sure you’ll find friends.
Familiarize yourself with campus
This may seem like an obvious tip, but some out-of-state students don’t end up coming to campus until orientation or even move-in. It may not seem like a big deal, but knowing your way around campus will help settle your nerves about moving away. Take the time during orientation to get to know the campus and the city that surrounds it. The best part about Athens is the number of local businesses to enjoy, so make sure to check out those as well.
Make friends in your dorm
You’ll meet a ton of new people in classes and clubs, but make an effort to get to know people in your dorm. Not knowing many people before the semester, I was able to meet the majority of my friends in Sargent Hall. I met one of my best friends by accidentally walking into her room, and many others by knocking on doors and introducing myself.
One way to meet new people is to keep your door open when you’re hanging out in the room. It’s a great way to invite people into your dorm and get to know your neighbors. Another way is to engage in dorm Snapchat group chats. Whenever someone asks to hangout or borrow supplies, offer yourself up. You may be surprised by how many neighbors you become close with.
Take your learning community seriously
Some people find the learning community activities to be lame, but they are a great introduction to friends in your major. Before I got to move onto campus in September, Zoom meetings with my learning community were some of the only social interactions I got with my classmates. We don’t know how LC activities will occur until the fall, but virtual or in-person, still try to take the class seriously: Show up to as many activities as possible, hangout with other LC members, even make friends with your LC leader. You never know who you’ll come across.
Don’t forget about friends and family back home
This last tip is important in order to incorporate your hometown in your new home and keep you from getting homesick. While I agree you need to make an effort to make friends on campus, you shouldn’t isolate yourself completely from your loved ones back home. You can still call your friends from high school and keep your college friends. Even having friends and family visit campus for special events can kick the homesickness away. Just make sure not to spend all of your time visiting home and your friends, or else you’ll isolate yourself from campus and possible friends.
Hannah Campbell is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hannah by tweeting her at @hannahcmpbell.