Entering my first year at UBC was scary. I was greeted by a sea of strangers on Imagine Day and in my first huge lecture—thrown into an unfamiliar ocean, having left the comfort of my little high-school pond.
Making friends was my biggest stressor—I’m sure many UBC newbies can relate. Where do I find these mysterious besties-to-be? How do I approach them? Am I being awkward?
Thankfully, I found them—but when summer arrived, the challenge was keeping in touch and taking these new friendships beyond just the classroom. I didn’t want to be strangers again just because we no longer saw each other 3:30 to 5:00 pm every Monday and Wednesday.
Here are my tips for keeping in touch with new friends. (P.S. They worked!)
My first-year friends and I at school.
Talk about things beyond school work
The first step is to show your friend that you value the new friendship, that they’re not just someone to exchange class notes with.
Sure, joking about procrastinating can be fun. But limiting the conversation to just school stuff might keep the friendship as just, well, a school thing.
Try and get to know them on a more personal level. What hobbies do they have? Where are they from? What’s their secret pet peeve? Simple topic shifts like these can spark awesome conversations!
Link common interests to hangout ideas
Now that you’ve gotten to know them better, perhaps you know their favourite movie genre. Perhaps you share a love for biking. Or perhaps you both really want to do the spicy noodle challenge—just because.
1 + 1 = 2. One biking lover + another biking lover = go biking together! Is there a weekend coming up, or are your finals both ending soon? Suggest a hangout that you know you’ll both enjoy.
Start off simple
Perhaps asking your new pal to go to a skate park with you sounds a bit too…fast.
No biggie. New friendships start off simple—and it’s less scary to initiate, too. Both taking summer school? Ask if they want to be your study buddy and explore one of these cute Vancouver cafes. Both wanting to do morning runs? See if they’d like to be your fitness friend and motivate each other!
One of my friendships grew from hours of studying together—and after the hard work, we rewarded ourselves with ice cream or the beach. We’re still tight to this day.
Keep your eyes out for events
Summertime is filled with fun activities and events. Maybe you and your friend both have a summer bucket list to check off. Why not do it together?
See an upcoming event that reminds you of them? Send it to them and ask if they want to go with you! If they can't, it’s okay—suggest making it up over another hangout.
Protip #1: Facebook is a great way to plan events with friends. If they clicked ‘interested’ for an event you’re also interested in, see if you can go together!
Protip #2: Remember to read the cues. If they’re not receptive, don’t be pushy about hanging out.
Do the distance
What if you’re spending your summers in different cities? Seeing them in person is not a friendship prerequisite!
Chances are, you both have exciting things happening. Hit them up on Facebook Messenger, respond to their cool IG stories, or stay connected with video chats and phone calls—you can share your travel stories, work shenanigans, or simply memes that remind you of them!
Be brave about it
If 2 people have a natural synergy and conversations aren’t forced, you know it’s a good sign. Good friendships aren’t perfectly planned—good friendships just happen. However, that doesn’t mean no effort!
If you want to hang out, take a chance and just ask! For all you know, they could be waiting for you to ask them, too. Sometimes, you just have to take the leap—you’ve got absolutely nothing to lose.
Hanging out with my first-year friends in the summer!
You don’t have to hang out all the time
Keeping a friendship doesn’t mean hanging out twice a week—I saw some of my new friends just 3 times over the summer, and that was enough to keep the spark alive. For those whom you can’t seem to match schedules with, just checking in is sufficient for friendship maintenance.
Summertime is, unfortunately, shorter than we think—so beyond these friendships, focus on yourself, recharge, and have fun! When you see your friends again in September, you’ll have many stories to share.