Urgent Support

How can I make new friends?

Zoya hailed from a comparatively smaller town and had worked extremely hard to get into IIT-B. Her excitement knew no bounds when she started at IIT. Like many others, she dreamed of making the most of the next four years in Mumbai and on campus with a friend circle of her own. When she arrived on campus, she realised how different everyone was here. There were people from all parts of the country, each trying to find their own way. With each day, she found the experience of acquainting her to new people and places overwhelming. Feeling homesick didn’t help much. She often found herself thinking if she would be able to fit in? Would she find people who shared similar interests and beliefs? Would her college mates like her?

Initiation

Becoming an IITian and coming to campus is a thrilling experience for everyone. You’re probably excited about all the possibilities that the next couple of years hold. But this new shift also means that you have had to leave behind your friends and family and start afresh in a new environment. Being surrounded by so many new people from varied backgrounds and having to build and navigate your way through different relationships can be overwhelming.

Not only as freshers, but you may also look to make new friends at any point during your time here. Many connections evolve after one semester or even a year or two after being on campus. Some students seek new friends after a branch or hostel change or simply because they want to expand their immediate circle. But, for many of us, making friends isn’t as easy. It is natural to feel awkward, shy, unsure about how to initiate conversations, feeling scared and apprehensive.

Coping Mechanisms

Experiences

IIT-B will offer a multitude of experiences to you which are much beyond just academics. There are abundant clubs, groups, and activities on campus that you can be a part of. Join any of these based on your interests and find like-minded people!

Also, make use of all the orientation programs, the Facebook group for freshers and the InstiApp to remain updated about the latest developments on campus.

Take one day at a time

Take in the new experiences in smaller doses to increase your comfort around new people, places and practices.

Communication

Be forthcoming and approach your wingies, roommates; learn about them and find some common healthy hobbies/ experience that you can try out together

Everyone has a unique journey

Sometimes everyone around you may seem to be coping well academically and otherwise. Remember everyone comes from different backgrounds and with the help of support systems available on campus, you can cope well. Do not compare your experience to those of your batchmates or friends. Everyone has a unique journey and not one way is better than another.

Initiate conversations

At most times (especially in the initial days), you will find that most of your peers are looking for friends too. Don’t wait for someone to walk up to you. It can be scary but take the initiative and get talking to people. The more you do so, the easier it'll get.

Be yourself

Wanting to fit in and make friends quickly is understandable. But altering your personality or putting up a facade is going to be draining and won’t work out too well in the long run. Being genuine and true to yourself will help you build more fulfilling and lasting connections (eg. You don’t have to consume substances to fit in). Draw healthy boundaries and avoid being influenced by peers who may have belief systems or habits you’re not comfortable with.

Tips and tricks

Conversational Skills
  • Maintaining good eye contact and a forward stance can help indicate that you are confident and genuinely interested in the conversation and getting to know the person.
  • Asking questions and genuinely listening to someone can help you understand what they like, don’t like, and find common ground (like similar interests, hobbies to share, activities to participate in)
  • While it’s great to ensure they’re getting time to share, it’s also essential to make it a two-way conversation. Tell them about yourself, answer the same questions you’ve asked.
  • Asking more open-ended questions (that prompt elaborative answers instead of yes/no)
  • Listening well without interrupting, communicating what you’ve understood and asking follow-up questions (but also not making it sound like an interview!)
  • Remembering things people have shared
  • Sticking to a couple of topics and not jumping from one to another
Eat or share meals with people

One of the easiest ways to bond is over food and sharing mealtime is a great way to get closer to new people.

Get out of your room and your devices

Don’t stick to laptop or mobile screens for long.

Learn from your past friendships

Recall how you ‘learned the trick’ of making friends in school or in your neighbourhood. Ask yourself:

How did you make friends in the past and what did you do well?

What are some good characteristics that you bring to a friendship?

What characteristics are you looking for and not looking for in a friend?

If you identify as queer, making friends can be even more difficult. You may constantly have to assess your surroundings and make decisions of disclosure (Is this a safe person? Do I confide in them? How much do I tell them? How will they react? Will they respect my privacy?). Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone.

Seek help

If you’re a student having difficulties, you can always reach out to
  • For adjustment and other concerns, your ISMP/ ISCP/ DAMP mentor is your go-to person! It could be about your wingies or about managing your schedule-your mentor has been there, done that.
  • For hostel-related issues please contact the Hall Manager (during office hours) or the Warden.
  • When the emotions get overwhelming or when you are simply confused about what is happening to you, talking to a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre could give relief and provide guidance about what you can do.
  • Your parents are just a phone call away. Don’t hold back from contacting them even if you just want to unburden!