A lot of questions surface when you’re about to enter college: what’s housing like? Will I like the food at the dining halls? Are my classes going to be really hard and what does a lecture even look like? What will my professors be like and how do I get involved in activities? Among the general questions about how college even works and the detail-oriented ones about how to find your classes or fix your schedule there are the bigger ones: Am I prepared for this level of instruction and work? Will I have a school-life balance? One that everyone’s thinking but no one really speaks up about is how do I make new friends in college?

USC is a big school and it can feel overwhelming to think about being one of the 20,000 undergrads on campus. Most people come into university the same way I did, knowing very few (if any) fellow students and wondering how to make those life-long friendships that people always talk about having from college. I was thinking about all this during my first week, looking out at the sea of faces and wondering how to navigate this exciting but daunting next step.

Maybe it’s the sentimental feelings that a new year stirs up or realizing that a lot of my friends are graduating this year, but lately I’ve been thinking back on all the people I’ve been so fortunate to meet here and now call my good friends. They’ve given me a community, a support system here at school while we all traverse this chaotic time in our lives away from home. Friends to join me on outdoor adventures, have meals with during the week, text in a 2am panic before an exam, explore the city with, meet up with at events, work alongside for hours at the library, and just to sit with and cry and lean on during the tough days. This blog isn’t meant to be a cheesy reminiscing about all this; rather, I want to share the ways in which I found these wonderful people to share my college experience with and hopefully the times that come after graduation too. 

Classes

This seems like a no-brainer, but meeting people in my classes is one of the quickest ways I began forming my friendships both within and outside my major. It could stem from starting up a quick conversation with the person next to you in your general education class or asking someone nearby for a clarification on something the professor just said or running into the same people in office hours each week because you’re all confused and then getting dinner after. 

Residence Halls and Housing

Both of my current roommates are friends I made in the McCarthy
Honors dorm freshman year! From hanging out at the RA sponsored events, meeting up at the McCarthy dining hall for study breaks each night, or all hanging out together in someone’s room getting ready for a night out, I definitely grew close with the people on my floor and all across the building. To this day, we all bring up funny memories from those hilarious freshman months in the dorms and the 3am study sessions in the common rooms.

Organizations

With such an incredible number of organizations on campus for every subject matter, niche interest, affinity/cultural group, and career goal, you are sure to find a club that fits you and what’s important to you. A lot of the students I am lucky to call friends came from random club meetings that first semester and even going to new clubs in my junior year has led to even more friends. Whether it’s surfing with pals from Surf Club, being guided up the climbing wall by my buds in SC Climbing, getting dinner every week with my engineering gals from the Society of Women Engineers, attending Pixar movie screenings with fellow Disney enthusiasts from the Themed Entertainment Association, or having holiday potlucks with my friends from Younglife, organizations make the big USC environment feel a little smaller and more like home. Greek life also provides a chance to meet a vast range of people from outside your major and routine on campus. I’ve met some of my best friends from my sorority, many of which are studying something completely remote from engineering, who I can rely on in tough times when life is overwhelming, watch Christmas movies with on a Friday night, or adventure around LA with. There’s bound to be an organization on campus that each person can find their people at.

Random Campus Events

USC has all sorts of events and speakers happening throughout the year, as do many organizations that open these things up to all students. Sometimes when you sit down in the lecture or auditorium for a presentation on something you’re interested in, you can strike up a conversation about the topic with the person next to you or even while you’re waiting in line for an hour for it. These kinds of events are not only super cool because of the fascinating speakers that you get to hear or the fun activities and food you get to try; they’re also great because of the other students who took the time to come out to the event as well and are excited to join in the discussion or the fun. 

Through Other Friends

A lot of the wonderful people I know came through meeting just one friend who introduced me to another person who then introduced me to more people and before I knew it, I had a little trail of friendships.  You never know
the kind of connections you can make through only one person. In my experience, people are eager to tell you about a friend they love to hang out with or a friend they think you would also hit it off with. 

 

Sharing my experiences making friends here at SC is not meant as a guide for you to follow and immediately befriend everyone in the school. I simply know how overwhelming it can feel to be alone in such a new place and have to make all new friends again. The transition to college is scary enough, so I just want to ensure you that making friends will come naturally and those special people in your life will come along in the right ways. Everyone (and I mean absolutely everyone) is trying to make friends at the beginning of college (and even into their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years here), so you are definitely not the only one. It all starts with a little hello and awkward conversation, and before you know it you’ll be building strong relationships to have along the crazy ride of college and beyond. And if you happen to see me around campus on my bright blue bike, come say hi! I’m always looking to make a new friend 🙂

Lots of love for my Viterbi Student Ambassador peeps!! ^^

Gianna Beck

Gianna Beck

MAJOR: Computer Science (Games) YEAR: Class of 2023 HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Arizona PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @gianna__25 I'm involved with computer science research investigating affective gesturing in robots in the Interaction Lab along with being a Freshman Engineering Academy Coach. Outside of Viterbi, I'm a part of Greek Life, SC Climbing, the Student Alumni Society leadership board, and I am a volunteer at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

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