Thursday, 22 October 2015

Kindergarten x 12

New place. Strange-smelling food. Unfamiliar faces. Crying for Mommy and Daddy.
Nope, I’m not talking about kindergarten. I’m talking about Harlaxton.

Yes, we’ve all heard it’s just like Hogwarts (and yes, for all you future Lions I can confirm it totally is), but I’m here to give you another comparison: kindergarten. Harlaxton is, well, like kindergarten times 12. You’re in this wonderful, but totally new place, and it’s magnificent but can also make a person feel quite small. You’re incredibly excited, but slightly overwhelmed. And it’s during this time that you look to friends. Only, ha, oh yeah, you’re an ocean away from most of them. Suddenly you’re a little fish in a big pond just looking for other fish to swim with. The task can feel quite daunting, especially for those of us who are a bit on the shy side. But I’m here, as a friend, to give a little encouragement and reassurance using some age-old lessons picked up in, you guessed it, kindergarten. (Because at the end of the day, we’re all 6 year olds at heart.)

1.)    Can I sit with you?
This little line will forever come in handy. From kindergarten to college, the quickest way to meet new people is to do just that: meet them. Easier said than done, you might say. Yeah, I know. I am admittedly very bad at going up to new people and just striking up a conversation. But, at Harlaxton that awkwardness is minimalized because there are constantly opportunities that allow for you to engage with your fellow Lions. Refectory is full? Squeeze in with a group. First day of class? Find a buddy to sit with. Make the most of these little moments by interacting with someone in the simplest of ways: sit with him/her.

2.)    Do you want to be my friend?
So, maybe a bit too direct for a 20 year old, but the intent can very easily translate. The same initiative that it takes for a 6 year old to blatantly ask for friendship is the same initiative we must have to ask for help from a peer or strike up a conversation with someone new. If a 6 year old can ask a stranger to be best friends, 20 year old you can certainly talk about British Studies (or anything else) with a fellow Lion.

3.)   Here, you can share my crayons!
Although they may not be crayons, one of the best ways to make friends is by showing kindness. Newsflash: we’re all experiencing this together. Everyone else is just as anxious, excited, and overwhelmed as you are. So show a little compassion. Lend the boy scrambling for something to write with one of your pens; offer to share notes with someone who mentions she is struggling; grab the door for someone with an armload of books. And who knows? You might just make a new best friend that way. At the very least, you’ll have a better day because you’ve brightened someone else’s. 

4.)   What’s your favorite color?
We don’t ask this question so much anymore; now it’s more along the lines of “What’s your major?” and “Where are you from?”  But the purpose of all of these questions is the same: getting to know someone. Never underestimate the power of just listening to others. People like to feel heard, and most of the time, when you give respect you get it back in return. I know from personal experience that the closest friends I’ve made here are all ones who engaged in conversation and listened. We took time to get to know one another, and now I have people who light up my day each time I see them.

5.)    Wanna play?
Finally, never underestimate the power of just asking to hang out. With everyone traveling, going to House events, and studying, there is never a shortage of opportunities to connect with others. Be bold enough to ask someone to study or watch a movie and confident enough to say yes when someone invites you to something. Again: these people are in the same situation as you; no one is going to think you’re weird for approaching him/her.

Ultimately, just have confidence in yourself and assurance in the fact that everyone else is just as new to all this as you are. Shake yourself of judgment, doubt, and anything else that will hinder you from making this experience the best it can possibly be. After all, the pictures and places can only mean so much; it’s the people you bond with who really make Harlaxton magical.

Written by: Rachael Doyel

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