In Boston, we spend a good portion of our day avoiding contact with other people: on the T, on sidewalks, in coffee shops, in the elevator. Isolation is our norm. So when a Hub newcomer strikes up a conversation, be it at a restaurant or while waiting for the Green Line, we are often standoffish-and maybe even a little rude-to this friendly and outgoing person.
At Emerson, we find ourselves in the same situation, at many times failing to interact with others: in residence halls, in the library walking past the awkwardly-placed "Will and Grace" set, on Boylston Street, in the dining hall and in elevators. We become comfortable in our secluded circles and lack the desire to branch out.
But during the first couple weeks of freshman year, things are different: People across the Emerson community from all walks of life eagerly introduce themselves to each other. People share life stories, dreams for the future and anecdotes that perhaps will one day be retold at a wedding reception over a champagne toast.
This two week interim is something to take advantage of and follow through with care. If I had wasted it feeling homesick and wishing for more time with my high school friends, I might be sulking alone in the dining hall this year, living in a Piano Row suite with five random strangers.
Meeting people during these first weeks is like learning to ride a bike: It is only acceptable to do so within a certain early period, and though difficult at first, it's a cinch once you conquer it. If you haven't already, you'll soon be yourself doing crazy, fun things with your fellow freshmen.
A few nights into my awe-inspiring orientation, I wandered into my floor's common room in the Marriott Hotel. Someone, from the Little Building we suspect, had stolen our floor's mascot: a cardboard cutout of Barack Obama. In a quest to retrieve our precious mascot, we dressed in black and ventured to the other residence halls, knocking on random room doors, peeking inside to find our Barack. We never found him, but the escapade is a great memory.
There were times during orientation when I would meet someone and get their number, thinking my friend-bank was increasing day by day. But, as the year went on, I rarely saw those people, much less became their friend. If you want to keep the friends you're making now, you need to make an effort. However, it isn't very hard, especially in today's exceptionally interconnected world.
Whether it's through Facebook, Twitter, instant message or real-life contact, keeping in touch is key. It can enable an acquaintance to grow into a full-fledged, flesh-and-blood friend by going past the barrier of wireless connections and entering the world of the eye-to-eye. A cup of coffee. A walk down Newbury Street. A visit to The Garment District.
You can develop great friendships with your suitemates and floormates. But the best way to meet lasting friends is to find people who share your interests. Many Emerson students join co-curricular organizations and clubs to fulfill their passions. They soon realize that those activities provide a better pool of friends than any other sector of the college scene.
When you moved into the residence halls, you were handed a copy of the student handbook. Your responsibility to hold fellow classmates and peers in high regard, regardless of their quirks, is not explicit in this guide. Nor is your right to explore new interests and meet people beyond your usual friend prototype. The people you befriend in college can change your worldview and can transform your life, for better and for worse. These new fresh faces from around the globe are the people you could spend your life with.
The first two weeks of freshman year only happen once. In addition to exploring Boston for the first (or umpteenth) time and enjoying life's freedoms as a college student, interact with the student body, make friends and put in your due diligence to keep them.