Being a student at a large university, nobody here at UNC Charlotte is a stranger to the lone wolf. Whether you are one or you have seen them around campus, they are usually sitting by themselves in the Student Union or eating by themselves at the dining halls. Though there are people who prefer to be this way, it’s safe to say that the majority of these pack-less wolves are freshmen. Being thrust into a new environment can be so much to handle sometimes that it can seem as though you don’t even have time to make friends, especially if you’re not from here. According to the UNC Charlotte website, each year almost 2,000 international students arrive representing about 85 different countries. It can be tough coming from a different state, but a different country? That seems almost unimaginable. “I came here from Spain,” says Rocio Safont, a freshman at UNC Charlotte, “It’s really hard being so far from all the people I know. It seems like everybody here knows somebody except me.” Rocio is just one of many that had to leave her entire country behind in hopes of finding a better education in Charlotte. For many, their family is just a phone call or car ride away, but for Rocio, her family is in a completely different time zone, and an eight-hour flight away. It can make a person feel pretty lonely.
The majority of the people who attend UNC Charlotte are in-state residents, and so it’s not hard to believe that most of the freshman here might have high school friends that came with them. Finding your own clique can be easy when it’s with people you have known for years, but everyone should keep in mind that meeting new people is not easy by any means, especially when it seems like everybody already has their own group. If you are this person that has your squad set already, I can understand why you might be hesitant to let somebody new in. However, making new friends doesn’t necessarily mean letting them into your personal friend bubble. It can just mean that you made someone feel less alone simply by introducing yourself and starting up a conversation. Owen Lee, a freshman here at UNC Charlotte, also sheds some light on this “I’m from Fuquay, which is a small town just outside Raleigh and a lot of people from there ending up coming to school here in Charlotte too. The people I hang out with are people from that area.
I met this one girl that’s from Miami, but she’s really the one that introduced herself to me and started our friendship. It made me realize that maybe I should introduce myself to others more because you never know the friends you might make.” It’s also important to keep in mind that college is definitely not high school. UNC Charlotte has about 30,000 students attending, give or take a few hundred, and it is highly doubtful your high school had even 1/3 of that. You could be a senior and you will still be encountering new people, whereas in high school you probably knew everybody who was anybody just after your first few months. Taking this into account, it can be easy to feel like a small fish in a huge pond, but this is only preparing you for the rest of your life. Another thing to know about college is that, unlike high school, cliques are a good thing. If you want to make friends, there are endless ways to do this on campus. You could join one of the 400 student organizations on campus, you could rush for a sorority or fraternity, you could start/join a study group for your classes, etc. Rushing is a great way to meet new people and feel out what type of environment you want to see yourself in. Joining an intramural sport is also a good way to be grouped up with people who have similar interests to you. College is all about meeting new people and making new friends, and everybody here has heard this all before. I understand it’s not easy being the person to actually do it. Yes, it’s true that eventually everybody will find a group of people that they fit in with and get along with, but why should someone have to go through weeks of solitude before something like this happens? And even still, why should we be limited to our one trusty group once we find it? I believe in the idea of having friends everywhere and in every aspect of college; make friends in class, make friends in clubs, and even make friends at the dining halls. Go sit with someone who looks lonely and talk to them about anything, you might be surprised at how much you want to be this person’s friend afterwards