I met a new friend today.
I was sitting in the hallway of Roosevelt Hall before a class, bored and anxious for the class to begin. One of my classmates, a Korean guy, was sitting near me and was talking to a Korean friend of his in their native tongue.
And then a thought struck me. Not a profound one, not an unusual one. In fact, it’s so mundane that I don’t even usually realize that I think it: I wanted to meet someone. I wanted to talk to someone I’ve never talked to before, to build a connection with someone for the first time.
So I followed my whim and struck up a conversation with the two about the few Korean words I knew. Unfortunately, all of them were dirty words I could barely pronounce taught to me by a Korean-American friend of mine, but I connected anyhow. The new friend and I exchanged our names and she taught me how to say, “nice to meet you,” in Korean.
College is naturally a time of meeting new people, and we need to squeeze that social tangerine for all of its friendly juices. Emporia may not be a big school, but it is almost impossible to know everyone on campus. During this point in our lives, it is important to be bold and meet as many friends as you can.
This doesn’t mean that we have to try to become the most popular person on campus, but that we should not be scared of meeting new people.
After meeting a new friend today, I walked away feeling happy to make a new friendship and feeling accomplished, as if it’s something that doesn’t happen every day.
And that is because it doesn’t. Many people, including myself, live in a bubble of individualism. We don’t need to talk to people we don’t know and they don’t need to talk to us, so we don’t want to go out of our way.
Unfortunately, that is a silly way to think. If someone thought that way their entire life, they wouldn’t make any friends at all, so why think like that for even a second? There is so much we can learn from each other, but it is impossible to learn if you never meet the teacher.
It is also a great thing that our school has such a large number of international students. Meeting international students allows for sharing of cultures from both the international student and the American student, and that is never a bad thing. We have come to college to learn to be worldly and learning about other cultures is just that. We must have the courage to burst our ethnocentric bubble.
I’ve made hundreds of friends in college, and I think I will only make more. I also think that I will hold on to some of those friends I have met in college well into my adult life.
After college, meeting friends will be totally different. Depending on your job, you may end up working with the same people in the same department every day. It’s hard to find new friends when you’re stuck in an office doing work for several hours a day.
But we are in college, the most sociable learning institution possible. I, for example, have classes where I don’t know all of my peers. I don’t even know all of the people in my major. Although the school is small, there are always more people that we can get to know. All you need is a smile and a friendly demeanor.
So the next time that you are sitting in a hallway alone, bored and wanting to talk to someone, do it. The odds are that they will talk back to you, you’ll find out you have something in common, and you will make a new friend.
Like Benjamin Franklin never said, a friend found is a friend earned.