Getting involved in campus culture might seem daunting or unnecessary, but there is hidden value for students to uncover in student groups and events.
As the summer winds to a close, it’s time to bunker down and prepare to be locked back into the monotonous, fluorescent-lit hellscape of papers and textbooks and holier-than-thou professors spewing information you don’t quite understand, while simultaneously avoiding eye contact with each one of your peers on your regular route to class because it’s really hard to put yourself out there and meet new people.
It’s hard to believe we’re paying for this experience, but does it really have to be this way? Of course not. Sure, it might never be the best time of your life, but if you’re really struggling to make the best of your time in university then I’ve got great news — everyone else is too. The solution is pretty simple, but it starts with a change in perspective. Repeat after me: campus is a community, not an institution.
Think about it: we’re all working towards very similar things. Chances are you’re a student because somewhere along the line you decided you wanted to work towards something like a degree, and university is where you decided to do it. Call it what you will — and maybe I’m too easily influenced by Disney Channel original movies — but I am a firm believer that we’re all in this together. Once we know that we are, we’re all stars and we’ll make our dreams come true — or something like that.
Not sure where to start? Look around you: all those posters plastered on bulletin boards by some random acronym of a student group are there to tell you about cool events that you might actually enjoy. If you have a spare minute, stop by your college’s student union office — they are literally there to hang out with you and tell you about all the cool stuff going on.
Participating in Welcome Week is also a great way to find your place among some 21,000 students. Every campus club is out and looking for fresh meat. Don’t be too scared, joining one might be the time of your life.
Throughout the year, keep your eyes peeled — social media has become an essential tool in promoting events around campus. Chances are, you’ll see something in your news feed — choose to make a habit of fully reading the descriptions of these posts before scrolling past. If for no other reason, it’s good practice to become more mindful in your media consumption.
If all else fails, and you still don’t know how to get into campus culture, just talk to the people around you. Sure, it can be intimidating, but just remember that we’re all in the same boat. There’s an old adage about wild animals that goes something like “They’re just as scared of you as you are of them.” Why not make that your mantra? There are tons of great people just wandering around — people with the same interests, passions and goals as you — so get out there and get to know them.
This notion of campus community can be a major asset for students. There’s opportunity for personal growth and professional development. Sometimes there’s even free food. There’s a lot to learn from the people around you and there’s strength and solace in numbers. Dip your toes in the waters of active engagement and don’t be afraid to put in effort outside of classwork. There is always a payoff and you’ll get back what you put in, I promise.
Photo: Jordan Dumba