A good rule to live by: Don’t do your neighbors! There are literally thousands of people at this school who you can have whatever sort of freaky interactions you want with. The only people you are pretty much guaranteed to see everyday are your neighbors. Unless you enjoy the recurring head nod and wave of shame, leave your neighbors alone until they are no longer your neighbors. Another tip, develop a secret code with your roommates for when they should absolutely not come in. The sock-on-the-door-thing lost its subtlety before you were born, so don’t try to bring it back. A post-it on the door or a piece of tape over the lock will usually get the message across without advertising it to the whole floor. It can be tricky to get lucky in the dorms, but a little finesse and planning is all it takes.
The single most important thing to know about the dining commons is that you can sit with anyone you know, even for just a little bit, so long as you are respectful of an ongoing conversation and aware that people sometimes need to sit alone. Pick up your yogurt and put it down next to anyone — perfect unassuming conversation starter for an easy 20 minutes of bonding. Even better, notice what your person of interest is eating and offer to take them to a restaurant that you “know” has the best whatever that thing is ever. Boom. Date one: Check. The rest is up to you.
One of the most exciting times you’ll ever have. You’ll quickly find that you simultaneously know nobody and everybody. You’re a brand new person with a clean slate and this is the week to build your new reputation for the next four years of your life. This should excite you. You can be the Casanova, the Jock, the sweetheart, the lover, the shy one or the mysterious one. You can be anything, and the best part of it all — with so many new people to meet, you’ll have quite a few tries to get it right. Be confident. Everyone is as new as you. Relax, try new things, practice some old things and just be smart and safe when it comes down to it.
No matter what your body type is, the Rec Center can be a great friend to your love life if you know how to play the gym-going-game properly. Be restrained. The imagination is your friend when it comes to meeting a potential mate. Even if you have the picture-perfect body, don’t show it off too quickly. Half of the fun is finding out what’s underneath the shirt for the first time. Also, if you wear headphones, take them both out to talk to somebody. It shows you’re interested in more than looking. Lastly, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to somebody, just make sure you don’t end up forcing yourself and your conversation on them when they’re trying to exercise. Read the signs — they’ll lead you home with a lovely companion.
Both lecture and section are perfect places for making new acquaintances. If you sit by someone new, introduce yourself. That is, only if class has yet to start. Once the professor or TA starts speaking, stop talking. Don’t do it. You and your interest are both paying an insane amount of money per minute of class time, so take it seriously. An introduction before class and a quick conversation afterwards can lead a long way. Plus, referencing the lecture is an excellent icebreaker. “Can you believe there are over 300 species of squid in the world? On that note, let’s get weird.” Not a perfect example, but the principle is flawless. Use class as a place for brief introductions; leave the rest of the conversation for later.
At the Beach
This one is all about location: Choose where you lay out wisely. Stick near Santa Cruz if you’re looking for other freshmen, or venture down to Sands for some surfer eye candy. Bring something to spark conversation — a soccer ball, a volleyball or a six-pack … but you didn’t hear that from us … (seriously though, if you do this, do not go swimming. We don’t want your tickets or deaths on our hands). If you do get that cliché football landing on your towel, know that it was likely thrown on purpose, and have the confidence to throw it back and ask if you can join in. If you’re no Tom Brady, you could always ask him to show you how to properly finger those laces. And if you are the Tom Brady in this situation, pick a target and throw: It literally couldn’t be easier.
Honestly, this one may seem the most intimidating, but we can guarantee you that everyone is out there for the exact same reasons you are: To get drunk and meet people. Start conversations, and preferably get deeper than, “So what’s your major?” The key is to NOT be cliquey; it just makes you unapproachable (as does staring at your iPhone all night). You will have that one person that you stick to like glue, but think of them as more of a wingman than a hand-holder, and feed off of each other’s confidence rather than insecurities. If you need liquid courage, by all means, go for it. At least then you’ll have something to do with your hands. But don’t endlessly retreat to the keg just because it’s something to do rather than standing around awkwardly. If you drink to the point where you can’t take care of yourself, how do you expect to take care of that special someone else?
At the Library
Again, location is everything. It’s a big place, so try out a few different spots: You’ll get a feel for who sits where and then you can decide where you want to set up camp. Once you get your lib routine going, you’ll probably start seeing the same people, which is good. Then you can graduate to small talk. By no means am I telling you to interrupt someone’s studying, but if the opportunity arises, take it. Start with little things (“Hey, can you watch my laptop real quick?”) and keep your eyes and ears out for possible openings; maybe you’ll recognize a song that you can hear through their headphones, or they’ll be reading a book from a class that you’ve taken. Flirting at the library is definitely more of an art than these last two, but it can be done.
Opinion Co-Editors Emile Nelson and Allyson Campion would love to know if any of these tips actually work … Hit them up on Twitter @Nexus_Opinion. Happy Humping, first-years!