Finding New Communities: A Sophomore Perspective
Entering the college scene as a freshman during COVID presented many challenges, one of the greatest being finding friends and a community within such a large university. I lived in Bursley for the fall semester, and with the rapid spread of illness at that time, social events and other opportunities were limited, if any. Most of my interactions were between my roommate and a few others in my hall, and it became very isolating. While it was an unprecedented circumstance, I still felt that I had little guidance as to how others were finding their place at school seemingly with ease. While this year looks much different than last, I want to talk about some of the groups I’ve found on campus that have made me feel so much more connected and at home.
The first organization I discovered was Wolverine Support Network. This is a peer-led support group that meets once a week to talk about classes, relationships, family, and anything else that comes up. The group leaders are also students, and it was a safe environment to process all that goes on during the school year. I was able to vent about my day, ask for advice, and joke around with a kind, supportive group of people. I would definitely recommend this organization to anyone who is looking to be more connected with their peers.
Going into college, I was relatively sure I wasn’t going to get involved with Greek life on campus. However, some students find their community in this way and meet amazing people. If you’re on the fence, I would recommend talking to other students about their experiences with it, or even looking at what people have said online about being in a sorority or fraternity. Personally, I was worried that if I didn’t join a group like this, I wouldn’t find friends (as some had told me in the past). This is just not true. There are more people at U of M that aren’t in Greek life than those who are, and you will find them. I did not join a traditional sorority, and I have found a great group of friends in Zeta Omega Eta that have made Ann Arbor feel like home. It is an intersectional, feminist “sorority” that focuses on activism, philantrophy, and fundraising for communities in our area. Some of the events we had this past year included watching the presidential debates together, nature walks in the Arb, coffee dates, and so much more.
Some resources to find clubs and social groups on campus include Maize Pages, Festifall and Winterfest events, and even academic advisors who may know about study groups or other academic opportunities you can get involved in. You can even ask those in your classes and labs what organizations they’re involved in, and their experiences with it. If you’re in a difficult class, ask others in the class if they’d like to make a study group. Even if you end up ordering Domino’s and watching TV instead of working on homework, I’d say it’s still a success.
Keeping you informed,
Avery (Class of 2024)
Getting out of your Comfort Zone: A Junior's Perspective
As the October of my junior year comes to a close, it’s hard to not reflect on past years. Obviously with last year, we were all dealing with online classes and being stuck inside. I feel like I missed out and I miss the atmosphere of freshman year. The energy that everyone had in the dining hall and the dorms was just different. You could walk down the hallway or get in the elevator and meet 3 new people in the span of five minutes. Everyone is trying to make friends and find new communities. I remember sitting in my dorm room and having someone invite me along to a new event almost every day in the beginning of the year. Along with that, I miss class friends. I miss sitting down in a large auditorium and striking up a conversation with whoever was sitting next to me, making plans to study together, and turning it into a friendship.
My point is this: everyone falls into the trap of getting stuck in their comfort zone. You find your friend group in the first month of freshman year, you get comfortable, and you stop exploring. Regardless of your year, I think it’s important to get to know our school as best as you can. Try that new restaurant, hangout with that new friend, go to that club meeting, and strike up conversations with strangers. We have four years here and college is the best chance to do those things. I may be a little biased but the University of Michigan is an amazing place. Everyone is so smart and has done so many things before even coming to college. Obviously, there are hits and misses, but I have 5 challenges for everyone to try before the end of the school year. Who knows? One of them may become something you stick with.
Make a new friend in one of your classes. Try and set up a time to study together (past just sharing what you got on a practice exam).
Try to go for a walk in the Arb (it’s pretty when it’s snowy too)
Try a new study spot (the LSA was recently redone)
Go to North Campus even if you don’t live or have a class there
Try a local restaurant (my favorite right now is Stray Hen)
Keeping you informed,
Maddy (Class of 2023)