Hi, What’s Your Name?: Be Welcoming (The 6th Thing I learned Sophomore Year)
The number one thing I learned in my freshman year, but especially in my sophomore year, is that talking to first-years can be hard. To be honest, most first-years don’t know how to talk to people. I didn’t know how to talk to first-years when I was a freshman. Over the last 2.5 years, I’ve definitely learned so much! (Yes, I’m writing this post as a junior about the things I learned sophomore year). Woohoo!
1. Don’t be awkward. Just take the plunge and introduce yourself to the person standing next to you, the person sitting in the next seat over in your class, etc. Everyone will be doing it in the first few weeks of freshman’s year. Ask a person’s name. If you aren’t understanding how to say it, try to pronounce it a second time, asking them if that’s right. If you’re not getting it, just ask them to spell it. That sometimes makes things a lot easier. You’ll encounter a lot of names at Vandy, and it’s much more meaningful to pronounce someone’s name correctly than it is to mess it up for the rest of the year or to avoid speaking with them for fear of getting their name wrong (true stories). It can make you feel SO bad about not being able to pronounce a person’s name correctly, especially when some students call themselves some variant of how their name is actually pronounced so that domestic students can say it better. But it’s okay. The world is a big place, and trying, really trying, is super important.
2. Also, remember that person’s name. I know this can be really hard, but if you don’t try to excuse yourself and say that “you’re just bad with names,” people will appreciate that you remembered their name. It can be a bit of a joke at first – you meet so many people, there are so many names – but try to remind yourself. Like if you’re talking to someone whose name is Claire, you could say something/think something like “Claire! I love that name. Like my sister!” It’ll help the next time you see them.
3. Asking what they’re studying is often the next question that comes. But if you can avoid asking their major right at first, that’s probably best. You will get asked what you’re studying (a question that in reality you will probably answer differently in 6 months) about 1 million times before the end of your first semester.
4. If you do ask them what they’re planning on studying, ask them why. This is often the opening to a meaningful conversation.
5. Listen, and ask questions relating to what they’re saying. Don’t think about the next topic you’re going to talk about, just the topic at hand. If you’re sitting down, lean a little bit forward, make contact, and look interested.
5.5 Eventually, try to meander the conversation to other topics. Good questions are: “What are you thinking of getting involved in?” or commenting on something they might be holding “Oh, I read that book! It’s so good! Do you try to read a lot?” can lead into longer conversations.
6. Tie in information about yourself. If they’re saying they’re studying engineering, you can say something like “Wow, that’s awesome. How did you get interested in that? I’m a math major, so it’s all kind of “out there,” but I love the practicality of engineering!” And then they’ll tell you how they got interested in it
7. If a friend comes over, don’t let him or her just stand awkwardly there. Bring them into the conversation. Some friends are definitely better at other friends than talking, but even so, you can say something like “Danielle, this is Jesse. He’s engineering too!” Try to think about commonalities between them, but don’t worry if you don’t have anything.
8. If you’re looking for an exit, office hours/meeting with someone or just a plain old “I have to go, but it was so nice to talk with you!” works really well. If you want to keep getting to know them and you don’t see them super often, you can say something like “We should get lunch soon! Can I get your number?”
9. Going to events is the best way for your friends to meet other friends. When you plan to go to something, text people whom you think it would be fun to go with. Big groups of people, especially freshman year, are so fun to hang out with!
10. Above everything, if you’re the type to stay in your room a lot freshman year (it’s okay!) at least try to get to know the girls or guys on your floor. Hang out in the common room. Go to House events. Invest in the community that’s right in front of you, and you can use those conversation tips! :)
I hope these helped! Let me know if you have any questions at email@example.com. Listen and be genuinely interested in getting to know people, remember their names and what they say to you, and you’ll be totally great!