It’s likely that during a student’s time at Wake Forest, one will either travel abroad or away from Wake Forest or has already. While not everyone can travel away from Wake Forest because of their major or other reasons, if you do travel away from campus, either for a semester or during the summer, chances are you will be with a cohort of other students.
While not all will be from Wake Forest, being with the same group of 20 or so, students can get stale. Not only this, but while being away there is something intrinsic about branching out and finding more than what’s known.
With this, I have found my desire to explore not just physically but emotionally with other communities than the one I came with from Wake Forest. While the internet is an amazing source to branch out and make friends, I wanted to think of a more organic way to find new people. What I realized was that sometimes you just have to be lucky. You must be in the right place at the right time and make a connection by just talking to people around or have someone talk to you. That can be weird — especially in Washington.
Most importantly though, you must leave your room. Obviously, do what makes you feel safe and secure but by staying in your room you only have the internet as a venue of meeting new people. But beyond your room, there is a world around you full of future friends.
A couple of recommendations though: think of your interests and find interest groups in your surrounding area. I was very into playing Magic the Gathering, a card game similar to Yu-Gi-Oh or Pokemon, so I looked online for local card shops that hosted tournaments. From this, I have found a place full of people who share my interests of nerdy card games. Not only this, but I have searched for groups that focused on programming. And I found a group that meets every week to discuss coding and programming where people come together to ask questions and see what can happen when minds unite. While we have a single shared interest, often I find myself bonding with people through issues beyond coding or card games. And all these are people I would have never met if I hadn’t explored.
But, sometimes you meet people just randomly. You sit next to someone on the metro and next thing you know a conversation starts. And while sometimes these encounters only last 10 or so minutes, they are nonetheless exchanges with others beyond the Wake Forest community. But sometimes, they become friendships that never seemed probable.
Finding community in new places as young students all depends on where you are, who are you and your identities and privileges or disadvantages they provide. Being safe is vital and while that can seem limiting, being safe and smart will result in you finding others while also caring for yourself. So, as you ride the bus and catch eyes with someone, smile (because it’s the nice thing to do) and maybe strike a conversation if you feel up to it. While sometimes you will be snuffed, sometimes you won’t. Branching out from the people you came with will not just allow you to spice up your experience, but it will also allow you to see a more authentic side of where you are. It will allow you to hear about what else is out there. It will allow you to better understand why and what you are doing in your new home. But, sometimes people will just think you are weird and push you aside, and that’s when you have to be thankful for your fellow Deacs or cohort you came with.