A new semester means new opportunities to make friends in clubs and classes — but an unusual semester calls for unconventional methods.
Some first years and transfer students have been turning to social media and virtual clubs for community during this remote semester.
Facebook groups and Instagram pages are a central hub for first years looking for new friends, said Ronik Grewal, a first year student studying information science. He said the pages are mainly students sharing their interests and ways they can interact with each other in-person, such as hiking.
“Because clubs aren't, and student organizations, aren't happening, all the classes are online on Zoom, so the traditional methods don't work anymore,” Grewal said. “So, Facebook has really come in clutch.”
Jordan Aasman, a junior transfer student studying computer science and living in Morrison Residence Hall, said he is used to having to make new friends in new places because he moved around a lot throughout high school, but it’s never been like this.
He said he couldn't make friends by just sitting in his dorm and not reaching out to people, so he emailed members of clubs to find out when they meet. He said he has found friends in clubs and organizations like Reformed University Fellowship at UNC, Carolina THINK and Undergraduate Business-Technology Club.
“RUF meets quite frequently and so from showing up and participating in their meetings, just by being there, and the mere exposure effect by seeing people every day, you’re like ‘Wow that’s a friend' — even though I’ve only seen them through the screen on Zoom," he said.
He said he has also organized several Zoom study sessions with classmates via class group chats and by reaching out to classmates he met in Zoom breakout rooms.
"Even though it’s been really hard meeting new people — and we probably haven’t made any best friends for life, especially with all these uncertain circumstances — there’s a lot of awkwardness, anxiety, uncertainty, putting yourself out there, getting rejected or not responded to," Aasman said.