Welcome to college –the ultimate utopia of diversity and cesspool of intolerance. People from all walks of life step onto your campus, so of course there’s bound to be splitting views somewhere between you and your classmates. Does that mean there’s no way you can get along with each other? Nonsense, that’s crazy talk. Like Yin and Yang, you and other classmates can balance each other out with your unique perspectives and maybe even become friends. If you’re ready to prove that opposites can attract and get along, then follow these tips.
Find Something in Common
Whether it’s music, art, sports, Tom Hiddleston, Korean dramas or your hatred of chemistry, you and your fellow classmates are bound to have at least one thing in common. When my roommate and I were settling down in our new dorm as innocent freshies, we were absolutely thrilled to realize how much we had in common. Love/obsession with anime? Check. Cosplaying on the side as a fun hobby? Check, check. Fondness for wearing multi-colored thigh socks (I love my rainbow thigh highs)? Check, check, check. Who knows, your classmate might even be your soul mate if you’re both willing to look past first impressions and make an effort in getting to know one another.
Be Open-minded, But Not Too Much
As pipe-smoking GK Chesterton once said, “Do not be so open minded that your brains fall out.” This is true for people who really, really want to get along with people, but in their mad attempt, they lose themselves along the way. Be open and willing to hear from other people. It shows them you’re someone whose mind isn’t closed off from learning new views, perspectives and insights. Just as you’re trying to be open to getting along with others, your classmates should also return that same courtesy and attempt to hear from you. I try my best to listen to my classmates’ different opinions on class and life, but I won’t let go of my Catholic faith simply because a cute guy starts spouting a conspiracy theory against my religion. To this end, I shall respectfully disagree with thee, cute but loony heart throb. Sorry, but the Pope is not an evil alien overlord out to rule the world, thank you very much.
Talk Things Out
Even when you try to get along with classmates, there might still be friction. Hey, no one said this would be easy. See if you can ask the other person to talk in private and try to smooth things over. Clear up any misunderstandings, agree to disagree, apologize when needed and try to show tolerance towards one another. You may not become best friends or soul mates, but you’ll both regain the respect of the other person by talking it out like the mature adults you almost are and attempting to fix whatever caused problems between you two in the first place.
If That Doesn’t Work – Plan B
Maybe you tried to be the bigger person and talking things out didn’t go exactly as planned. Or maybe you didn’t even bother to try to smooth things over with your classmate – admit it, you were probably thinking of the latter. If someone’s very presence is toxic to you, just avoid him. Nowhere in the college manual does it say you need to embrace each other, make an exchange of blood and swear in as blood brothers – leave that to the sororities. We get it, some people are just too different (and maybe too stubborn) and spending time apart, hopefully temporarily, is a smart choice. But always remember to reach out for help if the situation is too out of control and you need assistance from somebody with a more objective and non-biased point of view. That’s when a visit to your campus mental health center might come in handy.
If Talking and Avoiding are Out of the Question, Laugh
Laughter is a universal language. Share some jokes with your fellow classmates. Even enemies can share a few jokes here and there, right? Poke fun at something you both dislike, giggle at something or someone you love and just get those endorphins running. Everyone enjoys a good joke, so why not be the first to make people share a laugh or two? If you can make somebody laugh, you can totally play nice with each other and survive another long semester together. My personal favorite joke to get others laughing is, “My mother always says, “Rocio, if you find a person laughing or smiling to themselves, it means they are thinking of something evil!” Funny thing is that I seem to do it a lot.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up. Hear that record scratch? The sound of crickets? Why would I ever suggest such a thing? Yeah, it sounds insane, but it’s a good idea. Hear me out: You have a better chance of getting to know someone outside of class than you do during lectures. During class you’re preoccupied with taking notes and attempting to learn the subject matter, but once it’s over, that’s when your true colors come out. See if maybe you and some classmates can schedule a time to go to the movies or have lunch at the food court. People are more likely to loosen up when there isn’t a professor hovering over their heads. Who knows, your first impression of a person may be completely different from the real individual you meet outside of the classroom.
Think Happy Thoughts
Seriously, positive thinking can help you in the long run. Maybe your first impression of someone was poor, but should that be the only experience you have with them? Just like you, people want a second chance, so instead of crossing someone off your list, actively make an attempt to put aside the judgment first impressions tend to create and try to cut your classmate some slack. Maybe she’s shy and first meetings are hard for her, or it’s possible that she was having a difficult time and was not her real self. There’s more to everyone than our first introductions make us to be. Let’s think happy thoughts, inner peace and all that optimistic stuff that makes serious people like me cringe and enjoy the semester with our classmates and hopefully future friends/comrades in arms during finals.