Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

College life won’t be like the movies

Joining a club is the best way to make new friends, but it’s not as easy as it sounds
Cade Belisle

As we near the end of this academic year and a new freshman class is getting ready to set foot on the University of Massachusetts campus, I’ve found myself thinking about my freshman year a lot and wondering what I could have done better.

When I first started applying to colleges, everybody would tell me that I should join a club as fast as possible because it’s the easiest way to make friends. Looking back on that now, after three years, it is sound advice. However, nobody ever mentions how extremely difficult following that advice is.

From college coming-of-age movies I binge-watched the summer before freshman year, I thought it would be so easy. Sure, the movie protagonists struggles at first as they leave behind their family and friends, but eventually, they figure it out and gain a whole group to spend time with.

Even in real life, orientation leaders tell stories of how they met their closest friends during freshman year. Usually, they meet through the orientation process or in a club they joined. Nobody ever prepared me for a college experience that wouldn’t look like the movies. Looking back, I shouldn’t have expected that, and I honestly probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.

I struggled for a while during my first and second years as I hop-scotched my way through various clubs. I transferred after my first year and am an out-of-state student. While transferring was one of my better decisions, it didn’t make the journey any easier.

At UMass, there are nearly 300 Registered Student Organizations, but sifting through each one to find the right fit can be exhausting. It should be exciting to try new things or learn to re-love an old hobby but realizing that there are 300 organizations can be daunting and discouraging.

To this day, I’ve never truly had a set friend group, but so many of the people I have met along the way expressed the same struggles as me. It’s hard to put yourself out there, especially when it feels like everyone already knows each other and they aren’t willing to get to know you. It’s hard to work up the courage to join clubs or organizations when everything is so new and intimidating. I’m still intimidated by walking into a room full of people when I don’t know anyone, but it is slowly getting better. I’ve learned that the best thing I can do is continue putting myself out there and taking advantage of each opportunity as it comes.

Many of my friends thought they were alone in this struggle. We had long conversations about how impossible it feels to make new friends after freshman year and how everyone seems to be always judging the people around them. It’s hard to move past the feeling that there’s a spotlight on you and everyone is waiting for you to mess up.

Realizing that people are going to come and go in my life has been an interesting process as I continue to explore this campus and meet new people. My life still isn’t like the movies and I no longer expect it to be, but I am extremely grateful for the friends I have. So, joining a club and putting yourself out there should be something every college student does, no matter their year. It’s just important not to expect it to be easy.

Katie Seda can be reached at [email protected] and followed on X at @KatieSeda_.

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