Winona State students pose together

Soon enough you will feel right at home in your new community.

Spring Semester is upon us; it’s a time to get back into the routine of school, go to club meetings and reunite with your friends. Although this is the main focus for many, it isn’t for some students as they are approaching this semester with anxiety and doubt. I am talking here about transfer students and students who have moved into a new residence hall. These students are coming into this semester in a transition period of their lives and have to deal with a new semester, school and community.

One of the hardest things to do when you are new to a community is finding out where you fit in. When a community already has an established dynamic  you may feel like your presence is a disruption in a balanced social ecosystem. Though many people will be welcoming, sometimes being accepted into a group is no easy task.

But that’s where I come in. As an RA, it is part of my job to create community in my residence hall and try to include everyone in what is happening on the floor. I’ve seen the awkward second semester adjustment first hand, so this is my advice to those of you going through this transition period.

1. Show Up to Floor and Hall Events

There are always events and get-togethers going on in every residence hall on campus pretty much every week. GO TO THESE EVENTS. You might not know anyone, but this is your chance to change that. Introduce yourself, be talkative and just relax. Don’t try to impress anyone, just be yourself and have fun–that’s the first step!

2. Find One Person Who Can Help You Acclimate

A great way to find your place in a large community is starting small. Get close to your new roommate, a floor mate or even your RA. Allow yourself to get close to this person to start out your friendship and eventually let them help you find your place in the floor community.

3. Give It Time

Of course you want to be friendly towards everyone, but don’t expect to be best friends with everyone in the community right away. Every community has unique dynamics and characters, you just need to take time and figure out how you fit into the puzzle.

4. Don’t Give Up

Getting to know new friends is hard, and it’s even harder to get to know people in an already established community. Although it might be super awkward at first, you’ll will become more comfortable over time if you keep working at it. You will find your place in the community as long as you stay persistent and engaged!