The Daily Illini

Dorms are a great place to make friends

Pennsylvania Avenue Residence hall located on the south side of campus is a popular dorm for freshmen.

Pennsylvania Avenue Residence hall located on the south side of campus is a popular dorm for freshmen.

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

Pennsylvania Avenue Residence hall located on the south side of campus is a popular dorm for freshmen.

By Rachael Bolek, Managing Editor for Online

Residence halls are a great place to make friends as a freshman, especially since you are required to live in a dorm for your first year at the University. Most of the people you meet in your building will be either a freshman or a sophomore, so you know those around you will be having some of the same experiences that your are. It also means there’s more of a chance you’ll have some of the same classes as those in your residence hall, which is very beneficial come midterms and finals.

Some of my favorite memories from my freshman year involve the people I met in my residence hall. If you’re lucky, those people you meet your first year will also become the people you are friends with for the rest of your time at the University.

It can be terrifying to move into a totally new place, most likely with a roommate you’ve never met before — messaging on Facebook doesn’t count as meeting — with many other strangers around you. Luckily, every other person in your dorm and on your floor is likely feeling the same things that you are, because they are doing the exact same thing. Because of this, make sure to use the first couple of weeks of the school year to your advantage, as everyone is looking to make new friends.

Your roommate

What better person to start making friends with than the one you will be sharing a room with for a year? Try getting lunch or dinner with your roommate on the first day you move in, whether you go to the dining hall or to Green Street. It’s the best way to move beyond the Facebook conversations asking how late you stay up and who is bringing the fridge. You could also knock on your neighbors’ doors to see if they would like to join you; you can get to know your roommate and the others on your floor all in one outing.

With that said, don’t be discouraged if your roommate doesn’t become your best friend. It is very possible that online it seemed like the two of you were a perfect match, but in person, you two just don’t work together very well. I have friends who are very close with their freshman-year roommate, and I have others who can’t stand them. This happens, especially since you’re in a very small room with little personal space; close friends sometimes stop being friends after living in a dorm together, let alone complete strangers. There are plenty of other people on your residence hall floor, in the building and on campus in general, so don’t worry.

Floor activities

Each floor of a residence hall has an RA, or residential adviser. These are the people who will look over the floor and who are there to help you if you ever need anything throughout the school year. Once you move in, your RA will likely hold a meeting for everyone on your floor. You should definitely go to it. It is required, and it also gives you a chance to see who lives around you.

Beyond the first day, many RAs will host floor events. For example, my freshman-year RA planned different events, such as taking us ice skating or painting in the floor lounge. They were a lot of fun, and since they were a little further into the school year, they were a great way to escape from studying and homework for a little while. If your RA hasn’t planned something like this but it’s something you’re interested in, talk to them. If your RA knows people on the floor are interested, then it might be more likely to happen.


Lounges in residence halls are also a great place to meet people. Apart from the lounge on your floor, there are often main lounges in each residence hall. People throughout the building usually gather here to study, talk or play games. At Florida Avenue Residence Hall, which is where I lived my freshman year, there was a piano in the main lounge. It was always a nice place to go listen to music whenever someone was playing the piano.

It’s intimidating to go off to college for the first time, especially if none of your friends from high school are going with you. You have to start over, and you have to meet all new people. Luckily, residence halls are filled with other freshmen who are also starting over. There are many different opportunities to make new friends in a residence hall, from roommates to people in lounges. Talk to as many people as possible, as you never know who may end up becoming your best friend.

Rachael is a senior in Media.

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About the Writer
Rachael Bolek, Managing Editor for Online

I’m a senior majoring in news-editorial journalism and minoring in public relations. I started at The Daily Illini as a copy editor my freshman year. Since then, I worked as a slotter, assistant copy chief and copy chief. I’m from Willow Springs, Illinois, which is a southwest suburb of Chicago. I’m currently in charge of overseeing social media, web development, brand managing and the copy desk. In my free time, I enjoy going to concerts, watching Marvel movies and attempting to cook.

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