Shrink campus through pursuing interests, developing friendships


By Susan Szuch

For any student entering the University, the sheer size of campus and amount of people in attendance can be overwhelming.

While it might take some time, it’s not difficult to make this school of 40,000 feel like home.

I was fortunate to be in one of the smaller colleges on campus, which meant I acclimated to my surroundings faster, often seeing the same faces in my classes.

However, others may not have the same advantage. Those in larger colleges like Engineering or LAS shouldn’t worry, though — so much can be done to avoid feeling like just another face in the crowd.

Even though a new school means a fresh start, it’s also an opportunity to explore interests. Instead of trying to fit into the crowd, students often find better success when they keep sight of their own passions and experiences. It’s easy to pursue these interests given that there are more than 1,100 registered student organizations on campus. Students can join groups dedicated to raising social awareness of human rights issues like Amnesty International, or can find others with similar interests, like in the League of Legends Club, which brings together people who are interested in the online game.

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Wherever a student’s interests may be, there’s sure to be a place that welcomes them without making them feel they have to compromise their identity. From activities with the Archery Club or the Yoga, Meditation, and Dharma Club to volunteer opportunities with groups like The Kranert Center Student Association, the possibilities to explore interests are endless.

In my case, being a part of The Daily Illini not only pushed me to explore the campus further and meet new people, but it also allowed me to feel like I was making a significant contribution by creating something that I was passionate about. The fact that I was able to find a place where I felt comfortable without having to blend into the background was a step in the right direction to calling this campus home.

Another benefit of taking part in extracurricular activities is having the ability to meet and facilitate meaningful relationships with others, which allows students to embrace the diversity of backgrounds and cultures that come with attending ait might help to specifically name a few other RSOs throughout the column just to give freshman an idea of them large university. This can help create an atmosphere of acceptance and openness, which allows students to feel more at ease.

Additionally, it helps to find someone who is experienced on campus to help show you around. Older students can provide guidance on everything from class selection to where the best places to eat on campus are.

Another way that students can make a large campus feel smaller is to familiarize themselves with the campus and surrounding area. Exploring the surroundings can be somewhat daunting at first, but students will eventually find one of the many university buildings that house a spot to grab a coffee or a place to hang out between classes.

Once you find a go-to spot for studying or meeting someone for coffee, it can make the campus feel a little less intimidating.

Although the thought of disappearing into a crowd may be comforting, for some students, adjusting to the vastness of the University is a challenge. The fact remains that it is possible to make a large campus feel like home if given time and the chance to develop relationships.

However, if these methods fail to work, and students are still experiencing anxiety or feeling hopeless, it’s important to note there are places where help is available. The Mental Health Clinic at McKinley Health Center, as well as the Counseling Center, both offer short-term counseling for students.

Susan is a sophomore in Media.
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