The (Human) Needle in the Haystack
You don’t need me to tell you how many thousands of people go to the same uni, or study in the same city, as you. You’re surrounded by what seems to be all of them every time you go anywhere near your campus. Students are everywhere. All of the glitzy pamphlets, websites and student-attracting PR loves to make a deal of how much opportunity there is to meet new people of all backgrounds, faiths and cultures, and sometimes these messages can have you believe you’ll end up being ‘bezzie mates’ with about a thousand people each – each one of them having an enriching and life-changing effect on anything you ever do and/or think ever again. Where are you supposed to find the time to do a degree with all of these students sharing a little joke in coffee shops, or looking intense in seminars just waiting for you to pull up a chair and say hello?!
By all means, if that’s what you want to achieve from your student experience, then go out there and meet new people; speak to people as and whenever you can find them. Fill your life with faces and experience life from as many fresh perspectives as you care to discover. I’m sure you’re more than confident and competent enough to have an amazing few years during your degree because of it. However, if you’re not really that way inclined, there is still hope out there for the student who is more social caterpillar than social butterfly. Simple fact is, you don’t need to meet a thousand people to consider your student experience worthwhile and positively life-changing, like the marketing material would have you believe. Not even a hundred. Not even ten.
Sometimes, not even two. Graduates out there – sit back for a second and have a think. Who did you meet that’s had a real positive impact on your life that’s lasted well beyond graduation? Is there one name that keeps cropping up more than the others who undoubtedly also had a positive impact on your life, without you really intending it to? I’m pretty sure every graduate has that one name. I’ve certainly got one. You can meet that person at any time, and in any circumstance. I’m not even referring to any kind of romantic situation, because it wasn’t like that in my case. It doesn’t have to be someone you meet in Welcome Week. Sometimes, the best people you meet at uni are the ones you meet last.
It can take just that one person who, simply by being themselves and wanting to be your friend, can transform the way you view yourself and think about yourself, for example. Someone so different from anyone you’ve ever met before. Harness the awesomely baffling and yet euphoric feeling of thinking “why is someone so cool hanging out with me?!” and transform it into realising that actually, it’s because you’re really cool as well – you just never really realised it until they showed up and told you. In my case at least, it was meeting that one person and living that experience with them that did so much to make uni such a positively life-changing experience for me, in a way that meeting a thousand people having a picnic or looking chummy while playing sports, like the “Isn’t Uni Awesome??!?!?” PR material likes to show you, never could. It might be the same for you too.