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Author Topic: College Blues
MichSM2
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Hi People.

I'm a freshman at Northwestern University. I am quite lonely and frustrated with my attempts to make friendships. No one calls me or even wants to talk to me. It sucks.

I like my classes, except for one. This class involves a field trip with peers into Downtown Chicago. I don't know anyone in the class (predominately upper-classmen who live off-campus) and asked the professor if I could go to one event with her to satisfy the field trip requirement. She insisted that I go with peers. I was heart-broken not by that statement but the fact I sensed she felt annoyed by my presence. So I am leaving her alone.

I do not want to ride the train alone into a big city like Chicago. I also want to make friendships that last and people will want to talk to me, not stare at me like I'm strange. Help me.

Frustrated & Lonely Girl


Posts: 93 | From: Michigan, USA | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DarkChild717
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Hello.
I was once a new college freshmen too. And It was hard.

I would recommend simply talking to people, or if they say something that interests you, go on that. Say if someone wants to go to the Field Museum because they heard that Chocolate Exhibit was tasty, and you share that thought, you could say, "Hey, I thought that sounded like fun, too. Want to go together?"

As for the Chicago mass transit system....It's really easy to navigate, and this is coming from a tourist who HATES mass transit. It's all integrated with a nifty little pass that you just keep putting money on. It works for all the mass transit systems. I never use it in my own city, but that was all we used in Chicago. I don't know what line you live next to, but jump on the El and go to the loop. Study the maps for a while. If you take the blue line downtown, I think State will put you close to the trolley stops for the Navy Pier. Hard Rock Cafe is a few streets over from the Red Line. And you meet some really awesome people on the train. Sit down, and if your neighbor seems friendly enough, strike up a conversation.

We met a family of deaf Japanese, a former Seattlite, and some real nice people. It can happen.

------------------
"Come my sisters and brothers,
and listen to my tale,
For I have walked the corridors of heaven,
and finally seen the stars."


Posts: 2789 | From: The Evergreen State | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BruinDan
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Hail to purple, hail to white; hail to thee, Northwestern...

The good thing about frustration and loneliness is that they tend to be transitory by their very nature. Both of them are solveable, and usually they have the same solution. Perhaps it isn't entirely that simple, but it's close.

I'm curious to know what you are doing to ease your frustration level and shed your loneliness. Are you partaking in any campus events? Football games? (Come on, you guys almost have a winning record so far this year...that is cause for celebration!) Dormroom get-togethers? Study sessions? Campus rallies? Local concerts? Exercise clubs?

I could go on and on here, but the point is that college best serves those who are looking to be active. It's all too easy to succumb to the "study-every-hour-of-every-day-and-keep-your-door-shut" mentality, I saw plenty of people (including my ex) fall into that during freshman year and regret it years later when they felt they'd "missed out" on the college experience. How much they missed is debatable, but it is true that there are certain times of your life when you are not only able, but downright encouraged to expand your horizons. College is one of them, and I can't think of a better place to be than Evanston, Illinois. (And perhaps it's because my parents met and married there, or that I was born there while this site's founder raised hell a few floors away)

The idea of taking a train alone into Chicago may seem daunting, but people do it all the time. And come on, Detroit isn't exactly a small town either, right? You can do what you set your mind to, and being bold and broadening your view of the world is always a positive step.

As for the professor, sometimes they can be brusque at large institutions. There were 35,000 people on my campus and damned if I had the chance to introduce myself to very many of them. Basically, it's damned near impossible when you're in a lecture hall with 800 of your closest friends to try and forge a friendship with a professor. And why would you want to? These peers of whom you speak are not your friends yet because you have not met them yet. Regardless of whether they are upper or lowerclassmen, you will have a much easier time in that class once you get to know the people who surround you. And it doesn't have to be all of them...find one person who looks interesting, introduce yourself, see how it goes. If it fails, fine, there are more folks in the class than just that one person, right? I think your professor is actually doing you a favor in disguise by encouraging you to participate with your classmates. I sure hope you do that.

Making friends doesn't come easily for some people, so I can appreciate that it might not be happening overnight with you. But school has really only just begun for you. It's awfully early to write off college (or even this year) as problematic, especially when it appears so completely fixable. I remember being incredibly lonely for my first night in the dorms...until I realized that only 8% of the incoming freshmen had moved in that night and that the rest would follow later. Nobody called, nobody dropped by...and it wasn't until I went out and met people (the next day) that this changed. The same can, and likely will, hold true for you, darlin'. You just have to get yourself out there. (And, as an aside...if all else fails there is certainly one guy in Chicago who is in dire need of a friend right now)

However it goes though, I wish you the best of luck. Get out there, make yourself available, and be proactive...and good results are sure to follow. I'd take my own advice right now too, but I've gotta head for bed so I can be up bright and early for tomorrow's big UCLA tailgate party at the Rose Bowl.

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BruinDan, "Number Three," PHOM

Beware the naked man who offereth you his pants.


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MichSM2
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quote:
Originally posted by BruinDan:

The idea of taking a train alone into Chicago may seem daunting, but people do it all the time. And come on, Detroit isn't exactly a small town either, right? You can do what you set your mind to, and being bold and broadening your view of the world is always a positive step.

As for the professor, sometimes they can be brusque at large institutions. There were 35,000 people on my campus and damned if I had the chance to introduce myself to very many of them. Basically, it's damned near impossible when you're in a lecture hall with 800 of your closest friends to try and forge a friendship with a professor. And why would you want to? These peers of whom you speak are not your friends yet because you have not met them yet. Regardless of whether they are upper or lowerclassmen, you will have a much easier time in that class once you get to know the people who surround you. And it doesn't have to be all of them...find one person who looks interesting, introduce yourself, see how it goes. If it fails, fine, there are more folks in the class than just that one person, right? I think your professor is actually doing you a favor in disguise by encouraging you to participate with your classmates. I sure hope you do that.


Thank you everyone for posting. It's nice to hear that my lonliness is natural. I can hardly remember my freshman year in high school. I have been going on lots of trips into Chicagoland area just to explore and get my mind off other things.

What seems to bother me the most these past days is how my professor's reaction to my *dilemma*. She just shrugged me off like she didn't want to have anything to do with me. I know this is not high school anymore (I went to a small private high school of 300 kids, talk about personal attention!) and rarely have I had signs of depression. I feel depressed that I may have upset or annoyed my professor in a way she may look highly down on me. I don't want this to affect my grade in her class too. (There's five freshmen and 65 people in the class.)

I don't know why I feel this way.


Posts: 93 | From: Michigan, USA | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wobblyheadedjane
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It's been my experience that professors who come off as brusque are really just trying to encourage you to ask the right question/do the right thing, as per the lecture/class requirements. I had a number of professors last year, and this, who shot down entire theses I had composed pretty brutally. But when I approached them the next day with "Well, I was way off with X, but what if I did Y to it, and studied the notations out of Z?"; they'd sit down with me for an hour and help me iron out the small bugs in my outline. I genuinely think that annoyed sort of persona that unversity profs have is a screening process for who is serious about the course and who isn't. That's not to say that you're not serious- clearly you're worried about your grade and want to fill the field trip requirement. But it might be worth it to explain to the professor during office hours that you are a bit nervous about approaching your peers when you're not familiar with them, and perhaps asking her if she's dealt with something like that in previous years? Maybe she'll have some tips for you, or suggestions like Bruin's on meeting people in your class.

If that fails, well, some professors can just come off as jerks, but that rarely interferes (and nor should it) with the marking process.

Just concentrate on getting out there, checking out some events where you can meet people from your class or year. Do you live on campus? That makes it a heck of a lot easier to meet freshman, and go to on campus events.

Good luck! I was pretty squirrelly my first month or so at university, but with so many interesting and different people around, it's easy to find a handful that you'll really come to enjoy hanging out with.


Posts: 1679 | From: London, ON | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Etch
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I just want to make sure that this one professor doesnt discourage you from talking to other professors. Big university teachers are often busy, but most of them really do enjoy talking to their students. Not all of them are going to be so standoffish.

And like Wobbly said, she might just be trying to push you into the right questions or to push yourself to do something outside your comfort zone so you can expand that zone.

Also, there are always tons of clubs on campus. You could join one in your interests, or even branch out and join one that just seems interesting even if you don't know much about it. They are great ways to meet people.


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Shann2002
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MichSM2,

I know exactly how you are feeling.I am a sophomore and I still feel like I have not made enough friends, but this year i joined a few clubs and that helped out a lot! I met people with interests similar to mine and even though i prefer to be home (I am a big baby, i know! ) i am having a fine time while being here at school.


Posts: 127 | From: Da Dirty South | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gumdrop Girl
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Sounds like this isn't about college nearly as much as it is about being social (which, surprisingly, happens outside the context of college settings).

I think an important thing oyu need to do for yourself right now is to learn to make some friends, deal with any shyness issues you might have and the like. I really do have to say, school (college and otherwise) affords you so many social opportunities that you will probably never ever see again for the rest of your life. Seldom in other settings are people so surrounded by such a large and diverse group of people and given the opportunity to interact with them all.

in general, may i suggest the following links: http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/Forum9/HTML/000613.html
and
How to Approach People/Meeting People http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/Forum3/HTML/000728.html http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/Forum3/HTML/001665.html http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/Forum3/HTML/000774.html http://www.scarleteen.com/forum/Forum3/HTML/001643.html

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Posts: 12677 | From: Los Angeles, CA ... somewhere off the 10 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
lemming
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Hey, babe.

I'm a college student in downtown Chicago. this is my senior year--I've lived here for a little over 3 years now. and I've been into Evanston, and yeah, it's a bit of a train ride. but just for a little reassurance:

-The CTA makes it really easy to get around, especially if you just use the el trains. the buses can be tricky to learn, but the el trains all have maps of the systems and the lines on board, and the stops are clearly announced. you can see maps and routes at http://www.yourcta.com , but likely all you'll do is get on a Purple Line train towards the Loop and get off somewhere like Madison/Wabash (for the Art Institute) or transfer to the Red Line and get off at Roosevelt for the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, or Adler Planetarium.

-Chicagoans seem to be pretty friendly about directions. There are a lot of people in this city that didn't grow up here, and they mostly remember what it's like to be confused in the big city. so just ask!

-You only get a few years in college. Carpe diem! see as much as you can, and get around. the CTA is awesome, and you probably have a U-Pass--take advantage of it!

Hope this helped ;]

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Laurel Lemming
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Kissing girls in English at the back of the stairs, you're a honey with a following of innocent boys, they never know it because you never show it..." - Belle and Sebastian


Posts: 3156 | From: Austin, Texas | Registered: Jun 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Psychodahlia
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Hey I am in the exact same situation as you, only at a different school and all I can say is it really sucks! I know absolutely no one and I am alone most of the time even when I am surrounded 400 people in some of my lecture hall. But my advice would be stick with it, at least we know we can survive it and we'll come out stronger.
Tak each day at a time and try to step outside your comfort zone every day - for me personally I am painfully shy so I have been trying to start up conversations with the people I sit next to in my lectures...not always successful but in a room of 400 people if you make a fool of yourself who cares...you'll probably never see that person again. Also try and get involved, I forced myself to go on some excersion that meant really long bus rides with people I don't know and ended up having really good conversations. I also joined some clubs which are helping me get out there and active.
The worst possible thing you can do now is sit around and do nothing...I did that for a week and got so miserable I couldn't even think about my family and friends without crying!
I don't know if any of this was helpful...but hey you'll get through it and so will I, I am convinced I am not the only freshman feeling this way on campus. The good news is things probably can only get better from here! Good Luck hope everything works out, I know it will.

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MichSM2
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Okay, I have been following everyone's advice. However, I feel people are condescending on me and want to have nothing to do with me.

I went with a professor on a mandatory field trip and a dinner. I enjoyed the speaker. After that, we had dinner in downtown Chicago. While the professor was exhuberant and nice to the upperclassmen (it was a senior, senior, senior, sophomore and me, as a freshman), she was VERY MEAN and speechless to me. Maybe she's biased against freshmen or people who are not assertive about themelves. I have no idea.

When she dropped me off back at my dorm, she didn't say good night or anything. It was like she was happy I was out of her car. This is a different feeling than with your peers, when you know stupid ones exist and you can easily differentiate yourself from them, but when a professor is cold to you like that, that can really have some depressing feelings.

I'm sorry I'm rambling much, but that was what happened to me last night. A trip the restaurants Downtown that was great was spoiled at the end when I realized how apathetic some faculty can be, especially people like me.


Posts: 93 | From: Michigan, USA | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
logic_grrl
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quote:
While the professor was exhuberant and nice to the upperclassmen (it was a senior, senior, senior, sophomore and me, as a freshman), she was VERY MEAN and speechless to me.

Well, one possibility is that she already knew them. And not paying attention to someone isn't necessarily the same as being "very mean". She might easily have gotten caught up in chatting to the others and forgotten to include you too. Which is a bit socially inept, but not criminal.

quote:
when a professor is cold to you like that, that can really have some depressing feelings.

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that the professors are there to teach you. They're not there to be your friends. It's a professional relationship, not a personal one.

Sometimes a student-professor relationship does evolve into a friendship as people get to know each other through the teaching relationship, but mostly it doesn't.

So if you're constantly expecting professors who've only just met you to meet your needs for social interaction and non-work-related attention and support, you're going to be disappointed.


Posts: 6944 | From: UK | Registered: May 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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