Course: Socialising 101
Course duration: Anywhere between 20 minutes – forever
Course objective: To make you adept at being able to talk about anything, from the versatility of potatoes to whether life is possible on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
Remember how simple it was back in the day, when you could just indulge in a fight to death with your opposing tribesmen, kill them, bring back their heads as trophies, and everybody would want to be your friend? Good times. Now you actually have to talk to people if you want to befriend them. Seems scary, doesn’t it? Hopefully, by the end of this, you’ll realize that the only thing to be scared of is not trying. And bats.
The first thing that you notice about college is that there are A LOT of people, and I don’t say this to scare you. The fact that there’s so many people means that you get a lot of chances to do something stupid, and still end up with a well-functioning (they might have a thing for feet) group of individuals by the time you leave this place.
It can be quite overwhelming, seeing people make friends very quickly, big groups of people having lunch/dinner together right from the first week. The thing to remember though, is that there’s really no formula to these things. You meet new people, you talk to them, you like their vibe, and you become friends. That’s the general method, but the details you need to figure out yourself. Probably the most important weapon in your arsenal in this early phase of college is ‘small talk’. You may not believe it to be true, but trust me, talking about things that are small, such as leprechauns, the male ego, etc. makes it really easy for people to like you.
On a serious note though, small talk is vital. More often than not, you’ll be in a place where you don’t see any familiar faces. Your inner awkwardness gauge is hitting the roof, and all you want to do is lock yourself up in the washroom and spend the rest of your life there, curbing your hunger by scraping the tiles and eating them. That’s one way to go about life. The other, is to put on a smile, go up to someone, and tell them you like their outfit. Or anything nice for that matter. According to a research conducted by yours truly, people are 100% more likely to warm up to you if you come across as a nice human instead of a know-it-all, condescending one (Also the reason why dogs are better than cats. There. I said it).
Standard conversations to choose from:
- Where are you from? Oh, I love that place! My uncle lives there. Is the traffic situation really as bad as they make it out to be?
(The traffic situation is bad everywhere in India, so it really doesn’t matter what place they say)
- I hate MOS too! Yes, I have the solutions for the fourth assignment.
(Prepare to be worshipped as a God).
- The rains here are so erratic! How tired are you of carrying your umbrella around? I hope I don’t lose it.
- Have you seen my umbrella?
- Week 1: I love what they serve at the Food Court.
Week 2: Does your daal taste different?
Week 3: Hey, these papads taste odd. Oh, they’re rotis.
Week 4: Do you think humans can survive a year without food if all they do is sleep?
Topics to avoid:
- I have finished studying for chemistry.
- I got 8 hours of sleep last night.
- Hey look! They served me more chicken than you.
(Prepare to never see them again)
- Your hatred of memes.
Whether small talk is your cup of tea or not, you’ll never feel left out at MIT. Things may take time for you, you may face challenges along the way, but at the end, as long as you remain true to yourself, you’ll do fine. You’ll meet people of every kind here. People who pronounce “gif” incorrectly, people who like pineapple on pizza (may God help them), people who actually like Engineering Graphics. Essentially, regardless of who you are, just know that at MIT, you’ll never be alone. Whatever the occasion, you’ll find the nicest and the most remarkable people wanting to be your friends. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, step outside your comfort zone, do what makes you happy, and go crazy. You’ll have plenty of stories to take back home with you.