Whether it’s your first year in college or your eighth, coming back to school is always an odd experience. You’ve got new classes, new neighbors, maybe new roommates, and lots of time around new people.

Meeting new people and making new friends can be really awkward – walking up to someone with your arms outstretched, throwing down a bear hug, and saying “want to be my friend?” might not fly. Naturally meeting people, and not being weird about it, is tough.

Here’s a few tips on how, without any awkwardness or weirdness, to meet people in the various new areas of your school year.

Borrow Something

This one’s a personal favorite, and is a great way to meet new neighbors, or even get to know roommates: ask them if you can borrow something. Poke your head in the door, and say “hey, I just moved in. Can I possibly borrow duct tape/salt/laundry detergent?” Boom. You’re conversing.

Introduce yourself as they’re looking for your something (no one’ll turn you down for table salt), and you’ll have a solid couple of minutes to get to know each other. Make sure you offer to return the favor, and now at least you can say hi when you walk out of the building at the same time.

Talk about class

Classes are the easiest, and most natural way, to make new friends. Everyone loves talking during class, and if the person next to you doesn’t, you don’t want to be friends with them anyway. At some point during class, just lean over and ask a question: something like “what was the name of that animal?” or “when did she say the final is?” works beautifully.

They’ll answer, then you say thanks, and then introduce yourself. Say something after class, maybe walk out together, say “see you next class!”, and you’ve made yourself a new compadre in class.

New kid? Just say hi.

Your first year at college, the hardest and most awkward part can be the first couple of days. You don’t know anyone, it feels like everyone knows each other, and your inclination might be to just stand in the corner for fear that whoever you talk to won’t like you.

Three words: get over it. Everyone who’s new to college feels like you do. No one knows anyone, no one knows where they’re going or how college works, and everyone’s looking to make friends. Find someone who’s trying to figure out where they’re going, and hunt your class down with them. Or find someone on your hall, and see if they want to go to a party – even if they’re terrible, at least you walk in the door with someone at the party.

Just strike up a conversation, usually about nothing at all (asking questions is always a good tack), and you’ll be amazed how receptive people are to a friendly person.

Commiserate

I’m completely serious here: the single easiest way to make a friend is to hate on someone together. Maybe it’s your stupid grad student TA who’s giving you extra work for your class, or maybe it’s that loud kid who lives across the hall, but if you’re walking out of class or out of the dorm together, there’s no better way to spark up a conversation than “Wow, this class is going to be ridiculous.” Hate on someone for a while, and then toss in the “I’m David, by the way.” Works like a charm.

Making friends isn’t the hard part – it’s that initial “hey, how are ya?” that can be so difficult and uncomfortable. Whether you follow the above tips or not (and they’ve definitely worked for me), the key is this: talk about something, then introduce yourself in the middle. That way you’ve already got a conversation going, something to talk about, and the beginnings of an adorable and wonderful BFFL-ship.

How do you meet new people?