Valentine’s Day? PSH–PALentine’s Day!

Feeling lonely this 14th of February? DON’T WORRY–you’re definitely not alone! I’m sure not every one of us has a significant other, and if you do, read this anyway. (Please.)

I’m proposing the idea of PALentine’s Day–a day when you celebrate your single life with your other single friends. I dedicate this stroke of inspiration entirely to Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation, who celebrates Galentine’s Day every time February 13th rolls around, with her girl-frands.

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So if you don’t feel like having another candlelit dinner all by yourself this year, desperately hoping for someone to fill up the seat across from you, then here are some ways you can celebrate your very own PALentine’s Day!

1. A romantic dinner with…friends?

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That’s right–get that same romantic dinner atmosphere except with your friends! Get those candles going. Eat with fancy cutlery. Exchange cute lovey-dovey cards. Okay, yeah. I admit it. This is going to turn out to be hilarious! What a better way to laugh your woes and heartache away than spend the time with your friends in a ridiculous setting?! Write messages like “Feline good when I’m with you” if you’re a cat lover or “Olive You” if that’s your favorite pizza topping. It’ll be a lot of fun, I promise! Just think how you’ll be reminded of elementary school when everyone had to give each other cards and candy in brown paper bags. (At least I did.)

2. Enjoying an activity with your pals!

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Whaddya all wanna do together? Answer: SOMETHING FUN, DUH! So…why not pick an activity and well, do it? Nobody’s stopping you and your friends from meeting up, after all. Racquetball, anyone? To whack your frustrations away? Or bowling to knock down the pins that stand in your way? Or even a nice, relaxing walk at the park. What do all of these have in common, though (besides relieving pent-up stress)? Answer: you’re with your beloved friends!! Being with them will make everything ten times better. You won’t be alone; you’ll be doing fun things; and you’ll be making your own unique memories on this special day.

3. Movie night…HUH?

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Have you ever heard this blasphemy before? A movie night with friends on Valentine’s Day? WHAT? No, you heard it right. I’m not speaking gibberish (and I have not blasphemed). First of all, it’s PALentine’s Day. Secondly, who cares!! You and your friends can watch a movie if you want–nobody’s stopping you, least of all the couples out there! Maybe give Happy Death Day 2U if you’re looking for a thrill. Or maybe settle for some Oscar-nominated films, like Roma (on Netflix) or Green Book or even Black Panther (also on Netflix) if you didn’t get a chance to see that yet. Whatever the movie, having friends to watch it with will definitely make the day less lonely and more fun!

Let me know what you decide to do on this…PALentine’s Day! 😉


I Am Thankful For…

Thanksgiving may have passed–and I hope you had a wonderful one–but here I go, talking to you about one rather specific thing (out of many) that I’m very, very, VERY thankful for: creative writing at Rutgers.

Rutgers has an amazing undergraduate creative writing program open to all students. You can opt to complete the certificate in Creative Writing or the relatively new minor. If you’re interested already (!), here’s a link

Here are just some reasons why I am in love with creative writing at Rutgers:

1. Fantastic Courses

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(Did you think I was going to write Fantastic BEASTS? Alas, no. But the new one in the series was ENTHRALLING.)

From Young Adult Fiction to Multimedia (with an array of subsections) to Advanced Workshop courses, there’s just such a variety of creative writing classes to choose from!! Each course operates as though it has a certain personality about it. These classes not only challenge you to use your imagination and produce creative work, but they also ask you to think critically and provide tools to improve in your craft. 

Creative writing classes are comprised of small, intimate communities of writers who support each other. Most classes have a workshop component in which each writer gets their relevant writing piece critiqued by their peers at least once during the semester. This gives writers the opportunity to share their creative work and receive valuable feedback. Courses allow students to grow as a writer and explore themes they may have never done so before.

Speaking very honestly, I’ve never been in a creative writing class that I didn’t enjoy. In fact, each one I’ve taken in my undergraduate career has been so insanely fun and informative that I would definitely do it all over again, no doubt. 

2. Inspiring Professors

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What is a creative writing class without someone to teach it? That’s where all the incredible creative writing professors I’ve encountered come in.

My professors don’t end at “incredible”. They are another “i” word: INSPIRING. They care about each and every student. They want to help every writer be at their best. They treat you not only as their student but also as a person. They are published authors, with a wealth of knowledge that they want to share with aspiring writers. They go above and beyond. They are honest about their feedback on a writing piece and just want to help you continue to grow as a writer. 

Creative writing professors bring life to their classes–imagination, creative exploration, reflection, critical analysis, and that personality I mentioned before. They are leaders and phenomenal teachers. Above all, they are one-of-a-kind individuals who love you for you are. They are truly inspiring.

3. Opportunities

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I could go on forever about how thankful I am for all kinds of opportunities I’ve received through Rutgers Writers House (yes, spelled with no apostrophe for a reason), so let me elaborate on a specific one: the Creativity Showcase. Every semester, Writers House hosts a Creativity Showcase, in which students read and/or perform their pieces in front of their peers, professors, and family. The Showcase welcomes submissions from any Rutgers student. Judges then select several pieces from the submission pool to be presented at the Showcase. This allows students to get their work out there and for some, the opportunity to share it with others. In the spring semester’s Creativity Showcase, the authors of selected pieces are recognized through awards. 

If you’re interested, I strongly urge you to submit your work for the Showcases and the award categories in your coming semesters!! 

Sooooo….thank you always, Creative writing at Rutgers, for all the positive changes you’ve brought in me over the years. I mean it. 🙂

~Tanya B.

The Capstone: Tips to Survive

So the Capstone may be in a couple of years for you. Or maybe next year. Or right now. Whatever the case, I’m gonna give you just a few tips on how to basically survive it. 


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Perspective, perspective! Currently, I am working on an Interdisciplinary Honors Thesis (IHT). An IHT spans more than one discipline and is backed by substantial research–it is a research thesis. With an IHT, you have an option for your final product to be creative. In my case, I’m investigating the representation of mental health, specifically related to grief, in literature. While I’ll be writing a scholarly report of around 20-30 pages, I’ll also be producing at least 50-page-draft of my novel, tentatively entitled Dimension X. This Capstone option, if you think about it, is just a long project. And projects are completely doable! If you approach your Capstone as a never-ending torture, that’s what it’ll seem like. Buuuut…if you adopt a different mindset, that your Capstone has a definitive end and it’s a matter of working on it in small doses, then it’ll automatically seem a lot more manageable and achievable.

*Keep in mind that you can complete your Capstone requirement through other options*


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Goal-setting is crucial when it comes to a long project like a thesis. Before I even started my thesis, I set goals about deciding what my topic would be and asking professors to be potential advisors. I didn’t stay (too) idle over the summer: I began preliminary research and wrote a decent amount for my story. Even then, I set goals on how many articles I wanted to gather or how many pages to complete. 

Goals are often achievable if they are realistic and you have a way to achieve them. For example, I gave myself deadlines throughout the summer and now for the Fall semester. I’m also running on a thesis schedule, in which I’ve outlined how many hours for what days of the week I’ll be working on which part of my thesis, as well as what I’d like to accomplish every week before winter break. This is very helpful because it gives me a structure. 


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No joke–this thesis is incredibly challenging at times. BUT you have many resources available to help you out. Never be afraid to reach out and ask for help! Meet with your advisors regularly. Don’t hesitate for one moment to ask them for advice. Chances are they’ve worked with several other thesis students and recognize how difficult it is to do a thesis. Other amazing individuals who can help you include Honors Program faculty and staff. You won’t believe how many times I’ve reached out to Dean Jones about the IHT. Rest assured, every time she was very supportive and cleared up a lot of my confusion. 

So when it’s time for you to think about your Capstone, maybe these tips will come in handy. Whenever that time comes, you’ll be great! And for fellow seniors working on their Capstone right now…KEEP ROCKIN’!

Firsts and Lasts


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I honestly don’t know how to feel. But I can tell you that I’m feeling a mixture of emotions–excited, happy, relieved, nervous, scared. I guess the best way to put it is nervous excitement. It’s almost October and there are so many things that need to be done namely graduate school applications. And there are things I haven’t done yet in my four years as a Rutgers student. So, I think this year will be full of not only lasts, but also firsts!


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Sadly, there will be lasts as a Rutgers student. To start off, I’ll have to bid adieu to my position as a writer for the Honors Blog. I’ll no longer have a peer mentee to guide through their first year as part of the Honors Peer Mentoring program. (Although I can assure you the mentees I’ve had have been phenomenal!) I’ll soon give my last tour as a Red Pine Ambassador (RPA) through Douglass Residential College for Women (DRC). I wonder what my last blog post will be about. I wonder what the last memory I’ll make with my mentee this year. I wonder who will be on my last RPA tour. I wonder about all the lasts I’ll experience at Rutgers and what they’ll be. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder.

Instead of wondering and anticipating the lasts, I want to live them. Rather than thinking, This will be my last _____!, I want to experience it with no judgement, no expectations. I want to say to myself, I’m going to make the best of this and cherish the moment. Folks, let go of your lamenting and live it for what it is! This is not solely relevant for seniors–this is applicable for freshmen, sophomores, and juniors as well. That’s because there are lasts regardless of which year you’re in. It’s what you make of these lasts that matters.


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Believe it or not, even as a senior, you’ll experience a bunch of firsts. Take me for example–my best friend and I recently got smoothies from Playa Bowls for the first time! (They were really good!) You’d think by now, I’d have gone to every place on campus and know everything about Rutgers to the point of rote. Actually, that is a load of rubbish, at least in my case! Even though, yes, I have gone to a number of locations throughout Rutgers, there is still a plethora of places I haven’t discovered yet! Playa Bowls is just a start of that list of firsts. (Next stop is Stuff Yer Face.)

I’m looking forward to other firsts I’ll encounter. Whether it’s with my friends or by myself, I hope to immortalize these firsts in my memory. And I’d like to approach them the same way as lasts–no judgment or expectations. This will be easier knowing that I’ll continue to experience firsts wherever I go and whatever I choose to do after Rutgers. 

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So, friends, I hope that from reading my last first post for the Honors blog this year (see what I did there?), you can think about your firsts and lasts, whether in a Rutgers or any other context!


It’s that thing looking back at you in the mirror or a pond or a shiny spoon: your reflection! How much time do we actually spend reflecting—thinking about our past successes, failures, improvements, and memories? Well, in this post, I’d like to do just that and give you some advice to REFLECT!

1. Reflect on SUCCESSES

A lot of us focus our energy on what’s not working, what could be better, what we don’t have that others do, but more than once in a while, it’s also a good idea to focus on the positive things about ourselves! Think about your successes this past academic year. What have you achieved? Did you land a cool internship? Did you overcome an incredibly difficult class? Did you receive an award or scholarship? And of course, success doesn’t equate to only huge achievements. Small ones count, too! It’s all relative, anyway. Did you meet new friends? Did you try a new activity or club? Reflect on it and tell yourself that you ARE worth it!

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2. Reflect on FAILURES

I just told you to focus on the positive because more often than not we don’t, but…yes, readers, it is also important to reflect on your failures. I don’t say this as a method to bring your mood or self-esteem down; rather, I suggest it for just the opposite! Yes, that seems weird, doesn’t it? Buuuut…when you think of something that you weren’t able to quite accomplish this school year, it helps motivate you to try harder or simply try again the next time! Can you aim to get better grades next semester? Can you apply for other internships if you didn’t get into your dream place? Can you budget more effectively so that you’re a little less broke after the semester ends? Can you adopt an open mind so you can get more involved? Thinking about the mistakes you’ve made helps you learn from them, and thinking about your failures encourages you to set goals for the future!

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3. Reflect on IMPROVEMENTS

As students and humans, we are just so busy with doing the next thing and the thing after that, leaving us no time to reflect upon our improvements and progress in various areas of our lives! Take a moment to mentally–or physically by writing it down–measure how much you’ve improved this year. This can be in terms of as a student, a worker, a family member, a friend, a person–whatever roles you take in your life. Were you able to manage your time better this year versus another time? Were you able to learn how to work more effectively at your job? Were you more supportive of that friend who needed you? Measuring your growth is vital in helping you understand how far you’ve come and how much farther you’ll go.

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4. Reflect on MEMORIES

What is reflection without thinking about all those good times you spent with people who matter to you? Did you go to awesome events together? Did you go on a road trip with your friends? Did you host an awesome event for your organization? Bust out your phone and swipe through some fantastic pics immortalizing your memories and moments!

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What else do like reflecting on? Comment below!

Perks of Being a 21-Year-Old

No folks, I’m not talking (just) about the ability to now legally drink. 

Over spring break, I turned 21! I was absolutely surprised on my birthday: my father had contacted some of my friends beforehand and gathered them at the mall. When I walked into the mall, my jaw dropped at the sight of my awesome friends huddled together at a table in the food court! I received amazing gifts from them, spent a lot of time purchasing jewelry from Icing, and ate a cup of Auntie Anne’s cinnamon sugar pretzels for lunch, but most of all, I made beautiful memories with my comrades. Later, my family and I ate a mouth-watering dinner at Ricky’s Thai. All in all, it was one of my favorite birthdays ever!

Although I didn’t have my first drink on my 21st birthday, I did a lot of other cool things. I want to share with y’all three perks of being a 21-year-old.

1. #Adulting

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In theory, you are legally an adult when you turn 18. But, in my experience, when you turn 21, it gets REAL. Reality starts to hit you: “Oh my gosh, I’m 21…I should probably learn how to do some important things…..” Of course, individuals are striving to be independent at any age, but I think to many people, the age of 21 is a marker in a person’s life. As a fresh 21-year-old, I would like to take further steps in building independence by continuing to learn to cook, for starters! I’m planning on getting a cookbook for beginners soon. I would also like to consolidate my career plans for the future–they’re still a bit murky right now! This includes thinking about education, jobs, and passions. But keep in mind, age is just a number; what matter more are your dreams and aspirations. 

2. Change

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As the age of 21 is viewed as a milestone for some, people tend to view this as a “new era” or a time for enacting change. When you’re 21, you get this renewed energy to change things in your life–like bad habits, for example–or make resolutions. You also feel like you want to make a difference in others’ lives–be the difference. In truth, you have the ability to change and enforce change at any age, any time of the year, any moment of your life. The ability to change and make change lies within you, not in a number! 😉

3. Responsibility

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This kind of goes along with number 1, #Adulting, but it’s still a little different. When you turn 21, you might get a lot of responsibilities thrown at you. Unfortunately, many people view this as a magical age signaling adulthood, but again–it’s just a number. Truth is, you might not be quite ready for all of these new responsibilities all at once. But good news–you can do it! Use others’ sometimes judgement of “She’s 21, so she’s an adult now” to your advantage. By this, I mean take these new responsibilities and expectations as a challenge to promote personal growth. See it as a positive! (And also, responsibility as in…please drink responsibly, too!)

Sooo…these are just a few perks of being 21. I’m sure there are a million others–comment below!


The Importance of a Mentor

Recently, I was accepted as part of the first cohort of fifty students for the Road to Communication and Media Mentoring Program. It is a new initiative led by Career Services’ Stacey Kohler that pairs a student with a Rutgers alumnus who is working in a communication field. This includes Content Creation and Editing, Digital Marketing (Social Media), Media and Advertising Sales, Media Production, Public and Corporate Relations, and Web and Graphic Design. I am very interested in content creation, or the production and contribution of information to media, and so I was paired up with an awesome mentor, who I will refer to as M. for confidentiality reasons, in that sub-field.

As a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program, this is the first time that I’m in the shoes of a mentee, which is exciting in and of itself! Even more exciting is the journey that I have ahead with M.  in this mentoring relationship. Just this past weekend, we had our first ever meeting (of course at Hidden Grounds because why not?!), and I have to admit, I was definitely a little nervous about it, but that quickly changed into a mix of emotions–excitement, happiness, and thankfulness. So here’s just a short list of three reasons why everyone should have a mentor!


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I honestly believe that one of the biggest advantages of having a mentor, especially during college, is the support and encouragement that they give you. Treat support like a gift–it’s incredibly precious–because as human beings, that’s a basic necessity. As college students, many of us are at the point where we’re unsure about the future, the steps to take, the path going forward. It’s when we’re overwhelmed by this sense of uncertainty that we need some form of support from others, and a mentor is a perfect source for this. They are there for you.


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Support and advice are closely related yet still a bit different. Supporting someone doesn’t necessarily mean giving them advice. Advice, on the other hand, has vital advantages of its own. Words of wisdom from your mentor can primarily provide you with a sense of reassurance. Whether it be on career choices, internships, school projects, time management, friend issues, chances are that your mentor has them covered because they’ve experienced similar obstacles. 


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Mentors are very valuable people who influence and augment your personal and professional growth. They push you to do your best, but at the same time, urge you to give yourself enough credit for your achievements. Your mentor will give you great feedback on both your successes and failures. Feedback is something that we don’t always get, but your mentor will give you honest suggestions to improve as a person as well as a professional. 

Even during my initial meeting with M., I definitely felt supported, got tons of insightful advice, and even grew a little as a result. Mentors like M. have your back on a range of issues and concerns. Most importantly, they’re rooting for YOU. I highly suggest forming relationships like this one at one point in your lives as it is incredibly advantageous. To connect with someone on this level is beautiful, and that relationship is everlasting. 

Read Much?

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Swamped with school work, club meetings, sports meets, social outings–the list goes on–it can be really hard to just sit down and relax. For those of you who are bookworms, do you find it sort of impossible to do what you love? Read? When’s the last time you’ve honestly opened up a glorious book that wasn’t for your courses? 

Speaking from my own experiences as a current junior, I can say that yes, it’s incredibly difficult to find time to read for relaxation, especially during the semester. However, it’s not impossible! In fact, I’m doing it right now. Even as the spring semester is kicking in hard as we enter our third week, I’m reading a couple of fiction books! (If you’re interested, I’m reading: Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson; The Name of the Star also by Maureen Johnson, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.) How am I doing it? Well, do what you do best and read on to find out!

1. In Between 

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You might be surprised with how much time we can find in between classes, meetings, or particularly, when you’re just waiting. Don’t let the wait time for getting your Hidden Grounds Nutella Mocha go to waste: whip out your book and start reading! Considering you carry around a book at all times, like I do (don’t laugh at me). During these times, we may become aimless and restless, so what better way to quench our boredom than read?! The minutes add up, you know.

2. Before Sleeping

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Reading before you go to sleep can be quite a calming activity. It helps you de-stress from your hectic day. It may even help you sleep better! There are several scientific benefits of reading, actually. Find out more about them here. Don’t underestimate the reading you can get in before your eyes start to droop!

3. Keep Motivated

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You were so busy that you didn’t even have time to breathe? Well, guess what? You’re in luck. Why? Because you can attempt to read–even if it’s just a few paragraphs for just a few minutes–the next day, or the day after that! Don’t lose hope, fellow avid reader. I aim for at least fifteen minutes of reading per day, and I have to admit, that doesn’t sound like much time at all, but 1) Even that is a challenge but 2) It’s doable. Try to not set a goal to read for an amount of time that will be difficult to achieve. It’s all about setting goals that are attainable, anyway! And of course, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Rejoice in those precious moments you are able to feast your eyes on the intricate words of a story. Take pride in the fact that you read for even a minute while waiting for your coffee amidst your busy schedule. Remember, it’s not about finding time to read; it’s making it!

So, my fellow readers, carry around a book, stay calm, and READ!

3 Ways to be Creative

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Helllooooo folks! As we come back (to reality) from our Thanksgiving break, we may be at that point in the semester (or we were already there since Week 1?) when our brains have had enough. Need some me-time? Well, how about you relax and rejuvenate by engaging in fun, creative activities (and give Netflix a rest, maybe)? After all, November is International Creative Child and Adult Month! So here, you’ll find 3 cool ways to be CREATIVE! 

1: WRITE!!!

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As a Creative Writing minor and just someone who loves writing in general, I guess I’m just a little biased in suggesting that y’all should write if you’d like to be more creative. I’m talking about poems, creative essays (NOT Expos haha), short stories, flash fiction, fan-fiction. Maybe even venture into the realm of writing a NOVEL! It’s definitely not easy to write–or to be creative, to be honest. But I think as soon as you forget what others might think about your writing–the whole judgment thing–writing becomes easier. Journalling helps, too, for expressing your thoughts and feelings. Overall, writing is a cathartic activity that can undoubtedly help you cope with the stress that comes with college–or life!

2: Color!

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Stress-relieving coloring books are quite popular nowadays. Apart from having intricate and eye-catching templates, they also help you hyperfocus on the activity of coloring, allowing your brain and you some breathing space. This type of activity helps you enter a relaxed state of mind and asks you to creatively decorate a picture that is half-done. You’re the other half that completes it, which is something that tells your brain: “This is worthwhile!” Coloring in these books can hone your art skills, too! Ever want to be the next Picasso?

3: Start an Instagram Account!

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It is not uncommon for people around the world to use social media platforms, like Instagram, to showcase their creative talents. So, this is something you can take on to motivate yourself to channel your creativity! What is something your passionate about? Transform that passion into something that you can keep track of and market to the rest of the world. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to attain a certain goal. For example, several individuals out there create an Instagram account to solely track the progress of a project that they’re working on, like a novel. Each day or once a week–how ever many times they choose to post–they may upload quotes or scenes from their writing, or take pictures of objects and people that relate to their work. This is a self-esteem booster, as well as a way to share your talents and passions! Personally, I created an Instagram account–@4linespoetry–in which I can post poetry along with my own hand-drawn sketches or digital representations (using Adobe Illustrator) of the poem. Though it is challenging to manage the account with all of my other activities, it is still worth my time.

So, there you have it! Take risks, try something new! I promise that adding some extra creativity into your inexplicably busy college lives can ease the stress and worries! 

~Tanya B. 

Tips to Make Friends at RU

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Hm, I don’t really think there is a step-by-step guide–that effectively works–to make friends. That’s because making friends is a process. And processes sometimes mean taking steps back to go forward. Now, keeping that in mind, it must be somewhat difficult to make friends in a huge community like Rutgers. Classes constantly change, and so do dormitory arrangements, and if you’re a commuter, it might even seem impossible to find a friend. But it’s not! You can make a big place smaller–forming bonds with people–but you can’t make a small place bigger. So here are some tips to help you build meaningful friendships:

1: Talk!

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Yes, being a chattermouth may work to your advantage at Rutgers! In classes, especially if they’re in lecture halls, you may feel like you’re just another student in the crowd. Simply turning to a person near you and saying “Hi” can really make a difference! Now, I know that introducing yourself to a stranger may not be “simple” at all. But this is one of the first steps of the friend-making process: putting yourself out there. Introducing yourself signals to the other person that you’re willing to be open-minded. Chances are, the people around you are also scared and just looking for someone to chat with and connect to. In smaller classes, such as those that take place in classrooms, talking to someone may be just as intimidating. Something that has helped me make friends is contributing to small group discussions. When we’re done talking about the assigned topic/question, I try introducing a question of my own–“How is everybody doing today?” That gets the conversation started and soon enough, my group members and I are asking each other about where we’re from, what we’re studying, and other “getting-to-know-you” questions. Try it!

2: Make Plans

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So once you’ve established a connection with a new person, how do you go about sustaining it? One way is to pipe up and suggest that y’all do something together. Remember, this doesn’t have to be as lavish as heading to a fancy dinner place! In fact, try inviting them for a cup of coffee or to attend a campus event together. Even asking them if they’d like to study with you for that class is a great way to keep the relationship going. During whatever you guys choose to do, you’ll see that you almost automatically start conversing about several things, sharing details/experiences in your life—things like that. Ultimately, humans like to know that they’re not alone; therefore, we want to make connections and hope they last long. 

3: Keep in Contact

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Oftentimes, when semesters end, the friends you worked hard to make suddenly disappear. Now you guys don’t have classes together, don’t take the same bus routes, don’t live on the same dorm floor. Whatever the case may be, you still both have the ability to keep in touch. This is even more possible nowadays, with all the technology and social media that surround us. Make use of these tools! Once in a while, pop a text to your friend from last semester’s Literature class and ask how they’re doing. How are their new classes? How are their professors and the work load? Would they like to meet up? The last question may be a hard one to type out for some people. What if that friend doesn’t really want to hang out anymore? Of course, there are a lot of What If’s, but if you don’t try asking, how will you know the answer? Challenge yourself; give it a shot! 


Undoubtedly, friends you might’ve been close to for years may grow apart, for a number of reasons. That’s something difficult to go through, but it’s not the end of the world. Friends come and go. There are so many people out there for you to befriend. I’m not saying finding new friends will replace the valuable relationship you might’ve had with someone, but it definitely will give you hope that you do have people who care about you. You just gotta find them!

–Tanya B.