By now, many of you will have met new people and made new friends. If you have found it difficult to make friends since arriving, or if you want to expand your group, here a few tips for how to branch out and meet new people (and a few things to avoid doing at the start!)
- Introduce Yourself
- Don't wait for people to come and talk to you, be brave and introduce yourself!
- Everyone is a bit more relaxed and approachable at a party. Go on Ents or society nights out, or to parties you're invited to. Even if you won't know anyone else, go along and see who you might meet. It can be uncomfortable at first, but stay for an hour and see how you get on. Remember to approach people to talk, they won't necessarily come up to you.
- If you're going to do some reading, or have time to kill, go to communal spaces rather than hiding in your room. Take out your headphones.
- Join in class discussions, or ask classmates about assignments/lectures. You'll come across as more approachable if you are open in everyday situations
- And get involved. Go to events, step up to participate.
- Particularly if you're commuting in and out every day. Don't always leg it immediately after class for the bus, stick around and see if classmates are doing anything. Find society events on during the day if you have breaks between lectures.
- This is one of the scarier ones, but if you're chatting to a classmate on the way out of a lecture, ask them what they're doing now and if they want to get coffee or lunch. Don't take it personally if they have other plans, continue to be friendly and ask again another time.
- Not when you're walking around on your own obviously, but people are drawn to happy people.
- If you are sitting with your arms and legs crossed and your head down, you are not approachable. Try to keep your body language open, your head up, and make eye contact (but don't stare!)
- Ask people questions about themselves, and be interested in their responses.
- Sometimes people don't think to give explicit invitations to things. If you are with a group of people who are discussing plans to do something, ask if you can come along.
Things not to do
- Don't be weird
- Everyone has a weird side, it's part of what makes everyone individual, but don't let it all out when you're meeting people for the first time. Telling people you have all of your baby teeth in a jar at home before telling them what you study might creep them out a little. As you get to know people better, you'll gradually find out about their weird side and they will about yours too (although, maybe still keep the tooth jar quiet!).
- Don't be too tactile with people you are just getting to know, and don't stand too close to people when you are talking. Try to leave about an arm's length of distance between you. If someone takes a step back when you are talking to them, they are creating their personal space boundary, do not then step forward into that space.
- Don't always be putting on a show for people or pulling attention back to you. You need to listen to other people's contribution to conversation as well as your own.
- This one is good advice in general, people don't like being lied to, and it's very difficult to keep a lie going if you are successful at becoming friends.
- We all love a good whinge, particularly when the workload is building up, but make sure to talk about positive things as well.
Where to make friends
Check in with your S2S mentor to make sure you know about meet ups that they organise, and go along to New2Dublin every Monday for the first 6 weeks of term. As well as classmates, make sure to check the Clubs and Societies, and if you're interested in something that there isn't a society for, have a look on MeetUp.com to meet some like-minded folk. Or you could always set up your own society!
Positive Peer Pressure
Peer pressure isn't all bad, your friends can also encourage you to try new things or talk you out of dangerous decisions. The friend who won't let you drive home after a few drinks is exerting positive peer pressure on you, likewise the one who convinces you to take up a new hobby that you end up loving.
Negative Peer Pressure
Negative peer pressure is the pressure to do something that you wouldn't normally do that will have negative consequences for you. Whether we like to admit it or not, we have all given in to negative peer pressure at some points in our lives. It's important that you decide what you are comfortable with, and become confident in saying no if someone is pressuring you. A good friend should respect your decision.
How to Combat Peer Pressure
- Play a script out in your mind. Think about possible scenarios and what you could say or do.
- Educate yourself. Learn about issues like drugs so you can confidently speak your opinion knowing facts.
- Speaking out pays off. If you hesitate you may be pressured more.
- Respect yourself. Refuse to give up on your values (whatever they may be).
- It's your life! Don't forget you always have a choice.
- Refuse. Don't let other people intimidate you.
- Don't put yourself in a position where you know you may be pressured to do something you don't want to.
- Pick your friends wisely.
If someone is pressuring you frequently to do things you are not comfortable with think about the following things:
- What is in this relationship for you?
- Do you respect them and their opinions?
- Do you trust this person?
- If you give in to the pressure, will you regret it later?
- Does it go against your values?
- Does this person respect you and your opinions?
- Do you respect yourself?
- What will you lose if you don't do it?
- What benefit is there in doing it?
- Is this a relationship you need or is it more trouble than it's worth?
Most of us experience feelings of loneliness at some point in our lives. It might be because we spend more time by ourselves than we want, or because we feel disconnected from the people around us. Isolation is when we are separated (or feel separated) from the people and things around us. We may be isolated because we choose to be separated from others or because of a situation we can’t control (such as moving home or bereavement).
It is possible to feel lonely and isolated when surrounded by other people. All kinds of things can set you apart – your sex, your colour, your height, your weight, being serious about school, or just looking different. You can also feel isolated because of how you think and feel, if you believe others don’t feel or think the same.
If you are feeling isolated
If you are struggling with isolation, you might feel like just giving up and cutting yourself off from other people. This is likely to make the lonliness and isolation worse. Try to stay connected with your community or to find activities where you can meet people who have the same interests as you. Doing things with others can really help – the more things you get involved with and the more people you get to know, the less likely you are to feel less isolated and alone.
If you have no family or friends living nearby or have lost touch over the years, this can be a source of isolation and loneliness. Why not take action to get in touch, even if it’s been a long time. Pick up the phone, write a letter or send an email. The good news is that others may benefit from your call too! Everyone feels a bit lonely at some stage or other - you can change this by making the first move. The key is to not wait on others to get in touch.
Dealing with difficult people
You will find yourself in situations while you are in college where you have to deal with difficult people and difficult situations. These might be friends, romantic partners, lecturers, TAs or family. Although uncomfortable, here are some general strategies for handling the situation without causing yourself too much undue stress.
- Keep your cool
- Keep a distance from them if you can
- Be proactive, not reactive - focus on solving the problem, not defending yourself
- Pick your battles - ask yourself if this is the hill you want to die on or can you live with it before engaging
- Put the spotlight on them - if the focus is on what's wrong rather than how to solve the problem ask them questions that will require them to think about solutions and not putting down your contrbutions
- Use appropriate humour, if the situation allows for it
- Confront a bully - if you can do so safely. If you are being bullied or harassed by anyone in College, you can find the Dignity and Respect Policy as well as the Student Complaints Procedure on the Policies website.
Types of difficult people
Clinging types want to be taken care of and loved. They feel weak and are attracted to stronger people. If desperate, they will cling to anyone. Don't try to avoid them, instead give them responsibility and show them how to do things for themselves.
Controlling types have to be right. There is always an excuse for their behavior (however brutal) and always a reason to blame others. Controlling people are perfectionists and micro-managers. Their capacity to criticize others is endless. They won't back down if you show them concrete evidence that you are right and they are wrong. They don't care about facts, only about being right. Controlling types can be handled by acting unintimidated. At heart, controlling types fear they are inadequate, and they defend against their own insecurity by making other people feel insecure and not good enough. Be strong and stand up for yourself. Above all, don't turn an encounter into a contest of who's right and who's wrong — you'll never outplay a controlling type at his or her own game.
Competitive types have to win. They see all encounters, no matter how trivial, as a contest. Until they win, they won't let go. Competitive types can't be pacified by pleading or any display of emotion. Competitive types are handled by letting them win. Until they win, they won't have a chance to show generosity. Most competitive types want to be generous; it improves their self-image, and competitive types never lose sight of their self-image. If you have a strong disagreement, never show emotion or ask for mercy. Instead, make a reasonable argument. If the discussion is based on facts, competitive types will find a way to back down without losing.
These people have their say. You can't shut them up. Mostly you can ignore their contribution, however. They tend to forget what they said very quickly. If they domineer to the point of suffocating you, stay away. The best strategy — the one used by those who actually love such types — is to sit back and enjoy the show.
These people are bitter and angry but haven't dealt with the reality that the source of their anger is internal. Your only option is generally to put up with them and stay away when you can. Don't agree with their complaints or try to placate them. They have endless fuel for their bitterness.
These people are passive-aggressive. They get away with doing wrong to you by hurting themselves in the bargain. If they arrive half an hour late at a restaurant, for example, they had something bad happen to hold them up. The fact that you are the target of the inconvenience is never acknowledged. The best tactic is to get as angry as you normally would, if called for. Don't take their victimization as an excuse. If the victim is a "poor me" type without the passive-aggressive side, offer realistic, practical help, rather than sympathy. (For example, if they say that they might fail a module, say "I can lend you my notes and help you study" instead of "That's awful. You must feel terrible.")
What is consent?
Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. There are many ways to give consent, and some of those are discussed below. Consent doesn’t have to be verbal, but verbally agreeing to different sexual activities can help both you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries.
How does consent work in real life?
When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes. Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.
You can change your mind at any time.
You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to clearly communicate to your partner that you are no longer comfortable with this activity and wish to stop. The best way to ensure both parties are comfortable with any sexual activity is to talk about it.
Consent can look like this:
- Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”
- Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”
- Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level
Consent does NOT look like this:
- Refusing to acknowledge “no”
- Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more
- Someone being under the legal age of consent, which is 17 in Ireland
- Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol
- Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation
- Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past
If you need support for sexual assault
If you have been assaulted, there are a number of services in and outside College you should make contact with.
- Your Tutor - only if you are comfortable discussing this with them, they will be able to put you in touch with any other College services you need
- College Health
- Student Counselling Service
- The Students' Union Welfare Officer
- Niteline - 1800 793 793
- The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre
- DRCC 24 Hour Helpline - 1800 77 88 88
- One In Four
- Women's Aid
- HSE Sexual Assault Treatment Units
- The Chaplaincy