Making meaningful connections: a guide to supporting your social health
By Myat Noe Pwint, Student Assistant Wellness Leader for Student Life
When you arrive in a new country, you’ve got a long list of to-dos. There are places to visit, new foods to try, and jobs to do part-time. Most importantly, it’s time to make new friends by building meaningful connections. No one tells you how difficult it is to make friends in a classroom, though. Most students arrive five minutes early, immerse themselves in what the professor says and pack up their bags shortly after class ends.
I wondered to myself — how are people making friends and living the lives we see on others’ Instagram Stories? Well, I would like to take you back to my very first semester at Douglas College.
On my first day of class, I felt dejected. Even though I thought I’d make plenty of friends when I arrived in Canada, I didn’t get to know anyone at all that day. So, I decided to be proactive and start signing up for school activities. I visited a lot of events, joined clubs, went to workshops and did volunteer work.
Read more: Get ready to snooze: A student’s perspective on the importance of sleep hygiene for mental health
The first step to making friends is joining
Now you might ask me, “How did you know about these events?” No special skills are required, I promise. The tip I offer is to keep an eye on the announcements posted on the school’s bulletin boards and online.
My closest friends and I met at EDGE. If you didn’t know, EDGE happens every year and is a highlight of student life at Douglas College. There are a number of volunteer opportunities too, including the Student Wellness Awareness Network (S.W.A.N.), where we often table at both campuses and discuss physical and mental wellness habits with students. I became friends with amazing people from the team and even students who passed by our table!
I can also confidently say that joining the Douglas Student Union (DSU) clubs was one of the best decisions of my life. Students organize clubs to play games, talk about interests, watch movies, etc. I joined in my first semester, and I have never-ending stories to talk about how much fun I’ve had.
Opportunities are given to those who search
People at Douglas know how to make students feel safe and included. Before I started school here, I was a really shy and quiet person. I still am, in fact – but I’m a lot more outgoing than who I was two years ago.
My experiences at school developed both my social and professional skills. It also helped that I volunteered with the Future Student Office (FSO), where their amazing team supports every student volunteer with the skills we need in facilitating or joining school info sessions. I don’t only get to be friends with super awesome people — I also get to build my network for my future professions and learn things that concern my career and education pathways. Now I am working as a Student Assistant for Student Life and the Douglas International office, and also as a Coquitlam Campus Representative at Douglas Students’ Union.
“Opportunities are given to those who search.” This quote always lingers in my mind. Whether it’s making friends or building your career and education pathways, there are support systems for you at Douglas. Join me and other students in building a school community that is joyful and nurturing for each one of us.
This blog post is a part of Beyond the Blues, an annual event that raises awareness of mental health issues for students, helps them better understand and support their mental and emotional health and highlights mindfulness and self-care techniques to help them succeed inside and outside the classroom. Learn what mental health awareness means for our students through their own words and personal experiences.