Connecting through classrooms
by Asha Siad
The ability to make friends comes naturally for some people, but can be challenging for others. When creating friendships outside your area of study, through GNED courses and electives, most students admit that there are lots of obstacles they face beyond program differences.
“When people go into classes they already have their set friends, whether it be from high school or from their programs,” said Simone Patel, a human resources student. “They will feel more comfortable being with the people they know instead of introducing themselves to new people in order to make new friends.”
She said that although students are separated from the start due to program schedules, general education courses are neutral zones where students can meet people from different faculties. But even then, she said, it is still difficult because students gravitate towards their comfort areas or keep to themselves.
“I think it’s more so like a clique kind of a thing, so people stick to what they know and who they know, and they’re more comfortable with it,” said Patel. “If you try to make friends in other programs it’s harder to introduce yourself to them and to talk to them about things that would interest them, whereas if you’re in the same program it’s easier to make friends.”
Leanne Jeffrey, an accounting student and a friend of Patel’s, said that Mount Royal is very much a commuter campus, so it provides little chance to have a conversation when classes are finished.
“I know a lot of people who don’t stick around after class. When you’re packing up your books they don’t stay and talk, they just leave,” Jeffrey said. “They don’t take that time to spend and actually invest in people’s lives.”
While it is the student’s decision whether he or she would like to make new connections in class, professors also play a significant role. If a class is open to discussions, group projects and presentations, students are more likely to socialize compared to a class where there is only a lecture and minimal participation. Patel added in many classes, starting introductions only include your name and program, which she said divides students even more by labelling them into faculties.
“If we ask broader questions like: what do you guys do for fun? Do you snowboard? Or what kind of music do you listen to? People can connect on a different level,” Patel said.
That connection is only one of the advantages to having friends from other programs, who share the same interests.
“It’s nice to be able to sit down and talk about something completely different and just have a discussion, or just laugh, and not (talk) about an accounting class or marketing class,” said Jeffrey. “Just to be able to talk about life and get away from school for five minutes.”
Patel said that knowing people in different areas gives her the chance to call them up and ask questions about academic articles that are in their field.
“It’s like you can always lean on their expertise and be like, ‘okay, help me out, where do I go from here,’ ” Patel said.
“When we’re done school, we will be able to have friends and contacts in different fields, and not just specialized in your own,” said Jeffrey