The surprisingly essential ingredients of my social life

Making friends without a coffee budget


I figured a successful college social life relied on coffee shops and parties, which concerned me because neither is my natural habitat. I’ve patched together a healthy network on my own though, and I’ve found that a couple unexpected happenstances have become staples of my socializing.

Guest swipes

The greatest advantage I have is my meal plan, but at first, I thought it was my greatest weakness. Once my second-year hit, most of my friends made a mass exodus from the dining halls to their own kitchens. Suddenly, I was left in Newcomb with a bunch of fresh-faced strangers. I thought my social life was over — a casualty for my loyalty to the admittedly average dining halls.

After a couple sheepish texts to acquaintances asking if they wanted to be swiped into Newcomb, I got a lot more interest than I expected. I think I’ve figured out the phenomenon, and now, I market my invitations to dining hall dates to play my strengths. You should hang out with me because not only do you get a free meal, you can load up on as much food as you can and bring some home in order to supplement your food budget — and maybe talk to me if you feel like it!

Econ problem sets

Picture this — it’s late. You and your study group have been at the same table for two hours. You’ve just defeated a titan of a question with six roman numerals of sub-questions, but it’s thinned morale and endurance in your camp. Pressing on, your study mates have two options.

a.)   Determine how many tickets an airline should sell to maximize profits if it’s flying a 10-seat plane from D.C. to Detroit, bearing in mind that tickets on the flight cost $350 and passengers who buy tickets fail to show up for their flight 10 percent of the time. Also, if a passenger doesn’t show up, they forfeit the cost of the ticket! The airline can overbook the flight — it can sell more than 10 tickets even though the plane only has 10 seats. However, if a passenger with a valid ticket arrives for the flight and cannot be seated, the airline will have to refund her $350 and pay compensation of $125.

b.)   Ask how your day was.

You can guess what choice they’re going to make to maximize their utility.

We get problem sets every week, which means a guaranteed hangout every week. I mean sure we have to do econ during it, but hey, it always gives us something to talk about.

Being alone

Don’t get me wrong — human interaction is a great idea and all, but I’ve found I like spending time with people much more when I have the option to leave said people and recharge on my own. As Thoreau put it, he had three chairs in his cabin — one for solitude, two for friendship and three for society — and I find each one equally important.

“How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

Once I met this mighty book at a Barnes & Noble bookshelf, I knew I had met a lifelong companion. I’ve found its maxims ring true in a bunch of conversations that just limped along until I incorporated Dale Carnegie’s tips. I won’t tell you what they are though, you need to consult the Carnegie!

These things have carried me through three years of college, but I didn’t notice how important they are until recently.

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