I started med school 4 years post college graduation. So naturally I was little nervous about going back to school and make friends. I expected most med students to be right out of college and I was not sure if I would fit in. However, more I met my classmates, more I realized many of my classmates took several years off post college. So I did not feel so out of place. I noticed that there are just as many people who took time off as those who are right out of college.
It is possible that it is only the case in my class. But I am willing to bet that it is a trend all over the country. If you are nervous about this topic, you can always ask about schools' student demographics on your interview day. Initially I thought that I was the only one who was nervous about meeting new people, but everyone was in the same shoes. Looking back, there was not any need to be so nervous about it.
PARTIES: There were countless orientation events and parties the weekend before school started. I skipped most of them, but went to a couple to meet a few people. Although I am done with whole going out to bars and house party scenes, I am glad I went to a few, because I met one of my best friends at the party. If you think you are not a big crowd people, it is ok to feel that way. But it is definitely worth it try at least one out to meet a few people who you might like.
THROUGH FRIENDS: I ended up meeting most of my friends through friends. That is actually how most people ended up meeting. You get close to someone and that person knows someone who you might like etc. It is a chain of people and I believe it is the best way, because if you find someone you like that person most likely like people who have similar interests.
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY: As I mentioned, since I have been out of college for a long time, I was out of my routine to go to extracurricular events. So I forced myself to sign up for at least one thing. It was a Bollywood Night event. In short, each class had a Bollywood Dance number at a school event. We had dance practices often for a few weeks. I met so many people through this event. It does not have to be a dance event, it could be intramural sports team, clubs and volunteer and community services etc. Just keep your eyes open.
STUDY GROUPS: I went to a few study groups, it was not something that ended up working for me. But I know many people who ended up being good friends because they started studying together. There were usually Facebook posts in the beginning of the year where people looking for study groups and partners. It would not hurt to check them out even if you are more of an independent study type of person.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF: I could not say I have done this many times at a setting other than the initial parties. But some people just introduce themselves and talk to people in cafeterias and gyms etc.
BE YOURSELF: It is going to be tempting to be someone you are not when you try to fit in. Initially it might be easier that way. But I advice against it. You are going to be with these people for a long time. Sooner or later, you will get sick of being someone you are not. There are plenty of people in your class that share similar views and interests as you. So if you feel like you don't fit in with a group, just keep meeting new people until you find your people.
DON"T TAKE IT PERSONALLY: You meet people and try to be friends, but they don't reciprocate it. What do you do? I would not take it personally. You can't be best friends with 150 people.Don't over analyze why someone does not want to be close friends with you. You just got to move on and find your people.
It is really overwhelming in the beginning, because you are in a totally new setting and everyone looks like they have found their places. But it is just an appearance and everyone feels nervous and insecure. So just don't overthink and be yourself.