As an incoming grad student, I have a rather obvious question, which is something troubling lots of people here, I'm sure. Since we rarely have any academic contacts outside our own departments, where on campus are the best places and/or methods to meet women? It is a little too pretentious to just start talking to them out of nowhere....

Anxious for an answer

Dear Anxious for an answer,

Many new students find themselves asking the same question you are — how can I meet new friends or people I want to date? The answer depends a great deal on your own personal style and taste. Before you embark, think about some things such as: What activities do I enjoy? How did I meet people at my undergrad school? Would I feel more comfortable approaching someone in a bar/café/shop, or after a class? Then, when you're ready to go, there are many locations on or near campus where you may find people you'd like to know better. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Grad students from any Columbia school have a 'home' on campus; the Graduate Student Lounge in 301 Philosophy. Generally open from 10am to 6pm, the lounge serves tea and cookies weekday afternoons from 3 to 5 pm during the school year. You can also spend some downtime studying, reading the newspaper, and scoping for potential friends and dates.
  • Take some initiative! Organize weekly hors d'oeuvre parties for grad students or outings to local restaurants and bars. It's likely that others are craving social opportunities, as you are, and will be eager and appreciative of your efforts. You may find that popular social networking sites like Facebook are helpful in organizing events with other Columbians.
  • How about one of the many close-to-campus hang-outs? Try browsing the restaurants, coffee shops, and stores along Broadway, as well as those on Amsterdam, from 105th up to 125th. Find a place where you can sit near others and strike up interesting discussions with "strangers" of any gender.
  • There's also the Postcrypt Coffeehouse — one of the best music venues in NYC that's right here on the Columbia campus in the basement of Earl Hall.
  • If you're athletically inclined, how about the gym? You'll probably see the same people working out consistently and would have the opportunity to begin a conversation. You could also take one of the many classes offered at Dodge Fitness Center.
  • You may try visiting the delis and cafes at different grad schools on campus. How about Monday lunch at the Business school, and Tuesday snacks near Journalism? Visit the Dining Services website for on-campus deli and café locations.
  • Likewise, nearly all the graduate schools at Columbia have their own libraries. Why not switch up your study locale every now and then? You can find library information at… you guessed it — the Libraries website.
  • How about striking up a conversation after class or when you bump into a classmate elsewhere? You could say something like, "Hey, I really liked your comment in class today. I'm (your name)." Most likely, people will offer their name, too, and be flattered that you took the time to acknowledge their input.

For more ideas about how to meet people, and what to do once you have, check out Go Ask Alice! Relationships Q&A archive and the related questions below.

Have fun!

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