Moving to university, especially when it’s internationally, is an opportunity to start afresh. Many students use this new environment to meet new people and to redefine themselves. However, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid people from your previous life. Whether it’s an old flame, a former school-mate or someone you used to work with, here’s the best way to manage that awkward situation.
Spotting someone out of the corner of your eye that you don’t particularly want to see is everyone’s worst nightmare. That gut-wrenching feeling is unforgettable. However, avoiding interaction does not mean that you can bolt for the door at the first opportunity. Instead, analyse the situation. If it seems that you’ve managed to spot them without them doing the same, then there’s still a chance you can get away with avoiding that awkward interaction. Keeping to your side of the room and away from them is probably the best course of action, however it’s not always possible.
In the off-chance that you can’t avoid conversation, the best thing to do is stay calm, collected and composed. Be friendly and welcoming, but obviously don’t go as far as a hug or invite them to join your group. Forcing false friendliness can just lead to more awkwardness for both you, them, and the people around you. It probably won’t be the most easy-going conversation you’ve ever had, but it’s better than being rude and causing drama. And it’s the mature thing to do.
Be polite, but avoid asking questions - particularly open ended ones. In all likelihood you probably won’t know enough about their immediate life to be able to ask anything that has substance anyway. Keeping things brief and quick is the best way to manage an awkward meeting. Use greetings like “Hey, how’re things?” or “It’s lovely to see you - how’s things?” The latter one may be a slight white lie - most of the time you’ll be dreading seeing them - but it’s an easy way to indicate you’re not interested in a lengthy conversation.
If you have a bad history with the person, the most important thing is avoiding confrontation and drama. Sparking an upheaval of old issues will only end badly. Don’t let that person’s presence, or how they react, undermine your calm approach to the situation. Remaining resolute and remembering what you’re doing is important. How you handle the interaction will determine the outcome of both the conversation and your night out.
Just because you run into people you don’t like or get on with, especially ones you thought you’d left behind before university, doesn’t mean you can’t start fresh. In all likelihood you won’t run into people often, and probably not at all. Not letting your past experiences, and people you left behind, define your future is extremely important. At university, you’ll be finding yourself, making new friends and meeting people you have a lot more in common with. Putting yourself first is the most important thing.