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First Week Ice-Breakers Are the Actual Stressful Part of Uni

By Daniel Kwarcinski 

I like to think that I’m a relatively personable and outgoing person. Nothing special, but, you know – not overly weird socially (for the most part).

And yet, something awakens in me at the start of semester.

Ice-Breaker activities transform me – they transform me into a strange, anxious blob.

A bumbling shadow of the person I was before entering the room.

Someone who legitimately suffers an existential crisis in the few brief seconds he has to come up with a ‘fun fact’ about himself.

Fun fact?

It’s honestly sad when I have to resort to something like ‘my other degree is science.’

F**k, what a riot this guy must be! What a fun dude. Everyone else is travelling the world, volunteering for amazing causes or grinding through seemingly ideal internships.

And there I am – science degree guy. Nice.

I seriously sing praises when an ice-breaker goes swimmingly because I’ve had that many bad ones.

I thought I’d share one of my worst so you can either a) sympathise or b) cringe at me.

There I was in the first day of class for the semester. I knew it was coming.

This particular teacher was progressive with his icebreaker tactics. No going around the room telling fun facts, no turning to the person next to you.

No – he made us get in line from tallest to shortest.

So, I skipped my way to the tall end of the line, grinning ear to ear and revelling in the wondrous talent of my genes.

Alas, the ego boost was short lived when it was announced that it was time for a game – a game involving the tallest person in the room.


Chinese whispers.

He screams out – ‘tallest person, what’s the most important quality in a teammate? Pass it down!’

I panicked.

I panicked and freaked out and … well, as usual, did something stupid. Two things actually.

  1. I didn’t whisper. If anything, tbh, I spoke so loud that nearly everyone in the room heard it.
  2. I said ‘a really good listener.’

Oh, and it gets better.

When the whole class inevitably heard me and looked at me strangely, I felt the need to explain myself (why??!!)

‘Did you say teammate? Here I am describing a perfect lover’


And you know what the kicker was. It didn’t stop the game. After the forced pity laughter of one guy (who I will love forever), they actually played the game of Chinese whispers.

They passed on ‘really good listener’ all the way down the line. One by one by one.

It was so awkward it hurt.

When it got to the end, they announced the answer we all already knew, and we were quickly directed back to our seats.

We weren’t going to continue with any more icebreaker activities.

I nearly un-enrolled out of the class out of my own self-hatred.

I guess I have a certain bias towards ice-breaker activities, but despite my apparent disdain I genuinely do think they’re useful.

They truly do break the ice, and at the very least – you get to put a name to a face.

Moreover, particularly of use in my law degree, they encourage confidence and sociability.

Strong introductions and, you know, genuinely being a cool, friendly person gets you a surprisingly long way in life.

So don’t be hateful of the icebreakers, use them as practice and remember that it’s only a brief few seconds of your whole life anyway.

Good luck and take care!


PS: Low key plug (marketing is expensive and I’m broke) – I made a social app for uni students you can download here:

I also write similar stuff to this article on my blog:  https://thecorpuscolumn.com/


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