Breaking the Ice with Communal Jigsaw Puzzles

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Jordan Little
A person’s hand holding a Monopoly-themed 1,000 piece puzzle.

Living on your own can be a daunting task. I grew up with two younger siblings for the majority of my life. I always had someone with which to talk, joke around, or to grab a bite to eat. I always had those constants in my household. That all changed when I started college. After I finished unpacking the last of my moving boxes in my freshman dorm, I remembered walking my family back to their car and watching them drive off as I stood alone in the parking lot.

Busting the Boredom

I went to bed in my quiet room and woke up the next day alone in search of something to do. My eyes darted around the room and landed on an unopened puzzle box sitting on my shelf. The desk in my dorm room was far too small to complete the puzzle on, so I headed into the dorm common area and started working there.

Gaining Attention

When I first started the puzzle, I was prepared to spend the afternoon alone until I grabbed dinner from the dining hall. That wasn’t the case at all, though. Not only was the common area located next to the only trash shoot on the floor, but many people were exploring the different areas of the dorm before classes started up the following week. As people would walk by, I would wave hello while sorting through pieces.

Puzzling Passersby

The sight of a gigantic puzzle would often draw people closer and lead them to ask me what I’m working on and how far I’ve gotten. After answering them, I would always offer if they wanted to grab a seat and help work through the puzzle. More and more people would walk by the common area and more and more people would grab a seat or come back later just to work on a puzzle.

After a few days of doing different puzzles, I got to talk with a wide range of people in my dorm. I continued hanging out with them in the common room, even if we weren’t working on a puzzle. What started as a simple way to pass time led to me meeting so many amazing friends that I still talk to and love hanging out with. If loneliness, boredom, mingling, or adjusting to college life are getting you down, start a common area activity that could build community and spark conversation.

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