Welcome back fellow students and salutations to all incoming cohorts. All is a bustle in our city of orange. Excitement is in the air: coffee is being brewed, textbooks are in the mail, people are settling in and then getting out to party, reconnect and meet that "new-new." During the fall, an explosion of new faces arrive and a typical night includes more than a dozen handshakes. They are the conception of a new relationship; nearly all greetings, both male and female, begin with a handshake and the introduction of names. This ritual dates back to 5th century B.C. when soldiers used to grasp one another's forearms to confirm they concealed no weapons up their sleeves and consequently create a friendly environment for interacting.

The modern handshake has become widespread only in the last hundred years, starting in the 19th century when palm-to-palm handshakes sealed business transactions between men of equivalent status. Even in the last 50 years this process has transformed radically. Handshakes are now the globally acceptable medium for greeting and departing in all business settings – and increasingly in social events – by both men and women.A night out in Knoxvegas will confirm this modern-world tradition. Because the handshake is so popular and practically engaged by all, shaking someone's hand reflects their personality in a simple, yet complex action. Timid and forceful personas are the easiest to identify.

The finger grasp and limp shake describe a shyer type who is lacking confidence and attempting to keep a greater distance from you. A bone-crushing handshake, however, stresses a dominant, aggressive personality. More ordinary handshakes hold within them discreet clues into the personality behind the outstretched arm. When you shake someone's hand, it is natural for one party to position their hand over the others. In the most dramatic scenario, one palm would be completely facing down, while the other hand faces up.

The hand that lies on top demonstrates total control and power over the palm up hand.The one on top is either a naturally dominant person or one who believes he or she can dominate you. According to the Definitive Book of Body Language, only 31 percent of women will initiate this type of handshakes. The submissive handshake is one that does the exact opposite by facing up, allowing your hand to dominate them. This could be a personality trait or subtle reminder of their femininity or their willingness to be dominated by you. Equality is created when both party's hands stay in the middle with no one's palm leaning over the other and equal grip strength. If you normally have a firm grip and you squeeze the hand of a weaker grip, back off a little in order to create equality. Keep in mind, gentlemen, that males can grip twice as hard as women, so take this into account if you're attempting to create equality. And ladies, studies show that women who initiate a firm handshake are considered more open-minded and make better first impressions.

Now, let's step outside of Knoxville and even America and note the cultural differences that you might encounter studying abroad during your career at UT.

In Germany, they pump their hands only two or three times, much less than the American average of five to seven. Muslim countries have yet to bring women into this greeting and a customary head-nod is preferred, but in Switzerland, it may be expected for the women's hand to be shaken first. In the Middle East, China and Japan, a strong handshake is considered to be rude, so weak handshakes are preferred. Finally, the French win first place in quantity of handshaking, spending a considerable time each day shaking hands: during meetings, departures, all social gatherings and even with children.

If I see you around Knoxville or abroad, my name is Julie and I cannot wait to meet you. And yes, I might over-analyze your handshake, no pressure. Good luck out there. The power is in your hands.

Julie Mrozinski is a junior in English. She can be reached at jmrozins@utk.edu.