Small talk can be arranged in different ways, environments, and by people. An example I can refer to is talking with someone who I met through/during class and someone who I work with. There are times and places when to talk in these environments.
During class, usually, I feel like it tends to be more quiet. Besides stating the obvious of being in a classroom environment, I personally just do not want to waste my time talking in class. I go to class to learn and take in everything I can. I take notes in class and ask questions so I do not want to waste my time talking to whoever is sitting next to me. However, if I am doing a group assignment or project then that is when I usually ask questions or try to get to know that person. If I am in class, I usually expect them to be a Kinesiology major if it is an upper division class. Proceeding to keep a conversation going, I like asking what they want to do with it and why they got to where they are right now. I always tend to ask people how their day is going on a regular basis so I think that is always considered small talk.
When I am at work, it is a little different because I am surrounded by people who I know. There are usually people getting hired every couple of months/semester because people graduate, find new jobs, or get fired for not taking their job seriously. Since I am a sophomore this year, I pretty much know everyone I work with. When I am at work I usually ask how people’s days are going, what classes they are taking, what they are doing for the weekend, how is school going, anything new going on. It is usually pretty broad unless someone likes to go to the gym, then there are more things to talk about/joke with. I only talk to a small portion of people from work who I trust talking about relationships, family, school, and what is planned in the future.
These are both similar because they consist of questions to keep a conversation going, but also it shows that I try and make an effort to someone who tries to do the same with me.