So, you’re off to university and a little bit anxious about making friends and fitting in
That’s perfectly normal, especially if you are leaving home and moving on to pastures new for the first time, leaving all of your childhood friends in the process. Don’t forget though, some of those childhood friends are probably in the same boat as you!
University is often recalled, by those of us old enough to know, as the best years of our lives. If you’re worried about making friends and fitting in then here are some tips to help you feel a bit better about your big move:
Be friendly and approach your neighbours
Living in halls at university means you'll meet plenty of new people the moment you move in since they are likely to be carrying their big bags in at the same time! Our advice is don’t hesitate to say hi and strike up a conversation - there’s nothing like a friendly face to settle the nerves. Be the proactive one and make an effort. Many people meet their best friends in halls, so don't be shy - your new best friend could be right there next door to you!
Strike up a random conversation
Start how you mean to go on and be equally as friendly with people in your tutorials, seminars, and lectures - these are all great places to meet new friends, and anyway, you’re on the same course so you have something massive in common! Having friends on your course is also massively beneficial when tackling work that you find difficult, or if you miss a lecture/seminar since they can help you achieve or catch up with anything you’ve missed.
Don’t stop there though - anyone at university is worth striking up conversations with. In the canteen, on different campuses, in the cafes, shops and bars; don’t be afraid to be a bit extroverted - those that make an effort early on are often appreciated.
Make an effort to hang in out communal spaces
Having said all that, you should make an effort to hang out in communal spaces such as your university hall kitchen or faculty building common room, or the coffee shops on campus, university library, bars and outdoor social areas. Staying cooped up in your room or only venturing out in the dead of night won’t do your social life any good!
Be the one that invites people to do things
There’s no use waiting for someone to come and knock on your door when you first arrive at university. We’re not saying that won’t happen, because it probably will, but if it doesn’t you’re going to be left feeling isolated. Ask people to go get coffee, study together, go to online events, come to your room for a chat or even walk to class together. Friendships often just take that one act of kindness or thoughtfulness to spark - and again, you may be making a friend for life!
If there are faculty activities happening, go!
When your course begins you’ll find that most faculties will host special events for freshers, offering you the opportunity to meet fellow students and staff, and mix with students that have been at uni for a while. These events are fantastic opportunities to network and get yourself ahead in terms of course, campus and city knowledge. Advice from older students will really come in handy when all your work starts piling in.
Make sure you join online groups for freshers
One of the things you must do when you arrive at university, or even before you go, is sign up to online groups for freshers. There will almost certainly be a variety of online groups on Facebook that you can join, probably ranging from as generic as “freshers” to more specific societies (like “football”, “chess”, “guitar players” or “magazine”) or faculties. These groups will post activities and events that you’ll be able to join, and help you plan some social networking time when you arrive. By all means connect with the right people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter amongst other platforms, send messages to strike up conversations and try to build a rapport before you even arrive. Hell, just go for it and try out freshers activities usually out of your comfort zone - things you’ve never done before, whether it be climbing, skiing, reading group, cooking etc. It’s a great chance for you to bond with the people you’ve just met.
Put your name down for clubs and societies
Your university is bound to have hundreds of different clubs and societies to choose from - and not just things you are used to doing either, whether that be singing, or playing a sport. We’d be surprised if there wasn’t one to cater for your interests, and joining clubs and societies is a great way to meet people who you may well connect with. Freshers week is a time when free taster sessions are offered to try and entice you to join - take full advantage of this and give yourself a chance to work out if you’re going to enjoy yourself or not. Also, be sure to attend the societies fair or check out the Union website to find your ideal societies.
Keep an open mind
University is a unique time in the life of a student. Your life will constantly evolve, and therefore the friends you make in freshers week might not end up being the solid friends that last a lifetime. Make sure you have a variety of friends from all different parts of your university life. It's always great to have other friends to depend on, and it’ll mean you inevitably have a much more productive and interesting time!
Once again, remember everyone is in the same boat so be confident, friendly and try to say YES!