The friends you make at university are the ones who you’ll stick with throughout your education journey and beyond. But, you do have to make them first. Some people aren’t phased by social situations and see it as an opportunity to bloom. Others may be daunted by it. Is making friends at university as hard as it seems on the surface?
Realistically, when you get to university making friends comes naturally. Before you even arrive you can join group chats and talk to people, which eases the nerves when first meeting. Your primary friend circle could be one of accommodation, course, society or a mix- it depends on the person. Stepping outside of your comfort zone just a little can give big rewards.
People are just as worried about meeting you, as you are meeting them.
What can I do before university to help my chances?
For university, Facebook is probably the only social media you’ll need. All universities use groups to communicate with their members. The ones you want to pay attention to are freshers groups. They’re literally designed to aid in making friends at university.
Before every new intake, a university will make a freshers page for new students to socialise online. For example, this is the Sheffield Freshers page. As you can see, lots of people make group chats by course and accommodation.
As hard as you may find it, joining these group chats and chatting to your future house or course mates is a great way to break the ice before meeting them in person. I was messaging some of my now best friends before we even moved into our accommodation, it’s a powerful tool.
What can I do on moving-in day?
Chances are you won’t really be meeting up with course friends on moving in day, and you’ll have yet to join any societies- so you’ll be focusing on your accommodation friends. Throughout the day, remember this- they are just as worried about meeting me as I am of them.
My first university flat was very large, 30+ people, but it all started with something quite small: One of my flat mates asked the chat if we wanted some tea in the kitchen. A small one-on-one chat led to a large group conversation as new people started to arrive and dip into the kitchen. After everyone realises everyone is a human being too, everyone got comfortable and we had a great time, especially during freshers events!
What about course mates?
Okay so you’ve had freshers week, and you’ve met your flat mates. Next is course mates- obviously, you don’t meet course mates in their accomodation, so the approach is different.
Personally, I approached an existing group of people I recognised from the group outside our first lecture and we talked about wild stuff we did during freshers and shared some stories.
During the lecture you can banter about the content or the lecturer and put each other at ease.
We have a large group chat for our 200+ course members, but we also have a very small group for the 12 members we’re most friendly with. This allows you to chat and organise things in much the same way as your accommodation, making later conversation easier.
These are some of the strongest bonds you’ll make- you’ll learn to appreciate the friendship when you’re in the library at 4am grinding out coursework with them!
What can societies offer?
For most people, societies are often secondary to accommodation and course mates, but for some they’re very important. People who share your interests can be hard to come across so a big group passionate enough to organise once a week can be a great source of friendship.
Generally, making friends in university through societies is easy- during freshers week, societies will have a big drive to take on new members. Simply attending a practice dodge ball session or a debating society meeting is normally enough to want to come back. Joining the Facebook pages for your society is also recommended, so you can stay up to date with their various sessions and socials.