August 31, 2019, by Anjni

Making Friends at University

So we’re almost into September now and with our summer daze all but ending, the countdown to the start of the new academic year has begun! It’s all VERY exciting, but as the prospect of university edges nearer and nearer, the thought of preparing for it can seem daunting since it brings up a whole myriad of concerns, both academic and social. Now, with academia we can research, read and study the ways in which to prosper, but with the social side of things it’s less easy to gauge a one-way-fits-all solution, and so the idea of socialising and making friends at university can seem difficult. But I’m here to share with you my experiences and reassure you that it isn’t nearly half as scary as it seems.

Three years ago, I was contemplating just this: how am I going to make any friends? In the time leading up to my first day here at university, I was a bag full of emotions. And whilst I was excited to embark on this journey, to learn and experience new things, I was also nervous, unsure and downright PETRIFIED at the thought of having to make new friends and settle in. Growing up, I had always been shy and introverted – and still am – so being able to put myself out there and forming connections and friendships when I arrived at university was a big challenge for me, but it wasn’t nearly as horribly difficult as I had imagined it would be.

For one, I found very quickly that a lot of people felt this way about coming to uni, about having to forge relationships and make new friends. Everyone was nervous and almost everyone shared in the same fear: will I be walking around campus alone for the next three years? So everyone (for the most part at least) was in the same boat, and whether or not they were introverted, extroverted or anything in between, many incoming students felt the same way and didn’t have a pre-made network of friends to fall back on when they arrived (like you might have thought they would).

Because of this, it was far easier to interact, to mix and mingle because everyone wanted to establish a network of friends, so approaching and meeting people – particularly during Welcome Week – wasn’t hard at all. In fact, there’s PLENTY of opportunity to meet people at UoN and the Student’s Union make it super easy because they organise SO many things for you to do and get involved in from the very moment you arrive! For example:

Introduction to Societies & Sports

During Welcome Week, you’ll be introduced to a variety of societies, sports and volunteering activities within the first two days through the Student’s Union. Various societies will set up stalls (usually in David Ross/Portland) and invite you to meet and greets where you’ll meet other people and get to know more about the society. I would definitely recommend going to these, of course you don’t have to be a member of EVERY society; in fact, you may go to these and realise that the society isn’t for you and that’s okay, but it’s still a great way to meet people, and I forged most of my friendships in this way. Societies also allow you to get more involved and offer roles like “sub-committee” or “first year rep” which also allow you to meet and interact with even MORE people. But above all, I found that being part of a society, whether it be as a regular member or committee member, really gave me a sense of belonging and helped provide a sense of community, and this was really comforting, and it actually allowed me to make friends far easier than I had thought I would.

Hall/Accommodation Events & Activities

So not only will the Student’s Union organise tonnes of events, but your halls of residence will also do the same, allowing you to mix and mingle with other students without even leaving your immediate complex! In my first year, I stayed at Broadgate Park and they did tonnes of stuff throughout the year: barbeques, termly balls, a summer fair, along with regular day to day activities like dance classes. Other halls also offer things like formal dinners and external balls, but this will differ accommodation to accommodation, but regardless of where you are housed, you can expect to have loads of opportunities to meet people and get to know your hallmates and make friends from the first day you settle into you room and indeed your hall as a community.

Course Lectures & Seminars

The final and probably most obvious way to meet people is through the academic side of things: through your course. During lectures, seminars and tutor you’ll meet the people with whom you shall spend the next three years and hopefully graduate with.  It can seem scary though – walking into lecture halls in the first week without having anyone to sit next to; I remember I was terrified. But the room will only hold so many seats, so someone is bound to sit next to you, all you have to then is strike up conversation (but okay, so if you’re anything like me, that’s equally as scary!). BUT, people are SUPER friendly, and if you’re ever stuck for topics, you can always begin with asking about their interest in the course, or what halls they’re living in, how they’re finding their first week, and once you start talking, the initial nerves will dissipate as they begin responding. So don’t fret too much about it, chances are they’re probably a little nervous too!

You may also find that some of your modules will overlap with students from other courses, and so you’ll also be able to meet people taking various other degrees too. For example, in my first year a lot of my modules were taken with the whole of the Life Sciences Department, and so lecture halls were always full and there was always someone new to chat to, and so the opportunity for making friends exists even within the academic sphere of university life.

I know just how horribly overwhelming it can all seem going away to university. Juggling everything, settling in and making friends can be tough, and the huge level of displacement on top of that can really act to throw you if you let it. But I’m here to tell you that it’s absolutely normal to feel a little nervous, even about something as small as making friends. And you know what, everyone is in the same boat and chances are, they’re just as worried as you about forging friendships and finding their crowd. So if you can, put yourself out there a little, so go to events, join a society, mix with your hall-mates, your course mates, and eventually I PROMISE you’ll find your place. I hope you’re excited to embark on this journey, and I wish you the very best of luck on you journey throughout university!

Posted in Anjni