May 24, 2024, by Lauren

Connect-ing with others at university

Whenever I heard the saying ‘humans are social creatures’, I used to think ‘Yeah… not me, though.’ But I realised connecting with others is really important to my wellbeing and has allowed me to make positive memories at university. Still, I’ve found it takes conscious effort to connect with others as an adult. You might have realised that it was easier to make friends at high school, simply because of being around the same thirty ish people all the time. Luckily UoN’s huge range of societies makes it easy to bond with people over shared interests, no matter how niche (you’ve seen the medieval combat society, right?). I’ll also talk you through some other ways to connect.

Here are my offerings 🙂

Organise a catch-up with friends

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘what friends?’, don’t worry. I’ll cover that one later. Anyway, the simplest advice I have is: if you have friends and you feel a bit lonely, go see your friends! Life gets busy and it’s easy to just interact in the groupchat but never arrange anything in person.

This year was my second year and I was still living in halls, with my friends all living in different houses. How could I know if they were free to hang out? Let me ask the audience… You got it! Just ask them if they’re free! I found it was better to arrange things a couple days in advance, since people weren’t as spontaneously available as they were in first year, when we lived in the same hall. But this means that instead of waiting till you feel lonely to make plans, you can look forward to hangouts you’ve scheduled.

My favourite easy hangouts are the cinema (usually the Arc in Beeston on Student Mondays), a library date, or just in our rooms.

Connect with new people!

Sometimes it’s tempting to avoid meeting new people because you’re not sure if you’d be friends or not. But it takes the pressure out of social interactions if I tell myself I don’t necessarily need to make a friend. Connecting with others is valuable, and you might learn interesting stuff by talking to people who are different to you. So, make a friend or just have a fun connection – there’s not much to lose by connecting with new people.

Where do you find new people, though?

Our campus is full of people, so how do you figure out which people to connect with?

Try societies

An obvious answer is through societies, because they provide a shared interest or identity to bond over and contain a great variety of people. I’d recommend looking into societies for your subject, hobbies, sports and interests. Don’t be intimidated and think you’re not good enough at the sport/hobby, or don’t know enough about the society’s topic. If you’re interested in it, that’s all you need. I’d never done anything theatre-related and literally ended up on the committee for the Nottingham New Theatre on campus after taking on backstage roles for a couple of plays. Now I have guaranteed connection with others all next year through going to meetings and helping people to put on plays.

No really, try societies

Ok, so maybe you’re not into societies. I like one-on-one interaction a lot more than group hangouts, so I’m with you there. But one last bonus about societies is that you can just turn up for long enough to make your friends, then dip back out again. For example, my friend went to the RPG gaming society until he’d found a group of friends to game with, and now they just game together.

Talk to people in your lectures

Not everyone in the lecture hall is going to be your sort of person, but again, just enjoy connecting. I quite like to sit in a different seat each time to see who I end up with, as if I’m putting the room on shuffle. It was a big thing for me to just talk to random people, but I actually made my best friends at university by doing this! Try to see it as a connection, not necessarily as searching for a certain kind of person. Think about friends you have who are a bit of a surprising match for you and remember that you might really get on with someone different to you.

Connect with yourself 🙂

I’ve done a few blogs on wellbeing now and I think the most crucial part is being kind to yourself. If you have a very critical internal voice, try asking yourself if you’d talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself. Like, if your friend’s shoelace came untied again, would you really tell them they’re Just A Bad, Bad Person Who Can’t Tie Shoes Tight Enough?

Also, it’s easy to feel like studying is the most important thing and any self-care wastes time that can be spent working. Yet my best work always happens when I’m connecting to myself and looking after myself. Have a little spa day, you know? Buy the little treat in the supermarket. Press the flower and keep it. Actually hang up your clothes instead of putting them on that chair.

Lastly, have a look at HealthyU’s Connect events

There’s a couple of events coming up that I think are really helpful for connecting. ChillChat is literally what it says on the tin, you chill and chat. The next one’s in the Atrium on Jubilee Campus on May 28th, 12-2pm. If you’re a University Park campus student and haven’t been to Jubilee yet, I suggest connecting with the absolutely epic nature vibe they have over there. In the water features, you can see little baby coot chicks and goslings swimming around, the library’s on water too. Then on May 29th, there’s an online workshop from 1:15-2:15pm all about managing anxiety and stress.

Happy connecting 🙂

Posted in #WeAreUoNLauren