Student life, in partnership with UEA
Edit: Ask what's their name, where they're from, and what course they study. That would be a good start and just avoids the awkward small talk.
Definitely try not to overthink this. It can seem like a pivotal conversation but really people just need a friendly face.
Try chatting about their course, where they are from, what accommodation are they in? If you have common ground then it will be easy to start a conversation from there, but if not ask them about it! Never heard of their hometown? Ask them what it is like there, where is their nearest city?
You could chat about upcoming events. Are they going to Fresher's Fair or is there anything they're looking to see or join there? Any worries you could chat about together. The more you chat, the more you will find common ground and it becomes quite natural.
After a week of small talk it is exhausting but it is worth it for the life long friends you make. Just remember, everyone is in the same boat so it is quite easy to get people talking!