Panicked about making friends at uni? Here's some advice from other students
Whilst it’s easy to worry you’ll spend three years cooking pasta for one; going to bars alone and befriending the local wildlife on your campus for company, you'll likely be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to make friends at university.
It can feel intimidating leaving your comfort zone and your school friends behind, but uni is an amazing opportunity to meet all sorts of new people, and everyone there is in the same position as you – which certainly helps!
But how do you go about making new friends and meeting new people in the first place?
Before arriving at uni
Before you even step foot on uni soil, make sure you find your Freshers thread in the TSR forums, and join any Facebook groups for your halls or course. (If you search for the name of your halls or course plus the year you’ll be joining, you should be able to find something pretty easily!)
Once you’re in, make sure you introduce yourself to people and don’t be shy about reaching out to someone you click with – most people will be very happy to chat, and you’ll settle in much faster if you already know a few friendly faces.
When you’re packing for uni, it pays to be prepared! Make sure your suitcase includes a door stop – so you can leave your door open and meet your flatmates faster – a pack of cards or some mini board games, and maybe a pack of biscuits or a couple of spare beers to help ease the bonding process along…
Meeting people during Freshers Week
Freshers Week is a great opportunity to bond with your fellow students – you’ll all be in the same places; everyone will want to make friends, and it’s one of the only times in your life it’ll be totally normal to walk up to a stranger and introduce yourself.
As TSR member Pollyparrot23 says: “Use the shared experience of being lost and not knowing anyone as a talking point!”
This is also when your doorstop will come in handy. Prop your bedroom door open and make sure you pop out to welcome any late-arriving flatmates. Being the first person to suggest a trip to the pub or SU will always help too – and don’t be shy about suggesting a kitchen get-together before any Freshers Week events.
Hanging out in communal areas like the kitchen, common room or even the corridor will also maximise your chance of meeting new people. You can also sign-up for campus tours or library inductions – whilst they may not sound like a blast, grabbing every opportunity to meet other freshers will really help you in your first couple of weeks.
Also, make sure you join a society or two! Even if you don’t decide to join properly, signing up for the free taster sessions at the Freshers’ Fair will help you discover new interests and meet different groups of people – and you might just find your new BFF while you’re at it. As member Perksy121 says: “The general rule of Freshers Week is to join a load of societies and talk to everyone, then as the semester goes on the friendship groups form.”
Settling in to uni life
The first few weeks of uni can be a bit full-on, so don’t panic if you don’t take to uni life immediately or feel instantly ‘at home’ – this will come with time.
If you’re more introverted, it can also feel particularly exhausting spending so much time meeting new people and being sociable, so make sure to build some quiet time into your schedule to recharge your batteries.
Remember, there will be plenty of people feeling like you, and it may help to spend time with your new friends individually rather than throwing yourself into endless parties and gatherings if it’s all getting a bit much. As TSR user ljkobrien says: “There will always be people who don't want to be at the heart of things, but it doesn't mean you can't make friends. Most unis have loads of societies and groups so you can hang out with people who like the same things as you there.”
A lot of students also worry about their first lecture; finding the right place and walking into the lecture hall alone can feel a bit daunting, but this will be a great opportunity to start bonding with your course mates!
Arrive a bit early so you can chat to the other early birds before the lecture starts, and make sure you introduce yourself to the people sitting near you – most will be grateful for the company. You could also suggest swapping numbers or adding new friends on social media to share notes post-lecture, or grab some food in between your class breaks to get to know each other better.
How to make friends if you commute
If you’re not leaving your hometown or living in student accommodation, you might be concerned about how you’ll make friends. Sure, you won’t be thrown into the non-stop socialising that university accommodation brings, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to know new people or make new groups of friends.
UEA student Isabella tells us some of the great events her university puts on to help students meet and make new friends.
In between ice-breaker events, aim to get to know your course mates – why not suggest going for a coffee or a drink after a lecture, or suggest having lunch one day? It can really help having someone local who you can crash with if you miss the last train home after a night out, too. And don’t forget about those all-important societies either – those which focus on daytime meet-ups might be easier for you to fit in around your commute.
It’s especially important to be known as someone who will say yes to social events if you’re a commuter. Whilst it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of going to lectures and heading straight home afterwards, making yourself available to socialise will increase your chances of getting invited to more things in future. And if you need any further reassurance, member notespad offers some support: “It can seem a bit isolated at first, but you will find friends on your course who you click with, and then you'll get invited to hang out with them all the time!”
What if you don’t drink?
Maybe you’re not big on alcohol. Maybe you’re completely teetotal. Either way, refraining from the sauce won’t hold you back when it comes to making new friends. Nearly 30% of young people don’t drink, and there’s loads to do at uni that doesn’t involve alcohol. As member Lintu93 says: “On my floor, there's someone who doesn't drink at all; someone who's too young, and someone who hates nightclubs – and all three of them have just as many friends as everyone else.”
While drinking can be a big part of the student culture for some, you’ll find loads of other students who don’t drink. As long as you’re friendly, approachable and happy to get stuck in to the other activities on offer, it won’t matter one bit whether there’s any vodka in your lemonade.
Socialising outside of uni
It’s unlikely you won’t find anyone you click with at uni. But if you do find yourself struggling to vibe with other students, it’s worth looking outside of the university bubble for some new pals in your area.
A quick search of ‘Eventbrite’ or Facebook can reveal any ‘speed-friending’ events in your city - yep, just like speed-dating, but for new mates! Sites like ‘Meet-up’ are also great for mixing with people that have similar interests, or for trying out new hobbies with a friendly bunch of new people. From running clubs to open mic nights and volunteering, there's loads on offer to help get you out and about and meeting new people.
Got any tips of your own to share? Get involved in the discussion below.
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