When it comes to the challenge of making friends, there are three main options: coursemates, housemates, and the big one – societies.
Housemates come down to potluck. You might be thrown in with the best people in the whole city, or the worst. For what its worth, you should try your best to get along with them – check out this article for some advice on bonding with yours!
Coursemates are more numerous, flexible, and you’ll already have the advantage of having a degree in common. Additionally, having like-minded people around who are facing the same academic challenges as you is extremely helpful when it comes to navigating tricky things like group projects or difficult assignments, and offering each other advice is a good way to bond.
But of course, societies are the goldmine. Not only will their people share your interests, but they offer structured opportunities for meeting people, such as discussions, social events, pub crawls, and lots of others. Search the Students’ Union website for a society that might fit you.
For some people – debate fanatics, sports fans, athletes and academics – this is a natural choice. Manchester offers many extremely popular societies for things like sport, technology or engineering with a myriad of social events held throughout the year. These are great for meeting like-minded people – but what if you don’t like the pub? What if sport doesn’t appeal? That pushes societies off the table when it comes to making friends, right?
Not so fast. Societies have a bit of a reputation for being hubs of chatter, where extroverts gather and alcohol flows, and many of them are. These events can be brilliant for meeting new people, but a fast-paced, buzzing room is some people’s idea of a nightmare. For the more introverted among us, there are still options. You don’t need to be good at sports or have a penchant for nightlife to meet people who share your interests.
Here’s a question: which of the following is a real University of Manchester society?
- Bellydancing society
- Barbershop singing group
- Platypus society
- Garlic appreciation society
What do you reckon? Which one is waaaay too niche to be a full-blown society?
As you might have guessed, it was a trick question: they’re all real societies, just four of the four HUNDRED that the University of Manchester plays home to. There are even societies for special interests, which are friendly and welcoming to neurodivergent people and will always have a space for your passions or special interest, no matter how obscure. Culture and faith groups number well over fifty and put on events celebrating cultures and traditions from all over the world. Campus is rich with activism, volunteering and fundraising opportunities, as well as lifestyle groups such as the Sustainability society, which is a great hub to share ideas and organises events throughout the year.
Where to begin? Well, to catch a friend, you’ve got to think like a friend. So, what’s your friend like?
Do they like nights on the town, or a quieter Friday evening? Are they as passionate as you about knitting, or physics, or Dungeons and Dragons? Do they spend late nights in the library and have a bucket list of takeaways to try?
Despite what social media or movies might try to tell you, there is no one way to build a relationship, be it romantic, professional, or platonic. Coming to university with a strict set of ideas about how you’ll relate to people is a sure-fire way to find disappointment, as people so rarely conform to expectations. If you shed your pre-conceptions, you’ll find yourself amongst a new set of individuals, the likes of whom you didn’t even know existed. I’m well aware of the shortcomings of anecdotal evidence, but without scientific proof, all I can tell you is this: I’ve seen it happen. It’s happened to me. I can tell you from experience that no one is beyond finding a friend in this city, this uni.
So, where do the people you want to know hang out? Go there. You’ll find them