When you start University, whether that be first year undergraduate or postgraduate, it can be easy to forget that halls, or wherever you’re living, isn’t the be-all-end-all of your time at university and sometimes, you just don’t get along with your flatmates. This can feel like a bit of a let-down. After all, you came to university to get a great degree, but also to make friends and have a laugh at the same time.
It really isn’t the end of the world, however, if you don’t get along with your flatmates. University is a huge place, and there are lots of ways to make new friends – don’t be disheartened because you don’t hang out with the people a computer assigned you to live with!
There are over 350 societies at the SU, covering almost every activity you can imagine (and yes, that includes both belly dancing and bell ringing). University is an ideal time to try out something new, or to continue with one of your hobbies from school. There really is a society to suit everyone, no matter how niche your interest and societies are therefore a great way to meet like-minded individuals who share your passions.
The start of the academic year is the perfect time to go along to a few different societies to see which one suits you before signing up – though if you miss any starter events, all societies are open to new members for the entire year. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t panic, you can even start your own society!
Joining a sports club gives you the chance to play in a team and so many people at University meet their friends in training sessions. As with societies, most sports teams offer taster sessions to give you a better idea of what to expect. Sports are a great way to get involved, stay fit and active, and have a laugh along the way.
Not everybody loves competitive team sports and that’s okay! Fitness classes are also a great way to meet like-minded people. Why not give yoga or Zumba a try? There’s always plenty of people willing to laugh with you about their terrible dancing!
Sure, sometimes your seminar material might not be very effective at keeping you awake, but the discussions you have in seminars, as well as lectures, gives you the opportunity to chat to your course mates. Bonding over your love (or hate) of a certain topic is an easy conversation starter, and you never know how much you might have in common with someone you sit next to on your course.
If you want to make friends, help your local community, and fundraise at the same time, there’s no better way than volunteering. There’s lots of opportunities to get stuck in, whether that’s individual volunteer days or weekly volunteering at a local charity, you’ll find something that suits you and hopefully make a few friends along the way!
The Student’s Union launched the Buddy Scheme in late 2020 to support students who struggled with feelings of loneliness and isolation during Covid-19. The scheme has since helped hundreds of students find a buddy to have weekly catchups or in-person hang-outs. You will be matched with another student (a ‘peer buddy’) based on your hobbies, interests or even course so that you’ll meet like-minded people and hopefully make a friend for life!
Why not sign up here. You might even wish to sign up to become a volunteer for the scheme after carrying out some training. The SU also organises several events throughout the year including speed friending and movie nights, which you can attend to meet new people.
Keeping in touch with old friends
Whilst you may be focusing a lot of your time and energy on seeking out new friendships, which is a great thing to do in a new city, if you’re feeling lonely or having a hard time don’t forget about those friends you already have! Do your best to maintain these relationships, at least the ones that matter to you, as some life-long friends just can’t be replaced. Whether that be by organising virtual catchups via FaceTime or Zoom, arranging to travel to see one another, or creating group chats to discuss your week, you’ll soon remember the good times you had with these people and continue to create more memories together.
Most importantly, take the pressure off yourself. Everyone leads extremely busy lives, especially those starting University for the first time. Despite having so many communication options, it can still be hard to keep in touch. If you do not hear from someone for a few days, do not worry! Take the pressure off and just arrange a catch-up at a mutually convenient time. We all have friends that we don’t see for years but when we meet up it is like we were never apart.
It is important that you find your own balance whilst at University of maintaining relationships and allowing yourself time to grow as an individual. Cultivating friendships, and maintaining them, may seem daunting but sometimes the best way to meet new people is by not trying too hard – if you’ve got a friendly and welcoming persona, it is more than likely that people will flock to you in time.