How to Make Friends at Uni
How to make friends at Uni when you feel shy. The forum mooks share their lovely advice based on personal experience.
It may be your first year at Uni and you’re trying to figure out how to make acquaintances that will then turn into friends. Maybe you’ve just started term for your second year, and you’re reviewing how your first year went. Did you make any friends out of those acquaintances in the first year? Are you wondering how to make your second year more sociable than your first?
Your first term in your first year at university is in many ways exciting, but most new students feel anxious, homesick, really self-conscious and torn between wanting to make new friends and wanting to retreat into a safe cave. If you’re a shy type, you may feel intimidated at the thought of engaging with new people, and it’s not easy. Here are some things to consider.
If you want to get to know the other people on your course a little better, try chatting to them in seminars or inviting them out for a cup of tea between lecture breaks. It takes a lot of guts to do at first, but once you’ve made that first step it gets so much easier. The worst thing someone can do is say no, and they’re unlikely to be horrible enough to do so.
Sign up for any societies you find interesting, and consider doing it sooner rather than later. That first bold step will help to set gentle things in motion for the rest of your time at Uni. The introductory sessions are usually full of people who have come on their own and are very scared, so a lot of you will be in the same boat. There are usually activities planned to get everyone chatting, so you’ll probably leave with several new people to add on Facebook or text about future society meetings.
It’s important to remember that as much as you put yourself out there, not everyone is going to want to be your friend. Of course, there are going to be lots of people with whom you don’t want to be friends, due to lack of common interests and what-have-you, and that is just fine.
If you have made some acquaintances, enough to say hello to in seminars and you’ve been for coffee with them once or twice, it may be a case of taking the extra time and effort to ask if they’ve seen any good films lately, or what kind of music or books they are into (e.g. “I’ve just finished a really good book and I’m stuck on what to read next. Any suggestions?”) and letting conversations progress from there. The more common interests you explore, and the more experiences you share, even if they’re tiny little ones, the easier it is to form friendships.
It’s worth considering your housemates, if you are sharing a house rather than being in halls. It’s great when you get on with your housemates because you can all support and entertain each other. If you don’t get on, a natural response is to not want to leave your room, but it will help your overall self-esteem if you try to make friends with people from societies, from your course and from other houses. Who knows? This year’s nice acquaintance could turn into next year’s wonderful housemate.
Don’t worry if you often feel self-conscious or self-critical. That is really understandable. Some days you’ll say yes to that offer of tea or the pub, and it’s fine. Some days you’ll want to decline for fear of being troublesome, or worry that you’re no good at small talk. Making friends isn’t a military mission with strategies and conditions of success. It happens in its own time.
Don’t worry if you don’t make friends straight away. You may make friends with people on your course in the first year. It might not happen till your second year. That’s perfectly okay.
Finally… if it doesn’t work, if you go to the societies and talk to people from the courses and go to the parties and you still don’t make friends, don’t put all the blame on yourself. Everyone is very, very different.
Some people flourish best with a big social network. Some people find the nurturing of a few close friends more rewarding. Sometimes, no matter how many cups of tea you make and conversations you start, you will be separated from the others by a wide gulf, perhaps due to one vital interest that you don’t share (e.g. your potential friends don’t want to accept you because you would rather not go clubbing on a weekly basis). That’s that’s not your fault. You are under no obligation to entirely change yourself, or to do the one thing you genuinely don’t want to do, just to fit in. Ultimately, friendships are more rewarding if they are relaxing, fun and make you want to be the best version of yourself, not the best version of someone completely different.
We hope you make some lovely friends in your first year at uni. You deserve it.