Starting university can be a very daunting time; leaving home and moving into a new room, potentially moving to a new city and starting to study a difficult topic. On top of this, many new students worry about the prospect of leaving school friends behind and starting to make new acquaintances. Meeting new people can often seem daunting which can lead to feelings of isolation and contribute to high rates of depression in university settings.
If you are shy or you worry about striking up conversations with new people it can feel even more intimidating. Remember though: other students joining university are just as keen as you to meet new people and create new friendships and are in the exact same boat. Making new acquaintances can often be straightforward then and meeting new people can be done in many different ways. If you haven’t met anyone new since school, this is a great opportunity as learning to make new friends is a valuable skill to have in life.
Plan Where to Meet People
The first step in making new acquaintances is planning where to meet them. Around the university campus it is possible to meet new people in many situations, such as your halls, your classes, your Student Union or in societies. Your classmates may be able to introduce you to new people you may enjoy getting to know. Once you have planned where to meet new friends you will be able to devote time to your social life in an effective way.
Note that some friendships will occur out of ‘convenience’. People on your course or in your halls may not necessarily share that much in common with you, which is a good reason to try societies and clubs too.
Spend Time Together
A great way to meet good friends is to increase the amount of time that you spend with the people you interact with. A student who attends lectures and leaves immediately afterwards is less likely to get to know them than the one who stays behind at the end. Likewise hanging out with your hall mates in the kitchen is a good way to get to know them, so put on the kettle and ask if anyone wants one. If you are able to, devote more time to other people and getting to know them; it will increase your chances of making new friends in the long run. Friends beget friends too as new contacts will introduce you to their wider network.
Strike Up a Conversation
It can feel daunting to start a conversation with someone you do not normally talk to, especially if that person is a stranger or someone that you don’t know well. However you’ll find that students are normally very keen to meet new people and make new acquaintances; they will enjoy getting to know you. If you are a nervous type, think of conversation openers in advance so that you can guide the conversation. Learning to talk to new people is a good skill to pick up, both for university and for later life. As you talk to more people you will find that your confidence increases and your social circle grows.
Useful topics in Uni include asking about the course they’re studying, where they come from or whether they belong to any of the societies. And you know another good one? Just asking if they had a good day.
It’s also important not to be afraid to talk about yourself. Often we worry about coming off as a bore by talking too much about our own experiences and interests but actually this is a good way to put the other person at ease (they’re probably nervous too) and to increase your chances of finding something you have in common. Give them the chance to talk but don’t be afraid to talk about your own day if necessary.
Opening up to someone is a good way to establish trust and to get them in turn to open up to you. Tell the person you’re talking to how you’re struggling with your course and you’ll likely develop a much deeper connection than just talking about the weather. Likewise, give them the opportunity to open up to you by asking deeper questions – such as those regarding their love life. This is how you make an acquaintance into a real friend.
University is a great place for impromptu nights out or nights in but many people are shy to attend these. Do not be afraid of accepting an invitation from a new acquaintance. Joining a new friend in a situation new to you can feel awkward but sharing quality time with new people is the best way to get to know them well. Often the best nights out come from unexpected situations and in the worst case scenario you can just go home. Your friend might also be able to introduce you to new people who you haven’t met while the shared awkwardness will make the two of you closer together. Declining an invitation may be disappointing for your friend and may mean that you are missing out on an experience that is bonding and exciting.
Organize an Event
And you don’t have to wait for invites either. Likewise, organizing an event is a great way to get to know one or many friends at once so why not have a party at your hall? Or you could invite a hall mate to share a lunch with you or a classmate to study with you. Or arrange a night out for your society friends. Events are a fun way to bring new people together and will ensure that everyone is keen to get to know you. Your new acquaintance will be flattered that you invited them and are interested in spending quality time with them. You can even set up your own societies if you can’t find one that caters to your interests!
Keep in Touch
Once you have made a new acquaintance make sure that you stay in touch with them. Friendships can be easy to make but need effort to maintain. Taking the time to stay in touch with your new friend will help to ensure that your relationship does not wane after a short period of time. Adding new friends to social media is a great way to stay in touch or messaging them via text or email. You may even wish to arrange a weekly catch up to spend time together – perhaps by going to the gym or just meeting for a coffee after a shared lecture. Regularity will help you to become more familiar with each other to get over that initial awkward phase.