We’ve all been in a situation that really makes us feel out of place, making you question your choices in the first place. University is definitely no exception. When I first started my course, I felt like a small fish in a ridiculously large pond, and it didn’t help much that almost right away people were arranging themselves into groups leaving me stranded.
But despite the first distressing thoughts of ‘i’ll never make any friends’ I managed to find a group of friends that are really amazing and provide a great support network, which i’m sure you will as well. So for those looking for ways to make friends, here are some tips I have picked up along the way!
1. Pre-university activities
Something I found to be really helpful were to look for activities held by the university before the term starts, as taking part in one of these not only allowed me to gain a feel for my surroundings and helped me to gain my first friends on campus as well as some really interesting people! Whichever university your based at there will always be something to help you settle into university, and it’s important to remember that even though they are mostly optional that they are set with students in mind.
Some examples of pre-university activities include open days, freshers fairs, and welcome days. I personally went to the freshers fair on my campus and a 3 day course about effective revision and wellbeing, and I found them to be beneficial. During these activities I found out a lot about what support services Swansea university offers, made a few friends, and helped greatly in finding my way around campus. So, why not give it a go?
2. Moving to university
Whilst I can understand that some people aren’t able to move to campus even though they may want to (I haven’t!), there are definitely some advantages if you do decide to take on the responsibility of living on campus away from the comforts of home.
The first of these advantages is, of course, flatmates! Accommodation on university campus’ are usually shared between a few people so you are bound to find someone to make friends with. However, there is also a good chance that you will get along with all of your flatmates so there will be plenty of people to hang out and spend your time with!
Living on campus also allows you to take full advantages of all other socials and activities going on within the university itself, which is what my next points are based on.
Something quite a lot of universities pride themselves on is their societies; a place for like-minded people to hang out, have fun, and go on trips together with. These societies can be anything from LGBT+, reading, and even fandoms such as the doctor who society. I even know of a Harry Potter society that regularly practices quidditch! Whatever your interests, there is bound to be a society for you where you can truly find a place of belonging whilst making friends and enjoying the university experience along the way.
For an example of societies a university might offer, take a look at this website: https://www.swansea-union.co.uk/activities/societies/join/
Photo Credit: MissionBox
Another aspect of university life you could take part in to build connections is volunteering. This may seem daunting for some as university is hard enough on it’s own, making you feel like you might struggle for time if you dare to do anything else other than studying, but believe me when I say this is not the case! Those of you who have already completed a part of your studies will understand what I mean, but for those of you who don’t I want to assure you that you honestly have more time to work on yourself and your connections than school or college could provide for you, especially as there can often be large gaps between lectures. Of course there are other options to fill your free time which is perfectly fine as well, but volunteering would give you the confidence to make friends who really help you to fulfil your potential while doing something nice for the community, so is there really any reason not to at least give it a try?
This last point may be the most obvious, but it is also the most important. Communication should be a key aspect in your university experience as without it you wouldn’t be able to ask about topics that stump you, express your opinions, or be able to make decisions. The reason why I put this last point here is because I understand the struggle of not being able to talk to people. The want to be able to talk to someone, say something nice to someone who may need it, or even bring up an opinion which is entirely valid even though it may contrast against those of someone else. These feelings can often be overwhelming, but I can promise you that it will be okay eventually. Just do your best, no one can ask more of you than that, and you will find the friends you deserve eventually.
That’s all for my five tips for making friends at university, and I really hope at least one will help you. Good luck everyone!