Making Friends at University (Even if You’re Shy)

Guest blogger, Communications Intern and recent Alumni, Mary, talks through a few of the ways to make friends at university.

As a Communications Intern, it’s my job to travel the UK and speak to prospective students about what it’s like to transition into university life. One of the most common themes I notice during these conversations is an underlying sense of worry about starting over in an unfamiliar environment. About forming new connections. Whether it’s said outright or not, people find the idea of making new friends daunting.

And I get it, completely. In fact, I’d be more surprised if you WEREN’T nervous. Just a few years ago I was feeling the exact same way. Not only am I unbelievably shy around new people, but I was a transfer student joining a course cohort in its second year. The idea of walking into a lecture hall full of people who had already built those relationships with one another twisted my stomach into knots. But take comfort in the fact that I made it through, and so will you. I’m going to be sharing some top tips for making friends at university – even if you’re shy. Let’s get started.

Connecting Online

The rise of social networking means it’s easier than ever to connect with others, and the good news is that you can get going before you even step foot on campus. Universities will have dedicated social spaces online for you to interact with prior to the start of the academic year. Most universities will also have dedicated Facebook groups to help new students find others who will be living in their accommodation or studying the same course as them. This is such a great way to get to know your new peers before you meet face-to-face, organise meetups during the Welcome Festival, and coordinate who’s bringing what (trust me – no student kitchen has room for 6 kettles).

TOP TIP: beware of fake Facebook groups. They are typically not run by the university or its students and are likely to lead to spam messages. Stay safe online!

Get to Know Your Flatmates

If you’re living in student accommodation, some of the first people you’ll encounter at university will be your new flatmates. As a former commuter, I’ve consulted with some of my halls-living friends to get their advice on how to bond with your new neighbours quickly. By far the most popular suggestion was to invest in a wedge and leave your door open as much as you can. This will invite others to come in and introduce themselves. Another frequent recommendation was to explore your new surroundings together. Go for a tour of the campuses, walk to the local supermarket and shop as a group, check out all the different welcome events happening around the university. Before you know it, you’ll become a second family to one another.

Take Advantage of Your Course Induction

Never underestimate the usefulness of your course induction. Not only will you be able to meet your new lecturers and get a feel for what to expect from your modules, but they are a great way to socialise. My induction was my very first opportunity to interact with other students at Worcester. In fact, it was where I made my first friend, who is still stuck with me to this very day. Inductions will be informal and are designed to be as non-awkward as possible. Plus (at least, in my experience), they almost always involve food, which is never not a bonus. It can be daunting to put yourself out there and approach people at these events, but there are two very important things to remember:

1. Your course mates are in the exact same boat as you are and are probably just as eager to make connections. And even if you’re like me, and they AREN’T in the same boat as you, I’ve rarely met a student not looking to make a new friend

2. You’ve both decided to study the same course, which gives you at least one thing you already have in common. I began my first conversation at Worcester by asking someone why they had decided to study literature, and it led to us realising we both loved tons of the same books.

Maximise your Friend-Making opportunities by joining a society

It goes without saying, of course, that one of the best ways to form new friendships is by seeking out people who share your passions. In fact, most of the friends I made during my time at university were people who I connected with through societies. There are over 70 sports and societies available for students to get involved with at Worcester (a full list can be found here), so there’s likely to be something for everyone. Think something’s missing? Students are also able to apply to create their own societies. Most sports and societies offer commitment-free taster sessions you can come along to before signing up, so never be afraid of trying something new. Societies are super welcoming to beginners, so don’t feel put off if there’s an activity you’re interested in that you have no prior experience with!

Moving to university and ‘starting over’ is undeniably an intimidating experience. But it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime one. Opportunities to meet new people and make meaningful connections can be found around every corner. Despite my initial anxieties, the people that I met during my time at Worcester have become lifelong friends.  And I have a very good feeling that the same is going to happen for you, too