We all know the number one scariest thing about starting university is the thought of having to make friends. The last time you were in this situation you were starting school aged five, and we all know offering someone the purple crayon isn’t going to help you find your best friend like it did then. Despite what you might think, making friends at university is often way easier than you imagine, even if you don’t make friends in the places you would expect.
It’s all about being open to new opportunities, putting yourself out there and, if all else fails, buying someone’s friendship with pizza. Follow these top tips and you’ll find your uni BFFs in no time at all.
Food is the way to the heart
If there’s no better way to start making friends than by buying their affection with food. Seriously though, if you’re sat in the kitchen eating some pizza, offer the girl next door a slice. Pass round that bag of Malteasers your mum left you. Organise a flat meal, or a movie and popcorn night.
Food brings people together and will help you feel much more relaxed around your new housemates, so stick the oven on and get sharing. Side note: The Great British Bake Off is the perfect flat bonding activity. Set aside some time to watch it every week, bond over your merciless critique of the contestants’ baking endeavours, and maybe even attempt to make your own lion bread. Friendships for life are forged on soggy bottoms.
Keep your door open (literally and metaphorically)
It’s your first day at university, you’ve finished unpacking all your stuff, shooed your parents out the door and now you’re sat on your bed not quite sure what to do with yourself. There’s no point in hiding away in your room, so prop your door open and invite in your new flatmates as they arrive. Keeping your door open will show that you’re friendly and sociable.
At the same time, as you go about your new life at uni, remain open and friendly when meeting new people. Initiate conversations and always respond with enthusiasm, whether you’re on the bus or in the library- once you’ve got an established group of friends you can go back to being your grumpy self if you wish.
Know your limits
Of course, for a lot of people freshers is all about getting too drunk, wearing cringey fancy dress costumes and making a whole heap of mistakes. And there’s no denying that the drunken escapades of freshers will become the fond memories you look back on in your final year. But there’s no point in getting so drunk that you don’t remember a thing, or even worse, you don’t make it past pre-drinks. Don’t go crazy with the sudden independence of being able to drink all the alcohol in the world, you’ll feel a lot better for it the next day and you’ll actually recognise the faces of the people you met.
Similarly, it’s ok to get to the end of freshers week and have a day in bed to yourself. Making friends, partying and being uber-friendly all the time does get pretty exhausting and it’s totally fine to take a day off and have some time to yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard.
Say yes to everything
Well, within reason. Don’t do anything stupid, but going to university is all about opening yourself up to new experiences. If your housemate asks you to join the trampolining society with her, do it. Even if you’ve never stepped foot on a trampoline in your life, societies are full of students just wanting to have some fun and try out something new.
Go to a student comedy night, take up taekwondo or sign up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. At university the world is literally your oyster so remain open to all the opportunities around you. No matter what you do, you’re guaranteed to make new friends while doing it.
And that person doesn’t have to be the person you’ve always been. There’s no point pretending to be someone else just appear to edgy and cool, but university is your time to experiment. Get a wild hair cut, hit up the freshers vintage fair and buy yourself a new wardrobe, do whatever you feel like. You’ll find people from all walks of life at university and no one is going to judge you for being different, so let your true colours show.
And if you feel you don’t quite fit in with your flatmates or coursemates, don’t stress. Join societies, go to events, help organise a campaign; there are literally thousands of people at university and your best friend is out there waiting for you. Just don’t expect it to necessarily be the person in the room next door.
Remember everyone is in the same boat
The number one thing to remember if you’re feeling nervous or a bit lonely is that everyone is in the same boat when they arrive at university. Nobody will have an established group of friends, and everyone is figuring things out as they go along just the same as you. So put yourself out there, be that friendly face you would want for yourself and the positive vibes will come back round.
At university you’re constantly being introduced to new people, whether it’s through your new seminar group, on a night out or through a society. Over the three years you’re there, expect friends to come and go, and don’t expect to find your soulmate on day one. If it happens, then great, but don’t panic and (we’re sure you’ve heard it before) you’ll be fine.