Now everybody loves a good confession, so here is one from me: when it comes to making new friends – I struggle (a lot). This is partly because I’m confident on one level, but shy on another. I could write a book on how ‘not’ to make friends, but 1) that wouldn’t be THAT useful and, 2) no one would read it!
My freshers week last year wasn’t exactly a smooth ride. I started as I meant to go on: from a hospital bed to central London then onto a club night and finally woke up in my bed the following morning with a devil cape on (don’t ask because I don’t know). Six days later, I went home for the weekend because the feeling of homesickness was just too much for me to cope with. A mixture of being too drunk most nights throughout the first week and crying most days because I wanted to go home so badly was not a fantastic start to my ‘new’ undergraduate life in the Capital.
However, once I got past having awkward brief conversations before lectures with my classmates, I quickly became friends with many of them. Also sitting next to people in giant lecture theatres helps, and if you are stuck for an opening line, then ask them something about the course or lecture topic (even if you know the answer)!
Societies are another way to make friends, especially if you have an interest in politics, sports, arts or even something specific, for example cider, knitting, baking or Harry Potter. You will find a society that will suit you! And if you don’t? Then start one! I joined a Journalism society at my university called “The London Globalist” and went along to one of their meetings. They had free pizza and coke to hand so that made it a little bit more relaxed. Although, my reading list started to drown me (I used to be a non-reader after all, yup you heard me, I don’t like reading) so I didn’t have time to go along to many more of their events. A similar thing happened with Feminist, The UN and Amnesty International society, however, I remained on their newsletter throughout the year to keep up-to-date with them! In my first term I had an article published in our student newspaper, this gave me a slight talking point when it came to making new friends as sometimes they recognised my name from that. All of these things collectively helped me to make friends, but it took time, a lot of time.
I didn’t make friends overnight, nor did those who I met during freshers week remain my close friends. All is not lost when you realise that Joe, who you met in the lift, isn’t going to be making a speech at your wedding or Barb, who you met in the student union toilets, isn’t going to be the one you have afternoon tea at the Ritz with.
Friendships are built up over time. My best friend at university is like my twin, we first bonded over a love of the X-Factor and Harry Styles. However, I had her number for weeks before I text her, and I think the first text was asking a question about something uni notes related. Within a few days, I was included into her group of friends and we were going Christmas shopping in Selfridges. In the space of a week we had been to Nandos, Winter Wonderland, ice-skating at the Natural History Museum and I wondered why I hadn’t text sooner.
University made me incredibly unhappy to begin with. I was behind on the reading, my essay results were terrible and top it off, I had no close friends and no one to talk to about what was going on. Every time I went on Facebook my friends from home seemed to be loving their halls and flatmates, going out every night and overall appeared to be having the time of their life. I wasn’t, in fact, I was hating life and deeply regretting my choice of university. But, once I found a nice group of people to spend time with, everything got better.
The best advice I have is: put yourself out there. Don’t hide away in your room, like I did at first. Go to events, okay, they will probably be nerve racking and incredibly awkward but everyone is in the same boat! Another good tip is to add yourself into Facebook groups, for example, one for your halls, freshers or any society that you are interested in. It is so much easier to speak to people over the internet, especially if you get all shy like me!
Once you have found some people to hang round with, then it is important that you make an effort! Invite them to activities, out for dinner or just round to your flat for a movie night. But try not to be too keen, that can actually put people off!
Trust me on this one, university life isn’t that bad once you have a group of friends to share it with!