Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Don’t panic! Tips for making friends at university

Congratulations! You made it to Warwick. It’s time to collect your key and unpack that overloaded suitcase. While you’ve probably packed everything you could physically need for your room and studies, university isn’t just about lectures and essay deadlines. It’s about all of the people you’ll meet when you arrive at Warwick.

Starting university can be a daunting experience, let alone in the middle of a pandemic. Yes, your welcome week is going to look a bit different from the ones that previous students had, but the opportunity to create friendships is still there. With that in mind, here are three pieces of advice for new students on campus.

As intimidating as university might seem, most people will be feeling exactly the same

The first piece of advice is don’t panic. As intimidating as university might seem, most people will be feeling exactly the same. Feeling anxious or homesick is a perfectly normal response to such a big change, and of course, not everything will go to plan. If you produce a culinary disaster or get spooked by a goose – don’t worry. It happens to the best of us and will happen again.

You must remember that even the people who look confident might also be worrying about making friends or being liked. Everyone has their own unique background and personality, and adapting to your new surroundings might be harder for some than others. However, this is nothing to feel ashamed about. 

The second piece of advice is to look around and get involved. There won’t be any foam parties or club nights for the time being, but there are still lots of ways to meet new people. The most obvious way to find people who like what you like is to join a society or sports club. 

The best way to make lots of new friends is to get involved in a diverse range of activities

When it comes to societies, there is something for everyone. Many of these societies will be unable to host their usual events but have adapted in response. In my first year, I joined a couple of sports clubs and even though they weren’t for me, I did meet some great people. 

The best way to make lots of new friends is to get involved in a diverse range of activities. No two societies are identical. I have met very different people from very different societies, but all I would consider good friends.

As well as the usual societies, look around for events and opportunities. I met some of my friends by accident when waiting to hand in a quiz team’s answers at a pub quiz and by collecting a free water bottle at a fair. Not everyone is going to be an extrovert and sometimes friendships can start in unlikely places. Embrace it, just be yourself, be respectful and try to have fun.

There isn’t a secret guide hidden which reveals how to spend your first year

A further thing to mention is your flatmates. They are not just ‘the people you have to live with’. In my welcome week, we went to events together and it helped us get to know each other. Even two years later, many of us are still living together. Try cooking together, playing games or even just chatting. Initially, you might be tempted to just sit in your room, but you are going to be with these people for the next few months at least. A simple ‘hello’ can go a long way. 

Likewise, the people doing your subject clearly already have something in common with you, so try talking to them. Just try things out, do what makes you happy, and engage with the things going on around you. There isn’t a secret guide hidden which reveals how to spend your first year. You might have an awkward date or realise you aren’t into a particular sport, but that’s all part of the experience. 

If you do make a mistake don’t worry too much

My final piece of advice is just to be kind. The world is going to feel a lot bigger than it did during sixth form and you will encounter plenty of people who have different identities, histories, and passions. This diversity makes Warwick such an exciting place to be.  If you want to make friends, you’ve got to be friendly in the first place. You won’t make very good friendships with those in your corridor if you’re blasting out music when everyone is asleep or stealing other people’s food.

First impressions aren’t everything, and if you do make a mistake don’t worry too much. No-one expects perfection but being considerate will help you make friends in no time at all.  

As everyone gets ready to start another year at Warwick, I’m looking forward to meeting plenty of new people. I’d wish you all luck, but when it comes to making new friends I’m sure you won’t need it.

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