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How to make friends at university

Making friends is one of the main things students worry about when they first arrive at university, but believe us, it's much easier than you'd think. Here are a whole bunch of ways you can do it.

how to make friends at uni

Credit: Channel 4

Every new student worries about making friends at university - fact. And while it's true that everyone is in the same boat, we also understand that not every boat is exactly the same.

So whether you're living at home or moving away, whether you're a big fan of nights out or not interested in drinking at all, we've got tips on how to make friends to suit every student.

These tried and tested methods can be put in to practice right away (before you even arrive at uni for some!) and are guaranteed to help you settle into uni life with your new pals.

We share our own experiences and extra tips for making friends at uni in our freshers' week podcast special!

How to make friends at uni before you arrive

  1. Join Facebook groups

    It might take a bit of detective work, but there's bound to be Facebook groups for your course, halls or university in general - all of which are a great way of introducing yourself to people before you even get to uni.

    Don't become too much of a Facebook stalker, but comment on relevant posts, DM people or add them as friends as you see appropriate. At the very least, you'll have some friendly faces who you can recognise when you arrive.

    While you're at it, don't forget to join the Save the Student Facebook group for tips and advice from current and former students on everything from the best student bank accounts to the best restaurant deals.

  2. Pack the right things

    freshers packing essentials

    Credit: Jenna Marbles

    You've probably got loads of things on your university packing list, but there are a couple of things you should take that might help you make a few friends when you arrive.

    You should definitely take a doorstop with you - keeping your door open is super important for meeting and making friends with your new flatmates.

    It's also a good idea to take some games like Twister, or at the very least, a pack of cards for drinking games, as these are a great way to get everyone together at the start.

Then it's time to start prepping for freshers' week! Here are our top survival tips.

How to make friends at uni during freshers' week

  1. Help your flatmates move in

    making friends uni

    Credit: Columbia Pictures

    When you first meet your new flatmates, it can be difficult to know where to begin - but offering to help them move their stuff alleviates some of that awkward small talk.

    Having something practical to do will help you both feel more relaxed, and in the process of moving their stuff, you could spot a common interest you both have (without being too nosy, of course).

    But if they have a guitar, and you also play the guitar, then you've instantly got something to talk about!

  2. Keep your door open

    We've mentioned this before, but we're going to say it again since it's so important. Keep. Your. Door. Open.

    People will be way more likely to pop their head in and say hi if you do - a closed door suggests that you don't want to talk to anyone, or that you haven't even moved in yet!

    Keeping your door open also means you'll be able to hear what's going on outside, and will be able to greet new arrivals.

  3. Make your room look nice

    decorate uni room
    Following on from this, you need to make your room inviting if you want people to come in and talk to you.

    If you don't bother to unpack, or leave it in a complete state, no one is going to be keen on coming in.

    But if you throw a couple of cushions on the bed, hang up some posters and generally keep it neat and tidy, you can invite people in without worrying about dirty clothes lying on the floor.

  4. Go to freshers' events

    go out early save money

    Credit: Film4

    Ok, so you probably could have figured this one out for yourself, but it's worth emphasising that there'll be LOADS going on during freshers' week. As scary as it might seem, you should try and throw yourself in as much as possible.

    Of course there'll be the usual nights out, bar crawls and UV raves. But if that's not your scene, universities often organise day trips, guided tours of the city or even trips to IKEA if you're in need of some flat essentials.

    Whatever you decide to do, try not to spend the week hiding in your room, but get out there and show your face as much as possible!

  5. Hang out in the common room

    Speaking of hiding in your room, we all know that the best way to watch Netflix is in bed surrounded by your favourite snacks, but you're not going to make many friends that way.

    Try hanging out in the kitchen, living room or common area instead - it's likely people will constantly be coming and going, so you can chat to them when they do so and you might find someone to become your Netflix binge buddy.

  6. Offer to make tea

    make tea make friends

    Credit: Universal Pictures

    On move-in day, after a night out, while you're all sat around watching TV - whatever the occasion, offering to make a cuppa can work wonders.

    Doing the tea round shows that you're a caring person, encourages everyone to sit around and have a chat, and can help everyone to feel more at home in their new surroundings.

  7. Don't get too drunk

    drinking-at-uni

    Credit: Warner Bros.

    Freshers' week is, to a certain extent, all about getting drunk and embracing the freedom of university life. But don't be THAT person.

    Your flatmates won't appreciate it if they have to drag you home at midnight because you were chucked out of the club, and they'll appreciate it even less if they have to clean up your vomit if you're sick all over the kitchen. Yup, these things happen.

    Try to exert some self-restraint and don't go overboard. Besides, it's hard to make friends if you can't even remember their names the next day.

  8. Join a mentor scheme

    Credit: NBC

    This is something you should definitely keep an eye out for during freshers' week. Many courses offer mentor schemes where freshers' can pair up with second and third years who will show them the ropes.

    Having a friend at uni who's older and more experienced than you is super useful for many reasons - they can give you the lowdown on the best modules and tutors, the quietest library spots, the hidden lunch gems on campus and a whole host of other stuff.

    Plus, if you're worried about making friends, they'll no doubt have loads of tips to share on how they did it.

  9. Go to your course induction

    When you get caught up in the hype of freshers' week, it can be easy to forget that you even have a course to study. But if you get invited to a course induction session (even if it's at 9am), we'd definitely recommend you going along.

    Your flatmates might be all you care about right now - but your course is going to become a big part of your life over the next three years, so it's important to have friends in this area too.

    If nothing else, the course induction should give you a bit of a head start when you do start studying properly the following week!

  10. Knock on doors

    knock on doors at uni

    Credit: Warner Bros.

    So we did say that all doors should remain open, but even if they're not, don't be afraid to walk right up and knock on them.

    Why not knock on the flat next door and invite them over for pre-drinks? Or if one of your flatmates seems a bit shy, knock on their door and invite them to come watch a movie.

    It can be quite intimidating, but at the start you have to stick your neck out in order to meet new people.

Make sure to check out the 36 mistakes every fresher will make!

How to make friends at uni after freshers'

  1. Offer to cook for flatmates

    university scholarship for being vegetarian

    Credit: 20th Century Fox

    Once you're well into the term and you've had a chance to practice a few dishes, offering to cook for your flatmates can be a great bonding exercise.

    Pick something easy and simple that will appeal to all tastes, and ask everyone to chip in for the ingredients so you're not out of pocket.

    Eating around a table together is a great way to properly get to know your flatmates and can help cure homesickness. Plus, if you're a good cook, everyone will love you for it.

  2. Sit next to people in lectures

    If you turn up to a big scary lecture theatre where you don't know anyone, the easiest thing to do is scurry to a seat on the back row and sit on your phone until the lecture begins.

    But if you want to make friends on your course, try sitting down next to someone and introducing yourself. You never know, you might hit it off, and if you don't, you only have to maintain the conversation for 5-10 minutes until the lecture begins. Easy!

  3. Join societies

    join societies to make friends
    Another simple way to make friends that people often forget about. Most universities have literally hundreds of societies, so you're bound to find one or two which suit your interests and tastes.

    Once you've signed up at the freshers' fair, make sure you go along to meetings and events regularly. It can seem a chore at first when you don't really know anyone, but stick at it and you'll soon make friends who'll make you want to keep going back.

    Plus, getting stuck in with extracurricular activities looks great on your CV!

  4. Organise a study group

    paying library fines

    Credit: DHX Media

    Long hours in the library can get lonely, so why not rally some of your course mates to organise a study group?

    Ask around in lectures or after seminars to see who would like to join in, then set the time and place. Not only is it sociable, but you're bound to get some tips for your essays and referencing too.

We've got loads more tips on how to survive shared living without falling out with your flatmates.

How to make friends at uni when living at home

  1. Introduce yourself

    friendly at work

    Credit: New Line Cinema

    If you're living at home, you're not going to be surrounded by fellow students most of the time like those who live in halls, so you'll have to make the effort to introduce yourself to people when the opportunity arises.

    It can seem scary, but remember than everyone is in the same boat and will be just as keen to make friends as you are.

  2. Ask to stay over at friends' flat

    stay at home save money

    Credit: Nickelodeon

    If you want to get involved in the big nights out, but are worried your parents won't be too happy if you rock up at 4am, try asking a friend if you can stay over at their flat.

    It might seem a bit of an ask, but no one will really care if there's an extra person asleep on the sofa at the end of the night.

  3. Go for a society committee position

    Societies are important for all students at university, but if for those living at home, they can be a lifeline.

    If you really throw yourself into it, you could end up finding your university family. Show some dedication and go for a committee position at the end of first year.

    Being given a level of responsibility with the society will not only impress future employers, but expose you to loads of new people - and potential new friends!

  4. Invite people for lunch

    office politics

    Credit: Paramount Pictures

    If at the end of lectures and seminars you find that everyone is just scuttling back off to their own lives, go out on a limb and ask someone if they want to grab lunch.

    People will appreciate you taking the initiative and they'll no doubt prefer that to eating by themselves.

  5. Study in the common areas

    Instead of going home to study, why not try studying in one of the common areas in your department?

    That way you'll be able to introduce yourself to people as they come and go, and could even set up a study group with other students. It's way more exciting than studying in the silent area of the library, anyway.

How to make friends at uni without drinking

  1. Find the right societies

    There's a perception that societies involve horrendous initiations and excessive drinking, but in reality this is only true for a fraction of them.

    Find societies that appeal to your interests, whether that's watching movies, baking or video games, and go along to their events and meetings. Some might involve alcohol, but the majority probably won't, and they're a great way to meet people similar to yourself.

  2. Ask for a quiet flat in halls

    quiet flat at uni

    Credit: Warner Bros.

    If you want to move away from home and live in halls, you can enquire with your university about designated 'Quiet Flats'. These are flats for those who aren't really interested in all the drinking and nights out freshers' week often entails.

    That way you'll be able to make friends with likeminded people, and won't feel pressured into getting involved in drinking activities you're not comfortable with.

  3. Organise day trips

    organise trips at uni

    Credit: Paramount Pictures

    There's loads of fun things you and your friends can do at university that don't involve nights out - you just might need to be a bit more proactive in organising them.

    Do some research into fun (and cheap) activities you can do in the local area and organise your mates. They'll probably appreciate you taking the lead and organising something a bit different.

24/7 drinking and parties is just one of a number of myths about university life - don't fall for it!

Making friends at uni - Do's and Don'ts

tips for making friends at uni

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

DO
  • Compliment people - It feels weird at first, but this is the perfect way to initiate a conversation with someone new
  • Say YES to everything - Well, not everything - but university is all about trying something new and getting out your comfort zone
  • Use existing networks - If you have friends from home or family members at the same uni or in the same city, get them to introduce you to their friends
  • Show an interest and listen - Genuinely listen to what people say and respond like you care (even if you don't). People will notice and want to keep talking to you
  • Make multiple friendship groups - Your flatmates aren't the be all and end all; it's best to have multiple groups of friends in different areas of uni life
  • Remember names - We know it's hard when you're meeting so many new people at once. Try repeating it back to them when they introduce themselves!
DON'T
  • Be messy - Don't give your flatmates a reason to hate you
  • Get too drunk - We've said it once and we'll say it again. Stay safe and try not to become a liability for your friends to look after
  • Judge people - You're probably going to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds, but don't judge people just because they're different from yourself
  • Put too much pressure on friendships - Becoming friends with someone on day one doesn't mean they have to become your BFF for life
  • Become someone you're not  - You don't need to impress people, and they'll appreciate you more for being your authentic self.

Got any tips for making friends at uni that we've missed? Let us know in the comments!

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