10 Easy Ways to Make Friends at Uni
As we hit O-week, another university year is about to begin. Plenty of students, fresh out of high school and ready for their first year, are about to take on one of life’s most exciting periods, but these early days can feel a little daunting. University can mean a new environment, new experiences, and for some people, it’s even a new city or country.
It’s normal for students to struggle to meet new people at first, but the good news is that pretty much everyone is in the same boat as you. Every fresh cohort goes through those awkward first few weeks of not knowing anyone else, so there are plenty of ways for you to make friends, establish yourself in a social group, and put your best foot forward. Study buddies, classmates, and even lifelong friendships often arise from these early days of university, so we’ve put together this handy list to help you out.
1. Study Groups
You’re at university to study, right? So’s everybody else! There’s a reason the study group is the core of the hit college sitcom Community.
One great way of meeting people, particularly early in the year, is to start looking for (or to start) a study group in your course. Try an online learning app together.
This is a great way to meet people with a similar timetable to yours who are studying similar subjects and classes, meaning you’ll have similar free time available to hang out socially as well. You can benefit from social as well as educational support, and get some help with your homework while you’re at it.
Try getting coffee before your study group, or asking if people want to hit the student bar after. You could even make flash cards together as a fun bonding activity!
2. Clubs and Societies
Something we do really well at Australian universities is our club and society structure. Every major university, and most of the minor ones, has a wide-ranging student-run structure for a whole bunch of societies. University societies are one of the easiest ways to meet like-minded people with similar interests to yours. Hobbies are not only great for your mental health, but a great way to make friends, too.
No matter your interests, there are probably other students who love it as much as you do, and having something you’re passionate about in common is a great way to make friends.
Some staples of student societies are anime, niche genres of music, and hobbies.
Looking to take up a fresh interest? Join clubs. Get out of your comfort zone. Maybe there’s a fencing club, or a sports fan society for you to join up with. That leads us to…
3. Sports and Fitness Teams
Nothing says “built-in friendship groups” like team sports. Having a team working towards a common goal. Every university has representative teams, but even if you’re not an elite athlete joining up to play for fun is a great way for friendships to grow naturally. Staying active will be great for your physical and mental health as well.
It’s a structured, regular social activity with an element of friendly competition. You might even find yourself with a brand new passion for your sport of choice!
Most universities will have teams for major sports like soccer and rugby, and there are plenty of clubs on most campuses for boxing, tennis, and other less team-focused sports. Some of the finest sporting grounds in the country are at our unis, and you might even get to travel for away games – and the greatest stories always seem to come from travelling.
4. Helping Out
A lot of people move cities, or out of their parents’ place, to go to uni. By the way, if you’re moving, Forbes has a great list of tips to help with that. A great way to make friends is simply to offer to help people move in. If you’re flat sharing, set aside some time to help your new flatmate get furniture in, or even pick out a couch and furniture together. You’ll have something to talk about, too. Offering assistance to your new flatmate or classmate is a great chance to make a new buddy.
It can be a little daunting to do favours for a person you don’t know, but you’ll establish a rep as a nice person and hang out with a potential new friend in the process. Plus, there’s a generally accepted notion that there might be a six-pack or some pizza in the deal for you!
5. Faculty Activities & Social Events
Certain faculties lean towards tight-knit student cohorts. Arts and business at any major university will have thousands of students enrolled, but more selective degrees like law, education, or engineering, often have faculty-specific events for their cohort.
In these degrees, you’ll often spend the next three (or four, or five) years with the same cohort. Leaning into faculty-oriented activities is a great way to make friends and meet new faces early on, that will stay with you throughout uni.
6. O-week Activities Are A Staple of University Life
Ah, O-week. The English call it “freshers week”, but for Aussie students, the “O” stands for “Orientation”. These days, “O-Week” often lasts more than a week, but there’s no time on campus quite like O-week. There will be events and entertainment every day, and celebration parties at the end of the week. Uni life wouldn’t be quite the same without it.
O-Week is one of the best times to meet new people, precisely because everybody is in the same boat and trying to orient themselves within a brand new environment.
7. Find New Friends In Community Spaces
Your uni probably has at least one library, at least one student bar, a common room, and plenty of other community spaces on campus. Student spaces are full of potential new friends – food courts, lunchrooms, and quiet study spaces abound at universities, and that’s exactly where you’ll find your fellow students. Instead of studying alone, try studying in the library.
Maybe read at a cafe on campus, or go for a solo beer at the student bar. Other students, like you, are looking to make new friends, and these spaces are exactly where you’ll meet fellow students.
8. Take Initiative
Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor. To meet lots of new people, put in the effort. If you want to go to a party, why not throw a party? If you want to hang out at the student bar or in a coffee shop, invite your classmates to come along with you. The more, the merrier.
Remember that, at uni, everyone’s there for the same reason! Take initiative, be the classmate who invites people out, and you’ll have people to hang out within no time.
9. Remember You’re All in the Same Boat
It’s easy to feel pressure to go around socialising and making friends. That pressure can easily get us down and make the task feel overwhelming. Remember that just about everyone at uni with you is in the same situation as you are.
You’re all there to learn, enjoy new experiences, and meet new people. Go easy on yourself and appreciate that you’re all in this new world of the university together.
10. Some Events Won’t Work Out
You’ve signed up for every social club at O-week. You’re going to every party you can. You’ve helped people move, organised study sessions, and you have a regular post-class appointment at the student bar next to your Thursday afternoon lecture.
Take a breath, and accept that not all of these activities will result in a new friend. Don’t worry if some societies won’t have events that work with your schedule, some people won’t want to hang out after class, and some courses simply have too many students for you to form a close cohort of classmates. That’s okay!
Your mission here is to enjoy the ride and appreciate the things that work out. It’ll be way more fun that way.
University is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it’s a long way from your comfort zone. New experiences, a new environment, and new friends are all part of the package. Keep an open mind when meeting new people, accept new experiences as they come, and go easy on yourself when looking for new friends. There are plenty of clubs, societies, and events for you to join up with at this stage of the year, and taking action now is the best setup you can have for an active, fulfilling social life as you go through uni.
Try the tips above on how to make friends at uni, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and above all, enjoy the experience!