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Student Blogs: Five ways to make friends at university

University life will provide you with many opportunities to meet new people. Some of these friendships may last for the entirety of your university experience, becoming a little too accustomed to each other’s favourite post-clubbing takeaway order, and regular assignment breakdowns. Other people may just be a familiar and friendly face in the lecture theatre. Both are, however, really great types of friends to have.

But the idea of making these new friends can be incredibly daunting. This is where Freshers' Week (and the first few weeks after this) come in. It offers the perfect opportunity to put yourself out there and get to know as many people as you can. Of course you will continue to make friends throughout the year, but everyone is in the same, slightly nervous, slightly lost, boat during those first few weeks. Have a look at my top five ways to make friends during Freshers' Week and beyond:

1. Be open to new opportunities

When the pressure of exams and assignments has yet to set in, there are no excuses for not experiencing lots of new things during this early stage. Have a look at what events your university has planned...from themed nights out, to foam parties, organised trips to the nearest IKEA and film nights in the SU… there is definitely something for everybody. Putting yourself out there can be scary, but is really worthwhile doing. You will come across so many different people at events like this that you may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet. Get involved!

2. Try and keep your door open as much as possible

A doorstop will be one of the best investments you can make in your first year. It’s such a simple gesture, but it goes a long way to letting your housemates know that they are more than welcome to pop in and have a chat. Emotions are running very high during the first few weeks. Homesickness, tiredness, the dreaded Freshers' flu. Sometimes a friendly chat, a cup of tea and a biscuit (or ten) is exactly what you need to make you feel a bit better. Some of my closest uni friends are my first year housemates, who I spent many a day or evening sitting with and talking to about absolutely everything and nothing. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to talk to them if you’re open to doing so.

3. Sign up to clubs and societies

There is a society for nearly every single weird and wonderful interest you can think of at university. Tea appreciation society? Sure. Harry Potter society? Absolutely. Along with your more mainstream sports teams, drama societies, music clubs etc. If you have an interest, play a sport, or want to start a completely new hobby… visit your university's website and sign up! Clubs and societies offer the perfect opportunity to meet lots of new people from across your university, who you already have a common interest with; a really good start to any friendship. It’s also a good idea to try and create some friendships that are separate from your living situation. It can be very intense to live and socialise with only your housemates. If that’s what you want to do, then by all means. But getting to know people through clubs and societies will allow you to have a bit of breathing space, and to get to know a wider range of people.

4. Get to know friends of a friend

Widen your social circle. Some of my housemates already knew people from their hometowns at uni, meaning we would often go to pre-drinks together or end up finding each other on a night out. A lot of these people I am still great friends with today, but probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet without our ‘friend in common’. Equally, I was lucky enough to have some of my closest friends from home at my uni. This meant I could meet their housemates and course mates, and get to know them throughout the year. Make the most out of these first few weeks to meet as many people as possible.

5. Keep an eye out for Facebook page updates

University Facebook groups are a hive of activity, especially at the start of term. Make sure you go through and like the pages of your accommodation, school and subject society to stay on top of all the latest news. Many courses will run socials throughout the first couple of weeks and later into the year. Get your white t-shirt or ridiculous fancy dress costume ready and meet some people on your course! Socials like this are a fun and easy way to break the ice, and get to know the people who you will be working alongside for the next few years. This then means you’ll always have a friendly and familiar face to sit with in a lecture or seminar.

Friendship making is an ongoing process… but start as you mean to go on. Be open and willing to meet new people this term, and you will undoubtedly create some life-long friends.

Ellie is beginning her third year at Cardiff University, studying English Language. She also writes a blog ‘Forget the World’ about lifestyle and university experiences.

Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.

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