One of the things I was told multiple times before going to university is that “it’s what you make it”. Which seems kind of obvious, to be honest, and I was a bit bemused by it at first. Of course it’s what you make it, I thought. Everything is.
But there’s definitely a big shift between college/school (if you’re going to university straight after college) and university. Not just in terms of learning, but also in terms of social experiences, and most experiences you’ll have here overall. Of course you’ll make friends in the usual ways, by sitting down next to people in lectures and saying hello, but that’s still relatively limiting. At university, you’re not only supposed to learn about your subject: the university experience encompasses much more, and learning from the people around you is part of that. If you restrict your circle of friends to people who study exactly what you study, you may well miss out.
“It’s what you make it” means get out there. Go out and meet people intentionally. If you’re an introvert like me, that doesn’t sound like fun, but there’s a lot of introverts at university and you can find kindred souls if you try. The simplest way is just by joining societies. You don’t even have to buy a membership until you know it’s suited to you: attend tasters or message the page asking if you can come to the session just to get a feel for it. If you like it, come back again.
Societies and clubs are absolutely an integral part of making friends here at university. Whether it’s a teamwork-based sport, watching movies, playing tabletop games or cafting, there should be something that suits you and it will not only help you make friends but also stimulate your brain with an activity other than your studies.
Another way I’ve found is to engage with the local community. Forging links with locals is incredibly important, particularly on such a small campus. Going to the market and local events is a great way to go out and meet local business owners, and supporting local shops and eateries regularly will not only introduce you to locals but also other students who really appreciate the community.
Of course, the obvious way to make friends, and for me, the most effective, was just by making friends with my flatmates. Two of my first year flatmates are my best friends at the moment, and we’ve forged very strong bonds through sleepovers, movie nights, flat meals etc. There’s no way to avoid bad flatmates in first year (if you get them), but by putting yourself out there and trying to make those things happen, or even just hanging out in the common area after having boiled a full kettle, is a failsafe way to make connections. They might last you for life, so keep trying!