It can be very disorienting when you walk into Uni and you don’t know a soul. You get flashbacks of your first day at school, that moment right when your mum turns and walks away and you pretty much have a panic attack. At least you know that at Uni – like primary or high school – everyone’s going through the same thing.
Finding your people is really important. The sooner you find friends, the sooner you start to feel like yourself, instead of some kind of weird stranger who can’t get a conversation to save your life. It’ll happen, just follow some of our suggestions.
It can be hard to fit in when you’re new but it’s always best to be yourself. Don’t worry about how you must appear to others. There’s an old saying: “What other people think of you is none of your business” and this can be really comforting to remember.
If you’re a bit of an introvert, don’t try to step too far outside your comfort zone and compete with more outgoing people. Vice versa applies too. Being your authentic self will help you to more quickly find friends because you’ll meet others with similar values, likes and dislikes.
What are your favourite activities? What are your hobbies and passions? Make a list of those and then seek out groups that cater to those things. If you love poetry, you’re bound to find a poetry group on campus. Maybe you’re a keen sportsperson. Excellent! There are tons of sports groups at Uni, both competitive and recreational. Universities are hotbeds of interest groups. You could very well find one dedicated to those who appreciate butterflies and bugs or one that’s all about flying kites.
Interest groups are also great for expanding your horizons. Maybe you’ve never flown a kite before but the idea sounds intriguing. Get out there and join the crowd who’s trailing kites around the oval!
There’s always a party happening somewhere on campus! Ask around and see if you can score an invite. And don’t forget to take your own drinks.
Find out what events are happening such as movie nights, tennis games, fun runs, barbecues, chess matches and book club hang-outs.
There are all kinds of things you can volunteer for such as feeding the homeless, refereeing a sports match, packing swag bags for the homeless, cooking, driving, looking after animals or cleaning up nature reserves. Organise one volunteering session a week and you’re sure to strike up a healthy friendship with others.
If you’re genuinely looking to establish friendships, then ask yourself what you value in a friend. Is it honesty, conversation and a study buddy? Or do you want friends you can get a little crazy with on weekends? Do you want a big group of friends who go out all the time or just a couple of close friends you can count on for social get-togethers and the occasional movie? Make sure you check in with yourself that what you are looking for is what you can offer too.
Once you’re settled in to Uni life, you can invite some people over to your place for drinks or lunch. Or, listen out for people talking about the latest sitcom or reality TV show and invite them over to watch an episode. A couple of drinks, some munchies and a place to sit and watch TV can be very enticing for others, like you, who don’t have a lot of money to throw at going out.
Follow hashtags to do with your Uni. That way, you’ll soon enough find activities happening on campus or among students that go there too. Join a Facebook group that appeals to your interests and get in there and comment and be visible.
Is there a popular bar or takeaway outlet near your Uni? Go there and grab a drink or a burger. If you see someone you’d like to meet, ask them what they’re drinking or eating to start a conversation. It doesn’t always work first time so plan to go once a week and pretty soon, you’ll begin to notice who the regulars are. And hey, you’ll be one too, so you’ll have that in common! A good tip here is to find out when the student discount days are. That way, you’ll save money and it’ll definitely be a day when you’ll meet others who are similarly cash-poor.
So your room is small and you don’t have the same creature comforts you did at home. That’s fine; the common areas of your accommodation are the best places to meet new people! Cook a meal or even make some toast in the kitchen when you hear there are people milling around. Offer someone a cup of coffee or one of your sandwiches. Go to the Rec room and see what’s going on. A competitive game of table tennis will get you some attention, whether you win or lose.
Consider leaving your door open when you’re in your room. It sends a message that you’re approachable and friendly and you never know who might come a-knockin’!
You’ve got enough going on to send you into a mental spiral like you’ve never experienced before. There are all those new surroundings, trying to find your way around, figuring out your tutorials schedule, worrying about money and the logistics of how you’ll fill your belly every day.
You need a couple of friends, stat! Solitude and loneliness, especially in an unfamiliar environment can be very isolating and lead to minor anxiety or depression. Nip those little concepts in the bud pronto and get out there and find your new friends. If you really find yourself struggling, make a visit to the campus Chaplain for a chat or drop by one of the social clubs. The sooner you get your posse together, the sooner you can get down to the serious business of studying and you’ll fly through your classes and exams.
If you do find yourself feeling lonely, depressed or anxious, reach out for help without delay. Again, try the Chaplain or contact one of the many assistance organisations such as Beyond Blue.