“Friends you make at university will be friends for life!” – we’ve all heard it at some point. For some people, making and keeping friends is second-nature. They walk into a room of strangers and feel at ease! And others – less so… I don’t know about you, but in those few days before I came to Cambridge I was so anxious about making friends. I think a lot of us put pressure on ourselves to make instant connections and to form close friendships right away. This can lead to anxiety, stress, and self-doubt when you don’t immediately find your perfect group. So if you feel like you haven’t found your crowd yet, don’t worry! These are my 7 top tips for making friends at uni!
1) Make the first move
So you walk into your 9am lecture and look up to see a sea of unfamiliar faces. Scary, right? Wrong! I promise you, everyone’s just as anxious as you are to make friends, so just say hi and introduce yourself to the people sitting next to you! Confidence is attractive, and you know the saying: ‘fake it ‘til you make it’. Once you get past the initial awkwardness of the ‘name, college, course’ conversation, you’ve got one more friendly face in that crowd!
2) Get out of your room
I know the call of Netflix and pyjamas is hard to resist (trust me, I do) – but be strong! Hungry? Knock on your neighbour’s door and offer to make dinner, or get a group together to go to the cafeteria. Bored? Message someone to see if they want to hang out. Need to study? Go to the library with a flatmate. Take every opportunity to socialise, and try to use communal areas as much as possible. A quick kitchen chat is still better than no chat!
3) Try not to judge people
We all do it. You probably have an idea of your ‘type’ of person, but don’t let that limit who you make conversation with. I once met a girl in school that I thought was totally mad, and I thought that we’d never get on… I was right about the mad bit, but she turned out to be the best kind of mad. 7 years later, we’re still best friends. People can surprise you! Try to keep an open mind.
4) Join a society
Turning up to an event by yourself or trying a new hobby can be a bit daunting to say the least, but now is the time to do it! Everyone is in the same boat, and having that interest in common with someone can be a great ice-breaker. Societies can also just be a good way to let off steam – and after all this angst, God knows we’ll need to!
5) You don’t have to cling to the first people you meet
Just because you’re friends in the first term, doesn’t mean you have to be besties forever! Try to make separate friendship groups in your course, societies, etc. because you might not get on with everyone in the long-run, and that’s OK. Also worth mentioning – maybe don’t get college-married with the first friend you make… If you don’t stay friends, it could make for some very awkward family nights next year!
6) Keep in contact with friends from home
Cambridge can be very hectic and it’s easy to get swept up in the bubble, but don’t forget about the friends you have back home! Particularly if they’re off at another uni, I’m sure they’re feeling all the same things as you, and will really appreciate a phone call or text every now and then.
7) Don’t stress!
There’s plenty of time to make friends, and just because you might not have found your BFF in the first term, doesn’t mean you won’t later on. You probably haven’t spoken to everyone in your lectures yet (unless your hidden superpower is small-talk), and you’ll continue meeting people throughout the next few years that you’re here. Remember that there is no deadline for finding your crowd. Just keep making effort to get to know new people, and go at your own pace. You’ll find your niche sooner than you think!
If you are looking for mental health support in Cambridge, be sure to check out the resources at Find Support Cam