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How to make friends at university

9 September 2016
Learn how to meet new people at uni

Sparking a conversation with a stranger can feel awkward, especially when you’re new to university. Here are five of our tried-and-true tips for feeling confident, getting involved and increasing your chances to make friends.

Starting uni can be a lonely time if you don’t know many people on campus. Making new friends can seem daunting but it’s important to realise that everyone’s in the same boat.

We recently interviewed some of our current students to ask their tips for making friends at uni and this is what they had to say.

Making friends at university may sound simple but we know it can be challenging, particularly if you’re shy, so we’ve broken it down for you in these five steps. Take control of the situation and you’ll meet like-minded people you’ll want to hang out with after class.

1. Be yourself

People are drawn to other people who are confident and comfortable with themselves. Knowing your social limits and what genuinely makes you content will help you come across as authentic.

Everyone starts university feeling awkward. It’s easier to talk if you have something in common, so choose your moment. Engineering and Commerce student Hazim suggests to “say hi to the person next to you in class and don’t be shy”. In line for a coffee, ask someone if they’ve tried the lunch food and what they’d recommend. Or find someone in class who’d like to work on an assignment together and turn it into a study group.

2. Get involved in what interests you

It might be obvious, but join university clubs and societies that fall within your areas of interest. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – if you love metal music, stick with the University of Sydney Metal Society and hear more about it from Liam. Also consider doing good through volunteering.

3. Use the people you already know

Meeting people is a game of probability – the chances will remain low if you leave uni straight after class and head for your couch for some solo TV binge-watching time.

Research has shown that the average person knows about 600 people and maintains social relationships with about 150 of them. Consider how many of your friends’ friends are only a step away from you, and – bonus – they’re vetted by someone you trust! Join your friends at more social events and your social circles will grow naturally, as long as you take the initiative and stay in touch with those new people you get along with.

4. Increase your chances through randomness

If you’re shy, having a plan helps. Before heading out to a party, decide on a colour and challenge yourself to strike up conversations with people wearing that colour.

“Develop a taste for coffee”, says Kevin, who studies Commerce and Science. When planning your lunch break, head out to a café in an area of uni you’ve never been to for new surroundings and people.

The Meet and Move app launched in July: download it for free to meet a bunch of random students and staff at a designated spot and follow a route together, getting fit while socialising. You can also win prizes for group selfies.

5. Live on campus and know the support available

Your accommodation options are vast. Living with other students away from home puts you in the close proximity of a whole lot of new people. You’ll learn to be independent, to mingle with a diverse range of people, and to feel a part of and contribute to a community.

Finally, be kind to yourself and know that making friends makes you vulnerable and takes time. If you feel weighed down, come have a chat with our friendly and supportive counsellors. Our Counselling and Psychological Services have helped many students in your position, and there are workshops all year round to skill yourself up. For immediate attention, seek crisis help.

Meet as many people as you can from all different years because they can all help you in different ways.
Alex, Science and Commerce student

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