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How to make friends at university

9 September 2016
Build your friends circle and enjoy uni life

Sparking a conversation with a stranger can feel awkward, especially when you’re new to university. Here are six 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 may seem daunting but it’s important to realise that everyone’s in the same boat.

Some of our current students have shared their tips for the best ways to make new friends, making it that little bit easier to settle into uni life.

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 start a conversation 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”. If you're in line for a coffee, ask someone if they’ve tried the lunch food and what they’d recommend. You could also find someone in one of your classes to work on an assignment with and turn it into a regular study group.

2. Find your people

The list of university clubs and societies is endless so there’s plenty to choose from, and you don’t always need to stick to what you know! While it’s great to join clubs that suit your interests, why not try something new? There’s heaps of options, and even more opportunities to meet new people and make friends from all over the world. Did you know there’s a global exchange society? There’s even one for musical theatre!

3. It's not what you know, it's who

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. Step outside your comfort zone

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.

5. Live locally

Your accommodation options near uni 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.

5. Know you've got support

Finally, be kind to yourself and know that making friends makes you vulnerable and can take 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.

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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