You're settling into your new city, new home and new surroundings but it is a completely different world to the one you left behind. Those established friends who know everything worth knowing about you - the ones you spent almost every day for at least 7 years with - are discovering a whole new city of their own. Of course, they will always be your mates but right now you are going to need a few new ones for the 3 important, study-filled years that lie ahead of you.
So what's the best way to make new friends? There is no manual to making friends and it’s up to you whether you want a whole harem of friendly faces around you or just a few close, carefully chosen ones. But follow these steps and soon enough you will have filled the empty space left by your best friends from home being so far away.
Where to look?
Flatmates and course mates: The most obvious candidates to fill your friendship vacancy will be the people who you are living & studying with. The most important thing to remember is that you are all in exactly the same boat so there is no need to be shy - be sure to introduce yourself, ask questions and engage in conversation. Everybody is nervous about meeting new people so be sure to note that they are feeling the same emotions as you are. Why not keep your door on the latch for a little while rather than keep it locked? This will show your roomies that you are approachable and encourage them to stop by and say hi.
Societies: If you find, by a stroke of ridiculously bad luck that you don’t get on with either your course mates or flat mates (or would just like to widen your expanding friendship circle); then join a group you’re interested in with like minded individuals. Whether you like acting, theatre, sport, hip-hop or feel strongly about LGBT issues - there will be a society for you. Check your uni website for lists of all the societies out there. Be part of uni life and the community, and you will be surrounded by friends in no time.
Break the ice
Common Ground: An important basis of any new friendship is having something in common. This might be a favourite movie or band, you might have both come from the same town or visited the same holiday destination. Maybe you both went to Glastonbury last year, or saw Beyonce at the MEN arena? When you are chatting to somebody new, any shared experiences or backgrounds highlight how well you could potentially get on.
Dutch Courage: If, like most students, you like the odd drink or two then this is a great way to bond with flatmates and classmates alike. In the interest of encouraging responsible drinking you don't need to get paralytic; just a few drinks will lower inhibitions enough for you to let your guard down a bit. Of course, drinking games will get you all a little more plastered than a few beers or spritzers in the pub but are a great way to get to know your new friends. After a round of Ring of Fire, I can guarantee you will all be best buddies. And if you are arranging a few drinks, how about making it fancy dress? It not only shows you are willing to have a laugh, but can make a night out that little more memorable. Oh and regarding costumes, don't hold back - being a student is all about having fun, and an epic fancy dress outfit will earn you serious kudos with your peers.
What to do
Food, Glorious Food: If alcohol isn't your thing - or even if it is - don't forget the equally awesome bonding powers of some good food. If you like to cook or bake, now is the time to show off your skills and use them to bag a few friends. Everybody wants a housemate or friend who can serve up the perfect curry, prepare a hangover-conquering roast or whip up a batch of cakes. Set aside a night where you take it in turns to cook for each other, or if there is a chef in the house then you can all put money in each week and have a food night. And if no-one wants to cook one night, then go out and enjoy the restaurants and cafes your city has to offer. Big cities have an endless and vast array of places to choose from, whatever you fancy. And to save the pennies, eating pizza is an easy and cheap way to spend an evening with mates. Whether you choose to dine in or out (or even order a takeaway) then these are all great bonding opportunities with your friends. And if all else fails, serve your housemates a nice cuppa and bond over that instead.
Culture Vulture: Whilst drinking is considered a hobby (and a way of life!) for most students, sometimes it’s nice to skip the night-out and do something else instead. Be cultural and go to the theatre, a gig or a museum. Explore the city together, go shopping and stop for lunch. Sit down and watch a film or go to the cinema. If you really want to build a proper friendship then it should be about more than just downing shots together. Real friendship is about getting to know someone properly, not just on nights out.
Social Media Helps!
Embrace modern technology and use Facebook and Twitter to discover various groups online aimed at students at your uni. Societies will have their own websites, Facebook pages and twitter feeds. There will be a Facebook group for freshers starting your university, or studying your subject. Make sure you have a good look online for these and you will be instantly meeting a great group of people full of potential best friends. I have personally made a number of good friends who I met through a Facebook group, so I know it works!
Most importantly, just make sure you are having fun. Yes, uni life and all this studying can be hard work but enjoy free time with your flatmates & classmates, speak to them, get to know them and they will soon become your friends!
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