One of the biggest fears everyone has when they start somewhere new is whether they will make friends. This tends to be magnified when moving home where you don’t know anyone at all, like those who are preparing to start their first year at university. One of the most asked question on new student forums is ‘will I make friends at university?’. The simple answer is yes.
Obviously, if you stay in your room all year and refuse to talk to anyone then people will probably stay away from you but, unless you do that, you are going to make friends. Not making friends was something I was really worried about before I came to uni. I am not a very outgoing person and enjoy my own space and spending time on my own. I find it really hard to relate to people and I am definitely not a party animal. I have a lot of quirks which make me a little bit different and I live with chronic illnesses which mean I can’t do all the things that you would expect a first year student to do so I had lots of reasons to think people would leave me out. But I did find friends. You find people you get along with and as the year goes along you find the people that you really click with and who are likely to be your friends for a long time.
Do whatever feels right to you in terms of making friends and it might sound like a cliché but try to be yourself from the first day as much as possible. If you start Welcome Week pretending to be someone else, you are going to find it difficult to keep that up and then your friends have to get to know you all over again. Make an effort to do things outside your comfort zone and if you and not very outgoing like me then try to be a bit more outgoing if you want but try to be authentic. Trying to work out who you are and making the effort to fit in is part of university but in terms of your personality, your likes and dislikes, your hobbies, just you in general, try not to pretend. You will find people who like you for you.
At lot of advice out there can seem particularly tailored to 18 year olds who are going to live on campus. However, I can offer some advice to other groups out there. First from my own experience of being classed as a mature, disabled student, I still made friends and they accept me as I am. I say this to all the mature students I talk to and it genuinely is true, your age is only as much of a problem as you make it. In my experience if you don’t mention it, it really isn’t a problem. No, I didn’t do the night club life either and my friends really didn’t mind. From the experience of others, the majority of my seminar group actually lived off campus in first year and they all made friends quite easily.
The main piece of advice to take from this is please relax, you will find friends. If you don’t find someone you completely click with straight away, you will find people you get along with and just keep finding ways to meet new people and you will get there.