5 tips for making friends when you move to University

Naturally, one of the most nerve-wracking aspects of university can be meeting new people and finding friends that you connect with. For that reason, Lauren, a History and Sociology third year student has listed her 5 top tips for how and where to meet new people in Leeds.

Moving in — making friends in your accommodation

Initially, you’ll probably be able to find your new housemates before you move in using Facebook groups and, once you do, you’re able to make a separate group chat to get to know each other during the summer. This can make the move feel a lot less scary!

When you move to your accommodation and you’re living with new people, usually you’re able to effortlessly become friends with your housemates. In the first few weeks you’ll find that you’re all just as nervous and excited as each other.

On the first night that my flat moved in together we all sat around and had a chat about missing our families and that itself helped to break the ice.

Whether or not you’re able to find your housemates before moving in, it’s a good idea to put yourself out there in the first few days. Here are just a few ideas:

  • If you’re the kind of person who likes to party, suggest to the house that you have a little gathering with the surrounding flats and get to know your neighbours. That way, you have a greater chance of getting to know more people and it gives your house an agenda — get the flat ready, invite the neighbours and choose what to wear.
  • Organise a house trip to the supermarket while you’re all still getting to know the area. Or even a trip into town to pick up some accessories for your new room and the common areas, this gives you a few things to talk about and decide together.
  • If you prefer a night in, get the whole house in your room or around a TV to watch a movie.
  • Attend some Residence Life events. There’s a full programme of events organised throughout your time in the halls to help you settle in, meet new people and try something new. In previous years they’ve organised for llamas and alpacas to visit halls, taken trips across Yorkshire and they even put on a quiz with Shaun Wallace from The Chase!

Even the smallest of activities in the first few weeks will help you to see your similarities with your flat and help you get used to one another.

Often your flatmates become friends for life

Joining Societies

It goes without saying that joining a society will help you to make friends if you all have a passion and interest for a particular sport, craft, or activity.

At Leeds there are over 300 societies to choose from, meaning that you can try several different ones to find friends you really get on with. The University of Leeds also offer free sessions for most activities meaning that you can turn up to an event and try it without having to commit.

Read Holly’s guide to joining clubs and societies

There’s over 300 clubs and societies to join

Making friends on your course

After making friends in your accommodation, I’d say that getting to know people on your course is the next easiest option. It is very likely that you’ll see the same faces pop up in your seminars and this gives you an opportunity to discuss work online or even walk to and from classes together. Sit next to them at first and try to get to know a bit more about them — where are they from? What modules are they taking this year? What university accommodation are they in? This will help the conversation to flow naturally.

This year with some classes being online you might find it a bit harder, but that isn’t to say you can’t add them on social media and chat to ask about the work. Maybe you could arrange a separate Zoom or Teams call to go through some of the seminar readings or work together on an assignment.

As tempting as it may be, don’t shy away from breakout rooms during Zoom calls, as this is how I made close friends in my history modules during the pandemic. At first this might seem strange, but if you start by just talking to one person you’ll get used to it in no time.

Although it is usually easiest to make friends while everyone is still settling into university life, I made one of my closest friends in the middle of second year. So don’t stress or give up hope if you feel like you haven’t found your best friends in the first few weeks!

Making friends on your course

Global Café

Get involved with the global café events where the university encourages all students, international or UK students, to meet in the union and get to know eachother. When you turn up to the global café and other events like this, it’s very easy to make friends because everyone else is there for the same reason! Global café usually runs every Monday evening, and anyone is welcome. Usually there are free snacks, games, and other ice breakers to make everyone feel comfortable.

Get to know students from over 150 different countries

Volunteering

Whether you decide to regularly volunteer or attend just a few volunteering events, you’ll find that you’re surrounded by like-minded people who enjoy this activity. Again, volunteering in a group makes it fairly easy to make friends, especially if you’re particularly shy, as you have something to talk about while staying focused on your task. You may feel more comfortable taking a friend along with you so you can both get to know people. As always, if you find that you tried it and didn’t enjoy it then there is no pressure to go again!

Volunteering in the community with People in Action — the band are The Vipers

Ultimately, there will always be ways to find new people and get along with them while you’re at university. If your housemates aren’t your closest friends, then the chances are that your course mates or society family will be! Remember to relax and be yourself, you will find your people in time.

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