You know that the main objective of university, when you boil it right down, is to come away with a top-quality education and a degree that enables you to pursue a fulfilling career.
Academic development shouldn’t be your only aim, though. This is also your time to find out who you really are, so you can blossom into the person you want to be.
One of the many beauties of university is that you get to be yourself and pursue your true interests - possibly for the first time ever. It’s only natural to follow the crowds at school and college, at least in certain ways. But at uni, there’s no expectation for you to do that.
So how can you find fellow students who share your interests? And, just as importantly, how can you establish friendships with them?
Here’s our advice.
Join a Society or a Club (or Several!)
Some people have a preconception that societies are lame, but try to keep an open mind here.
If you have a particular passion - or want to develop one - there’s probably a society for it at your university, which will put you in touch with plenty of like-minded people. Ideal friend material, in other words!
Here are some examples:
Sports societies. Whether you love running or rugby, badminton or football, you won’t be the only one.
Food societies. These can range from general food-appreciation societies to very specific ones, such as curry clubs!
Arts societies. If you’re a voracious reader or an avid filmgoer, it makes perfect sense to join your uni’s book club or cinema society, doesn’t it?
Super-niche societies. As you can imagine, these are less commonplace than the sorts of societies above, but you might just hit the jackpot. For example, there are quite a few Harry Potter societies now, and Game of Thrones ones.
If it turns out there isn’t a society for your passion, why not establish one? Someone has to start these things - and just think how that will raise your profile among your fellow students.
Contribute to Seminar Discussions
You already have a mutual interest in common with every single one of your coursemates: the subject you’re studying.
By getting involved in seminar discussions, you’ll demonstrate that you’re open, collaborative and passionate - in other words, the sort of person who’s good to be around and fun to talk with.
Of course, some people are more confident than others when it comes to class-based discussions, so you might have to start with some ‘baby steps’ - such as striking up a conversation with one or two coursemates separately. Only do what you’re comfortable doing, but if you can build up the confidence to be more vocal within your seminars, you’re more likely to be approached by your fellow students.
Stay Busy - and Say Yes to Invitations
Homesickness is a deceptive, horrible creature. One minute you’re fine; the next minute you’re feeling lonely and pining for things about home.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for homesickness - you just have to ride it out. During this time, it can be far too easy to retreat into the solitary comfort of your accommodation instead of playing the social field.
The thing is, if you get a reputation for turning down invitations and swerving social events, those invitations might stop coming in altogether. Hopefully not, but there is a chance.
You don’t have to say yes to every invite; just try to attend most of the events that you know are ‘up your street’. By getting yourself out and about like this, you’re automatically more likely to meet new people and forge meaningful friendships.
On that note...
Keep Your Door Open
University freshers are masters of disguise.
Although it might look as though your new flatmates and coursemates are taking this whole experience in their stride, they’re actually in the exact same boat as you - which means they may be feeling nervous and apprehensive, despite the smiles and the outward confidence.
Whether you’re feeling homesick or doing fine, being a good neighbour is the right thing to do. It’ll help them and it’ll help you - so it’s a mutual benefit. You can’t do that with a closed door, though, can you?
So try to keep your door ajar before bedtime (more often than not, anyway), and maybe even pop a little welcome-note on it, just to make it clear that you’re up for a chinwag and a brew.
The Student Housing Company: Helping You Along Your Uni Journey
Want more tips for how to make the most of the student experience? Keep an eye on our blog, which we update regularly with new articles - everything from student cooking tips and life advice to specific city-guides that help you really get to know your new home.