Agony Aunt: Struggling to Make Friends in First Year

HELP! I’ve just got here, and I’ve got no clue how to meet people! How do I make friends??

Let me start with saying this- believe it or not, we’ve ALL been there.

When I arrived at Devonshire Hall, my first-year halls way back in 2015, I was petrified. I didn’t want to leave my room, I just wanted to cry, frankly. I felt like I was placed in this completely foreign environment with all these new people, and I literally forgot how to initiate a conversation. Perhaps you’re coping a bit better than me (which is great, well done!) but if you are struggling to make friends, here’s my list of top tips for coping with your first couple weeks at university:

  • Remember, above all, that everyone is in the exact same boat, some people are just better at hiding their nerves than others. This is the advice that my dad gave me, and I didn’t believe him at first, because it seemed so impossible that the seemingly “cool” kids could be freaking out too. But once I did speak to people and get to know them, I found out that they were just as lonely and scared as me. Hindsight’s a wonderful thing.
  • Try to say yes! It feels so easy to shy away from everyone and everything and stay in your room forever, but if you give yourself just sixty seconds of courage, amazing things can happen. Say ‘yes’ to that Facebook invite, post in a group to say you’d love to hang out with course mates, reply to that text and meet up with flatmates in the kitchen- just go for it! Be brave for a minute and nine times out of ten you’ll be so grateful you did.
  • Don’t put pressure on yourself. You probably won’t meet lifelong friends within the first couple days, let’s be real. But any progress is good progress, and anyone you meet provides another opportunity to meet even more people. So, give yourself time, take the pressure off, and just try to focus on the bigger picture.
  • Keep yourself busy- make plans alone or with friends, just to keep your mind occupied. If you have plans, you’re more likely to stick to them and less likely to wallow in self-pity. And the more you’re out the house, the more opportunities you’ll have to socialise.

There’s no rush, you’ll be here for a while and the best friendships will come along when they’re meant to.

  • Equally, having said that, make sure you give yourself time to recharge too. Netflix is sometimes a well needed respite. When you need some introvert time, have a night in, do a face mask, watch a movie or have a sitcom marathon, whatever tickles your fancy. The key thing is finding your own balance between quiet time and socialising. Everyone is different, so you do you.
  • Clubs and societies will come along once University properly starts, and they are such an easy portal into meeting people with common interests! So, go to the fairs and the ‘Give It A Go’ events, see what you enjoy, and make the most of the opportunities to meet new potential friends!
  • Finally, just be yourself. It’s lame and cliché, I know, but the only way you’re going to make real pals is by being you. Just stay calm, keep smiling through and take your time! There’s no rush, you’ll be here for a while and the best friendships will come along when they’re meant to.


Anastasia Barnes