Moving to university doesn’t have to be daunting. It can be exciting to think about starting a brand-new phase in your life, studying something that you’re passionate about and advancing your knowledge while meeting like-minded people.
A huge change in your life can lead to uncertainty and affect your mental health. The results of an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey showed that 39% of new students in 2021/22 had symptoms of anxiety.
But there are ways to keep yourself grounded and reduce these worries and feelings of anxiety. Social interaction and having a support network of friends can do wonders for your mental health.
If you’re moving to a new city in an unfamiliar environment, how do you make friends? In this article, we’ve put together a guide to socialising and meeting new people at university.
Social media is your friend for friends
With 87% of students using social media apps, these platforms offer one of the easiest and best ways to connect with people who have similar interests or are on your course. Universities often help new starters connect together by creating dedicated groups for courses. Sometimes, these groups may include your lecturers too.
In these groups, you’ll sometimes have past students, who’ll set up posts that take you through the basics for the course. They might even give you checklists of everything you’ll need. There will often be an introductory thread where you and your coursemates can introduce yourselves to one another. It’s optional to contribute to the discussions or even join the group, but it can take away a lot of the pressure of being in a new place. What’s more, you can get to know your new coursemates before you meet them.
Freshers’ week – socials, icebreakers, club nights, and much more
Whether you went through the traditional application process or selected from the Clearing courses available, freshers’ week is a huge event for everyone. It’s an opportunity to meet new people from a variety of backgrounds and explore what your university has to offer.
It’s not all about drinking – in fact, some of the best opportunities to meet new people come from the alcohol-free events. Freshers’ fair is always a fantastic way to get an overview of what’s going on around campus, with societies and groups advertising what they have to offer. You don’t have to sign up for everything, but picking one or two areas of interest means you can get a feel for them and meet people with shared hobbies or passions. Usually, these societies will hold icebreaker sessions for new students, so it doesn’t hurt to go along to introduce yourself.
Of course, for the lovers of nightlife, freshers’ week has a lot going on. Nightclubs in student cities put on special events for newcomers, as well as events organised in your student union. Checking out the spots that will soon become your locals is always a great way to spend your first week in your new city.
University help and support
There’s no set timeline on adjusting to university life. It can be an easy transition for some and a touch more challenging for others. There’s no shame in finding it difficult to manage your own wellbeing, adjusting to a new location, or making new friends.
Universities are taking action to help struggling new students, with many starting programmes to combat loneliness and isolation among both new and returning students. Some universities also offer mentor/mentee buddy systems. Students in their final years will volunteer, so when you start, you’ll have someone to check in with you and see how things are going. They may schedule check-ins just to see how you are at different points in the year.
Figuring out where and how to socialise with likeminded people when you get to university can take the edge off once you’re there. There are plenty of ways to make your first connections, whether it’s through social media or in person at freshers’ week fairs and socials. The key is to not beat yourself up over finding it hard to adjust. University is a massive life change, and living away from home for the first time can bring a whole host of new challenges. Remembering that everyone is starting in the same place can help you to centre yourself and look forward to learning and making new friends.