If you’re anything like me, you might’ve been told by countless relatives that “University is the best time of your life” and that “you are going to make life-long friends at University”. Then it hits you- the fear of living up to these high expectations. The anxiousness of whether you will meet people who you click with, with whom you can share your interests with, and the people you will keep alongside you through your University life and beyond-all the above are daunting prospects to be considered. As a Master’s student, this period of my life has passed and I have very luckily found many life-long friends in the process. So here is my step-by-step guide to finding “your crowd” at University:
First and foremost it is important to remember that whilst it is great to meet people who you instantly click with, do not discount those who come from different backgrounds and have different interests to you. One of the best things about University is that, for most people, it is a chance to escape your home-town and meet people you would normally never come across. Whether that be people from different backgrounds, different parts of the country, or even different parts of the world, University is an incredible opportunity to widen your horizons and meet new and interesting people. You might be surprised to find out that you have much more in common with someone from the other side of the world than you originally anticipated.
My second piece of advice is to join as many clubs and societies as possible! Whilst you may not be blessed with sporty genes, the taster sessions offered in freshers and re-freshers week are a great way to try new activities, with many of them welcoming people at beginner level. Sports are a great way to try something new, to keep fit and meet new people all at the same time! However, if the thought of running around in the cold Durham weather doesn’t sound appealing, there are other activities you can consider. With societies ranging from Belly Dancing to a Hummus society for all you hummus lovers, there is bound to be a society where you can find many like-minded people!
Another pro-tip: Get yourself down to your College bar! The idea of introducing yourself to strangers may fill you with a somewhat excessive amount of dread. However I assure you, going down to your College bar and joining in with activities is a great way to meet other students who live nearby. It is important to remember that everyone is wanting to make new friends and fit in, hence I promise that you will not be gaped at with wide eyes for introducing yourself and asking to join in. In my experience, most people are just as nervous and probably want to meet new people just as much as you do!
Social media is another alternative: If the idea of face-to-face introductions is still too fear-inducing, try reaching out to course mates on good-old Facebook! Social media is a great way to arrange a coffee or lunch without the fear of embarrassing yourself in person. It is also way easier to chat with course mates because you already have a similar interest, and upon building on that a great friendship might be established. These initial friendships often lead to meeting even more people who will be there throughout your degree to help you through all those early 9am lectures.
The final and, arguably most important step, is to be yourself. Whilst it is tempting to buy into the idea that you can “reinvent yourself” at university, it is crucial to remain true to who you are and what you believe. If you want to make real, long-lasting friendships then the best way to do this is by being the best version of yourself. It may seem that in order to make friends you must emulate the ‘popular’ crowd who once reigned supreme at your secondary school. However, this will not allow you to meet people who are really similar to you and who appreciate you for who you truly are. You will soon find that there are many other people who are just as keen to make friends with you as you are with them, and these people will quickly become the support system that helps you through your years at University.
This is my humble advice on how to find “your crowd” at University. It is important to remember that not every moment will be spent with friends. It is completely normal to spend some nights tucked up in bed with a cup of tea and your favourite book. Making real and long-lasting relationships take time and effort and it is normal to wonder why you aren’t constantly surrounded by a huge group of people like the photos on Instagram would have you believe. Remember, everyone is under the same pressure to have the perfect university experience, whatever that may be. So get involved, be yourself, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure. Before you know it, you will realise that those who are currently by your side are in fact the “crowd” you have been looking to find.
Featured image by Matthias Schmutzer