How to meet people and make friends at university

by - 6:00 PM

Whilst it is all about specializing in a certain professional area and thus progressing in life, it actually also means starting from zero in many other aspects. 

Today's post is all dedicated to one of those: friendships. 

I know it might feel discouraging at first. You're in a new environment, surrounded by new things and people you've never seen in your life before. 

So, as an upcoming final-year student, here are my tips for meeting new people and ultimately making friends at university!

Say yes to the first invitations you receive
The first weeks of events are when most groups are formed. Not only this, but responding 'no' to invitations is, most of the time, perceived as rejection. So don't let your shyness, feelings of tiredness or beliefs that 'you'll have more opportunities like that in the future' lead you to not accept.

Learn the art of conversations
This includes introducing yourself as well as mastering small talk. Being open, asking questions and seeming genuinely interested in the conversation are the main tricks. 

Join societies and sports
You've probably heard this everywhere, but this really is for a reason! Think about it: it is way easier to start a conversation when you already know you have something in common with the person!

Seek people with similar origins
Elaborating on the last idea, it might be comforting to meet people with similar backgrounds as you: those from the same country, for instance. Note, however, that broadening your horizons by also interacting with people from different origins is a very enriching experience. For instance, I now know how to speak a bit of Croatian as well as what the typical Filipino desserts are!

Proximity principle
In Psychology, this consists of the tendency for people to like more those that they see often, even if no interaction is involved.
This is due to two factors: the human preference for familiarity and the fact that physical proximity opens the opportunity for psychological proximity (similarity).
There was even a study conducted by Festinger and colleagues (1950) that showed how university students formed their friendships, with 44% being close friends with next-to-door neighbours, 22% with those living two doors apart and only 10% with those living on opposite ends of the hall.

Flatmates and coursemates
Following on the last topic, on the other hand, proximity may also predict disliking if the initial interactions are negative. For instance, Ebbsen et al. (1976) demonstrated how both the majority of friends and disliked people lived within the same area as the study's participants.
Therefore, I want to clear any wrong beliefs you may have when it comes to flatmates and coursemates. Just because you live close by or attend the same modules, it does not mean your personalities, tastes and goals are any similar. Ultimately, it is merely a small similarity so don't be disappointed if they turn out not to live up to your expectations. 

Make the first move
Found someone who you think you'd like to be friends with? Start by smiling to see if you get a reaction. If they don't approach you, ask if you can sit next to them and start the conversation. Introduce yourself, ask where they are from and if they'd like to grab a coffee sometime. Or, start with a compliment. That's how one of my most meaningful friendships started!

Attend events
Whether accompanied or alone, get involved. Your university will always have activities going on so definitely give those a try. Many people will attend so there's an opportunity right there.

Get a job
Aim for something that involves constant interaction with people, while you're at it. Even if you choose something that does not require dealing with customers, you are most likely to have shifts with other colleagues. Either way, that's more people you meet and a chance to work on your interpersonal skills.

It's usually all about the first impressions
When it comes to the first impressions you give other people, just try to act as genuine as possible.
When it comes to what others transmit, follow your intuition and stick to it because you are probably right. When people get to a new situation, the common reaction is to act as nice as possible. Nonetheless, eventually, their true personality will come to the surface, whether for better or worse. If the later is the case, don't be afraid to let go as meaningful relationships will happen with time.

Reach out to people online
I had never thought about this before but many people have reached out to me this year via Instagram. They found my profile through hashtags and locations related to my university and messaged me asking questions concerning my experience on campus and course. I actually think this is a great idea: not just to get more info about your university but also because you meet some people straight away!

Become known
In other words, why not get a higher position and become part of your society's executive committee or your department's representatives? You will for sure meet people as your duty literally involves interacting with other students.

Final thoughts
  • Above all, be prepared for some disappointments and don't expect everyone to become a close friend. Acquaintances will be plenty, but those who you connect to on a deeper level will come with time, especially when you least expect them. 
  • Don't feel like you need to constantly socialize: it actually crucial to spend some time alone.  
  • You will feel lonely at times and that is totally fine.

I hope you've found this post helpful ♥  
Any questions you have, feel free to message me!

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