I haven’t written any University-related posts before because I graduated several years before starting my blog. Recently, I was thinking about my University experience and I realised I have a lot of memories and lessons I learned at University that could be valuable to current and future students. Some of these I only realised in retrospect when thinking back on my Uni days. So here I am going to share my University tips with you!
I will be dividing this post up into several parts because otherwise, it would be too long. In this first part, I will be talking about friendships. But first, an introduction:
Where did I go to University, and what did I study?
I went to Royal Holloway University and I studied Music! Royal Holloway is part of the University of London but it’s not right in London. It’s about half an hour’s train ride out, in a town called Egham in Surrey. Nearly everything is located on one campus which means it has an amazing community feel. I absolutely loved it there and I was so happy with my choice of Uni!
This post is a general guide that would apply to students at any University. If would like me to do a more detailed, specific post about Royal Holloway, (maybe if you are in the process of deciding which University to go to) then let me know in the comments!
Making friends at University
University is a unique time because you are constantly surrounded by people who are similar to you. Most students are a similar age and have a shared goal of working for a degree. You will make a lot of friends and acquaintances, and every time you go out, you will bump into people you know, everywhere. This is especially true if you go to a campus-based University. Everyone will visit the same cafes and bars, go to the same events and study in the same libraries. It gives you a sense of community that is harder to achieve at other times in your life.
In this post, I will share some of my own experiences and tips to do with making friends at University, and about how friendships can develop and change later on.
Making friends in freshers week
One of the most exciting things about starting University is meeting new people and making friends. But this can also be nerve-wracking! The important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same situation. Nobody knows anyone, and everyone wants to make friends.
During my freshers week, everyone would just come up and talk to you – it was such a sociable time. There were so many events organised where you could meet people. I’d recommend going to them because everyone else is probably just as nervous as you, and in a way, this makes everyone actually bond and feel comfortable with each other!
You will find friends
Before I started University, I was worried that I wouldn’t find people who I would get along with. At the time, I was quite quiet and wasn’t into the partying culture that is generally associated with students (although I did get more into that later on, but that’s another story!). I worried that I would be the ‘odd-one-out’ and wouldn’t make any friends.
I needn’t have worried because it turned out I wasn’t the only person worrying about the same thing. On the first evening, I went to a social event at a student pub and ended up sharing a table with two girls from my halls. We ended up having a discussion about how we had all been worried that there wouldn’t be people like us and that we wouldn’t make friends. These other girls also weren’t into going out and partying. We were all in exactly the same boat!
After the pub, we all went back to our halls and hung out in one of the girls’ room, chatting and discussing our plans for the rest of the week. We arranged to meet up the next morning and explore the campus together. I vividly remember lying in bed that night after my first day feeling so happy and excited because I had already made friends!
When you think about it, there are hundreds of new freshers each year, so there is going to be a wide range of personalities within them. You will meet a lot more people than you met at school, so the likelihood is that you will meet lots of likeminded people!
People will naturally divide into groups
In my halls of residence, there were 22 of us in our block, sharing 2 kitchens. After a week or so, we naturally divided half-and-half into the 2 kitchens. The people who shared my kitchen were generally more reserved, and we tended to chat, hang out in people’s rooms, watch movies and play video games together.
The other kitchen was shared by the classic ‘party people’ and it was often very noisy, and full of empty alcohol cans and bottles! No judgement to them, they were all nice people and partying is a big part of the Uni experience for many people! But it just demonstrates that you will find a group of people you fit in with, whether you are the party type or more introverted.
There is no rush to meet everyone
During freshers’ week, you will meet so many different people. You might feel pressure to get to know all the people in your halls and on your course as quickly as possible before friendship groups form without you. This is how I felt! But actually, there is no rush.
On my first day, I randomly found myself hanging out with a group of people who lived in different halls to me. I think we had met at some kind of welcome event. I didn’t especially feel that I fitted in with this group, and it was constantly playing on my mind that I should go back to my own halls because I was missing out on meeting my hallmates there. Eventually, I excused myself and went back to my halls.
I definitely hadn’t been missing out though, because it turned out everyone else was doing the same and there was hardly anyone around. There are so many different events happening in freshers’ week and you end up flitting between different groups of people all the time. I gradually met the people in my halls (and on my course) and some of them I didn’t even meet until we had been there for a week! But we still all made friends and got fully integrated into friendship groups.
Don’t worry, you’ll find ‘your people’!
It takes longer than a week to settle into friendship groups so don’t worry if you don’t meet everyone straight away. Everyone will be meeting so many people at first but the likeminded people will eventually gravitate together. So don’t worry about ending up with the ‘wrong’ friends or a group you don’t fit in with – that won’t happen!
If at any point, you do end up hanging out with a group that you don’t feel you are getting on with, it’s okay to excuse yourself, like I did. You can easily just say that you need to go back to your halls or your room. You’ll soon meet more people and find a group you fit in with.
Some friendships don’t last, and that’s okay
This is true for life in general but is particularly relevant at University because you will make so many different friendships. Not all friendships last. They come and go, and some drift away.
In my second year, I was sharing a house with two girls who I lived with in halls in my first year (one of them was one of the girls I talked about earlier who I met on my first day). We got on really well, but in second year we drifted apart despite the fact we were living together. The main reason for this is that I had become especially close to some people on my course and was spending nearly all my time with them, at the expense of my friendships with my housemates. We didn’t exactly fall out, we just hardly talked to each other or spent time together.
I felt really bad for this and I blamed myself for letting the friendship go. But in retrospect, it may not have been all my fault. The other girls were probably spending time with other friends too. It’s just one of those things that happens and it probably happens to most people! I remember quite a few incidents of people falling out with their housemates, or just not talking to them any more.
Friendship groups often change when you move off-campus
It’s a totally different vibe living off-campus and with fewer people. In halls, you are shoved in with a group of people and some of them are bound to become your friends, but they won’t necessarily become your lifetime friends. It’s more of a big social group and it works because of the group dynamics. You bond over the excitement and rush of a shared experience in a new place and life, but the individual friendships may not actually be that strong.
Also, in the first year of University, you are usually only 18 or 19 years old which is still quite young. People are still developing and finding themselves. Your friends (or you) might change, and that’s okay.
But just because you don’t stay friends with someone, that doesn’t invalidate the friendship and fun times you shared at the time, so don’t let it sour your memories. I am barely in touch with any of my first-year hall mates any more – we are friends on Facebook but that’s about all. But I still have fond memories of the fun times we had in our first year of University.
Make friends with people on your course
Although this is not always the case, your most consistent friendships are more likely to be with people from your course. This is because you will be seeing them regularly in lectures and working together with them throughout every year of University. You also probably have more in common with these people because of the shared interest in your subject.
Next up: Student Life
I hope you found this post helpful, whether it has reassured you that you will make friends at University, or whether it has made you feel less guilty about a friendship that drifted apart. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences – leave me a comment below!
In part two of my University Tips from a Graduate, I will be talking about student life – how to make the most out of your time at University, whilst also looking after your wellbeing. I will also share some tips on student accommodation and studying.