Making Friends in University: A Guidebook for Freshmen
A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face. — Maya Angelou
This article was written as an individual review assignment of PPL CSUI 2021
The first year of being a freshman in a college or a university can be very exciting. It feels like you are far from home and you are experiencing a fresh start. So many places to explore and many people to meet. Lots of opportunities to socialize and make friendships along the way.
As I said, exciting… right?
Not for many people like me, that’s for sure. My past self would agree that all of the above sounds more intimidating rather than exciting. I barely knew how to introduce myself when I was in high school and had a hard time getting to know even the very few classmates at the time. I couldn’t imagine myself socializing with strangers let alone making friends in a university.
But somehow, miraculously, I managed to.
And so, I decided to gather a few tips that I believe have helped me make friends in my first year in university, and here they are:
1. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible in your university’s freshman orientation (or whatever it’s called in your university)
In most universities, including mine, there will always be a freshmen orientation before the semester starts that is filled with activities for you and your peers to get to know the places in your university, the courses in your faculty, the seniors, the teachers, the staffs, the security guards, and most importantly, your new potential friends.
Believe me, this period of time is the best period in all of your university periods to introduce yourself to other people.
In the freshman orientation, everyone doesn’t know anyone. It is the perfect time to show your face and tell your name to people who want to do the same. if you’re introverted like me and you find it awkward to introduce yourself to people without any particular reason, trust me, it wouldn’t be awkward in the slightest for this period of time because everyone is going to introduce themselves in this time as well.
Always keep in mind that the people you meet in this period of time may become your closest friends in the future (because that’s the case in my experience). So, try to force yourself to meet as many people as possible in this period of time before it’s too late!
2. Tell your story
To get to know someone, you obviously need to do conversations with them. Conversation topics that I’ve found very dependable to start getting to know your peer are topics such as how both of you got accepted into the university and how both of you are doing after adapting to university life.
There is so much to talk about!
Your struggles when preparing for the acceptance exams, what your high school was like, why you chose this university or major, how you feel when you got accepted, and so much more.
I find that telling your life stories or struggles to make friends is effective because it allows people to relate to you. And what is the better way to make friends other than building relations?
I remember one time an acquaintance of mine that I’ve just met asked me to join him to take a bus together after class had ended. On the bus, we had conversations. One thing led to another, and at some point, we had conversations about how we felt about the class we had just attended. And so, I told him that I had difficulties in the class, especially during lab exercises, and I genuinely think that I got accepted into this university just because of some dumb luck from my university acceptance test.
Telling him this was like a gamble to me at the time because I think that was the first time ever that I’ve talked about my impostor syndrome to anyone in this university and I don’t know how he might think of me afterward.
I forgot what he said afterward but it goes along the lines of: “Bruh… same”.
And that gave me hope.
In the end, he and I became close friends for years, and whenever I remember that moment from the bus ride, I like to think about how far we have come and accomplished ever since that moment.
The moral of the story, don’t be afraid to talk about your life stories when making friends because there’s no better way to find friendships with relatable people rather than that.
3. Join a sports club, an organization, a committee, or any interesting activity groups available
In your first year in university, you do not want to be that person whose existence when attending university is to just study and nothing else. The first year of university is the best year to force yourself to socialize by joining a sports club, an organization, a committee, or any interesting activity groups in your university because these are the places where you can get to know not only your peers but also your seniors.
So many acquaintances that you meet in an activity group may become your friends and co-workers in the future.
I can’t count how many precious human connections I’ve had through activity groups in my first year in university. An acquaintance on an organization that I’ve joined eventually became my close friend, then another acquaintance from a committee also eventually became my close friend and also eventually became my co-worker in an internship in the future, and to top it all off, a senior from the badminton sports club eventually became my interviewer for a job in a company I’m interested in!
The point is, there are so many precious connections that can be established by joining activity groups and the first year of university is the perfect year to do so because you may never have the time to join these groups again in the future years due to how busy you would become.
4. Join or create a study group
A study among college students suggests that people who have a close group of friends that provide academic motivation and support are more likely to be academically successful and graduate on schedule.
Based on my experience, I couldn’t imagine a universe where I am at where I am today without my friends from a study group in university. If the difficulties of university studies are like a disease, then my friends are like my life support. No joke.
I believe that group studies are the second-best way to get to know people after the freshman orientation. Joining a study group is not only a good way to make friends in your first year of university, but it can also be mutually beneficial for you and the people in the study group. If you can’t find a study group, create one with a friend (or an acquaintance if you still have no friends yet). Invite those who are struggling with their studies just like you.
Put together study sessions from time to time in wherever place your study group can go to, it can be the university’s library, your dorm, or anywhere. In those sessions, all of you will study, practice, and struggle together. I’m willing to bet you would be surprised to see how much a friendship can grow after a bunch of struggling (but motivated) students strive to accomplish wonders when they’re together complementing one another. I sure was.
5. Be active in the randomly-formed group projects
In your first year of university, most group projects in your courses may most likely be formed randomly by the professors. It is formed randomly because most professors would probably understand that it is best for a student to get to know as many of their peers as possible through these group projects in their first year. Sometimes you would be lucky and get the smart and diligent kind of students as your group members, but sometimes you don’t.
Being active in these randomly formed group projects is an excellent way to not only make friends with your group members but possibly, also the friends of those group members.
From my experience, the random people in your group will remember how valuable you are to their group project. If you were active and contributed much during the group project, chances are, those people would appreciate you, would want to be friends with you, and would invite you to future group projects that are not randomly formed.
For proof, in my PPL 2021 course at my university, I have formed a group in which the members are friends that I have worked with on past group projects or friends of my friend that have also worked very well on other past group projects. Currently, all of us are friends and we’re doing very well together in our project!
And so, keep in mind that group projects may end, but friendships continue. So do your best in any randomly formed group projects!
That is all the tips from me today!
I am very lucky to have been able to make good friends in my first year of university and I hope that these tips may help you make your own friends in your own university.
Good luck and God bless.