Making friends at uni is one of the biggest things to look forward to, but also one of the most daunting challenges when adjusting to this new chapter in your life. In this article, as we stroll through the different aspects of uni life, from lectures to society and ARC involvement, we’re going to get some expert advice. Joining us with their personal experiences and incomparable wisdom on this topic, are the CSESoc Socials Directors Pip and Felix, and the CSESoc Student Experience Directors Timmy and Priscilla.
Through Lectures and Tuts
Let’s start with a disclaimer. Trying to make friends through lectures and tutorials is kind of like running on sand; if you want to make it work, you’re going to have to put in the effort. The culprit here isn’t your lack of social skills, it’s more about the setting of the learning environment that makes things difficult. People are naturally drawn to others who share common interests - the common denominator between you and the others in your class is the course you’re taking, which isn’t much to go off of. In comparison, joining a society based on your interest means that you’re bound to find someone who understands your obsessions over dogs, or whatever else it may be.
“Especially with lots of classes being online now, I found it much easier to meet new friends being involved with societies than I did in tutorials and classes.” - Priscilla
That said, with a bit of luck, a spicy conversation starter and proactive follow-up, it’s definitely possible to make friends in class! But if lectures and tuts aren’t very effective, where else can I make friends?
“Take time in the beginning of uni to come on campus and check out as many events as you can, like Lab 0, barbecues, camps or peer mentoring. We make events like these specifically to help first years meet one another. And make an effort to engage with people! Half the people I’m friends with now are because I made an effort to talk and match their enthusiasm when we first met. I promise it’ll pay off :D” - Pip
If there’s one thing that you get out of this article, it’s that joining societies and attending events is the easiest, most enjoyable, most memorable way to make friends at uni. With over 300+ societies at UNSW, there are plenty of communities that you can be a part of; even if you haven’t found one to call home, you can attend so many events that different societies have to offer. You can really get a feel for this massive variety through the O-Week stalls - imagine an ice-cream store letting you taste-test every flavour that they have! One of the best ways to get involved with a society is by joining their subcommittee. Though it is a bigger commitment, it is that much more rewarding as an experience. Check out our article on subcommittees here for more information!
Other than joining a subcommittee, how exactly can I even get involved in different societies?
“Go to events! As an example, CSESoc holds many events including first-year (and possibly all-years) camp, weekly barbecues, pub crawl, sports days, intersociety cruises, arcade visits, cocktail parties and trivia nights. This year we also plan to run more online events to cater towards those who can’t make it in-person!” - Felix
“The elephant in the room: peer mentoring!!! Studex holds the peer mentoring program and our aim is to help first years transition into uni smoothly. A big part of that is making sure you have support available when you need it, and that means including you into a group of other first years and a couple mentors. There will be challenges and events throughout the term, including events like trivia night and friendly competitions, which we hope will help you socialise within your group and with other groups. In fact, two of my closest friends started from us being in the same peer mentoring group!” - Priscilla
Of course, it can seem so daunting and nerve-wracking to show up to these events - even then, initiating conversations with strangers is a difficult task in itself. But in reality, almost every first-year has had these moments of doubt, which means you’re definitely not the only one thinking this way. Still, I’m too shy to go to events in person…
“If you are shy, involving yourself online, such as the CSESoc discord, is a great way of reaching out. The discord is super friendly and being slightly anonymous might help if you aren’t up to meeting someone in person just yet. I was pretty shy in the beginning so I did start off with being anonymous on discord, but I equally met a ton of amazing people when I started involving myself with the community more.” - Priscilla
“Start small! You don’t have to go around on campus saying ‘Hi I’m Pip, pleased to meet you’. But if you can, try and attend events! You don’t have to go into it alone cause bringing a friend or group of friends may make you feel a bit more comfortable and help you make more friends.” - Felix
As the overarching student organisation that encompasses all there is to student life at UNSW, it’s a no-brainer that getting involved with ARC is a massive step forward to making a new friend. There’s so much opportunity with ARC; volunteering, sports, buddy programs. Partnering with non-profit organisations and charities, you can kill two birds with one stone as you make a positive impact, and make friends with the students you volunteer with.
“While societies are great, there are plenty of other ways to get involved as well, from volunteering with Arc, to just showing up to events consistently. Also put effort into it! If what you want to do is to make friends, you can’t just wait for them to come to you, putting yourself out there and putting in effort is also worthwhile.” - Timmy
ARC sports is also an amazing opportunity to meet people as you stay active and healthy, whether it be recreationally, or competitively. You know what they say; friends who sweat together, stay together.
“The only thing I would add, which can really be applied to a lot of things, is don’t be too daunted by uni! I think it can be really easy to feel intimidated by other people at uni being social; focus on yourself and what success looks like for you. You might not realise it but so many other people enter uni shy and sitting in the same shoes as you are.” - Timmy
“As someone who came into uni not knowing anyone, the friends I made in uni became my support system and people I could lean on when I needed it, especially when I began to feel homesick. I would definitely say I have met friends at uni who I would consider to be lifelong friends, which has made my time at uni all the more enjoyable.” - Priscilla
“Just make sure you're having fun but also get out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Socialising is definitely worth it because most of the good things in life come from being with other people, whether it be friends or family.” - Felix
“I haven’t quite perfected juggling academics and social life just yet, but I’m glad I prioritised socialising because the friends I’ve made make academics more enjoyable because I have someone to learn and complain with :)” - Pip
Hopefully, you are now aware of all the various options you have when it comes to making friends at uni. Remember that ultimately it comes down to whether or not you decide to involve yourself, whether or not you push yourself outside of your comfort zone to attend that event, whether or not you say those infamous first words: Hey, what do you study?
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