by Jeongeun Park, Senior Resident
Starting university is a huge transition for all new students. It is a new adventure full of exciting opportunities as well as enormous challenges. Building a support network is vital in adjusting to university life. Making friends sounds easy, however, in reality, it can be daunting and requires active effort and skills. It is completely normal to feel anxious to leave behind close friends and make new ones. Here are four simple but essential tips that you can take to make this process fun and less stressful.
#1 Attitudes matter
Being passive is not necessarily helpful when it comes to meeting new people. Don’t wait for others to speak to you first. You may feel awkward to introduce yourself first or feel intimidated to make the first move. This is all normal but once you step out of your comfort zone, you will get to meet diverse people who will reshape your worldview. At the same time, being open-minded and proactive is different from being someone who is NOT you. You don’t need to feel pressured to act in a certain way. Meeting people in a healthy environment is equally important – you need to feel safe and comfortable being yourself.
- Read more about healthy relationships here
- Feeling shy or anxious? It is normal and you can find general tips here
- If you would like to speak to well-being experts, you can browse services here
# 2 Know your interests
A simple fact of life – you cannot please nor like everyone. It is common to come across people who don’t necessarily share common interests. To increase chances to meet like-minded people, one strategy you can employ is to identify what YOU like. It can be your academic interests or think about what you normally like to do in your free time such as learning languages, listening to jazz music, cooking, poetry, sports, clubbing or watching movies. This exercise will help you narrow down the scope of the search for groups to join.
#3 Know your options
One (easy) way to find new people is to join societies offered by the University of Bristol. It is often less intimidating to introduce yourself and communicate with new people when sharing common interests. The university hosts an extensive range of academic and non-academic societies. It is always beneficial to proactively do some research on them and stay tuned to any upcoming events.
You can browse the Student Union website to learn about student-led societies, volunteering opportunities, and events here. The university also offers a SU fair where you can meet actual members from societies. You can also look up societies affiliated with your academic course. They often have their social media channels. Find out what’s on at UoB, and keep up to date with the ResiLife team, who often provides fabulous events and activities by following their socials, or checking out their weekly newsletter – UoB ResiLife Facebook and UoB ResiLife Instagram.
To meet new people, researching and planning are not enough. It needs to be accompanied by action. Come along to freshers events or taster sessions. No need to impress anyone. Just enjoy and the rest depends on luck.
If you manage to find some like-minded people from your course, hall or events, how about inviting them to hang out? Maintaining a relationship is often more important than finding new people when building a sense of belonging. Don’t hesitate to take initiative such as asking for a coffee or walk. You can host a dinner party or game night (under the limits of residential rules in your hall). Don’t forget that there are so many things to explore in Bristol with your new friends such as an art-based walking tour or visiting museums – find what’s on in Bristol here.
And for a few more practical tips the BBC have also come up with their own list of what to bring with you!