I spent most of my first year staring at the giant tree that blocked all natural light from coming into my window. In short, I did not have many friends. In fact, for the first semester, I didn’t have ANY. Thankfully, some wonderful people took pity on me in the second semester (thanks Heidi!) and my life got immeasurably better.

Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt since coming to uni is the power that friends have to enrich your life. As someone who has always been introverted and preferred my own company, I always thought I didn’t need friends. But, at uni, it turns out life is really lonely when people aren’t forced to hang out with you for six hours a day at school. Ever since I dragged myself out of my room and into the common study areas with Heidi (thanks again dude, you’re the reason I passed Law 131), studying – and life in general – has been way more fun.

As much fun as my beloved tree and I had together, I have to say that having human friends is a little more fulfilling.

Anyone can make friends; it’s all about the effort you put in. Friends don’t fall into your lap. You have to go out and meet people. I know, that’s scary, but it’s a lot less scary than getting to the end of your first semester and realising the only people you’ve talked to have been your tutors…not that I would know how that feels. You might meet people, and you don’t get along – oh well, go meet some more. Here are my tips to make friends at university, so you don’t spend a year watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine and scrolling through posts of people out having fun…again…not that I would know.

Hang Out In Common Areas

The only friends you’re going to make holed up in your room watching Netflix are Rachel and Ross. And trust me, NOBODY wants to hang out with Ross. If you live in the halls, sit in the lounge and chat to the people out there doing the same thing you are; trying to make friends. If you live at home, sit in the Quad, or on the floors in the library where you can talk, or chat to people outside your lectures and tutorials. Speaking of which…

Talk To People In Your TUTORIALS

Talking to the people next to you in lecture theatres can be massively intimidating. Often, you won’t get much in response; people just want to get in and out. But, in tutorials, class sizes are way smaller, and there’s often group work that forces you to talk to each other (score!). Take this opportunity to steer the conversation away from work (don’t tell your tutors I said that) and ask where they’re from, what their major is, whether they like the course, etc. It’s a great chance to get to know people in a more relaxed and personal environment.

Make The First Move

Don’t sit in the corner silently and hope someone talks to you. I promise, I swear, I PINKY swear, that no one will think you’re weird for coming over and talking to them. It’s not odd, it’s completely normal. It’s a good idea to talk to people who are already standing alone. That way, it’s not intimidating for you to approach a group, and the person will probably be glad they’re no longer feeling lost and alone. That said, you shouldn’t pester people who clearly don’t want to be talked to, but those people are pretty few and far between. Read the situation and respond how you think is best.

Friend/Follow People

If you talk to someone and think they’re really cool, don’t let that slip away. Ask their full name so you can find them and follow/friend them. Make sure you either run into them again or message them. Good topics to message about include assignments, lectures, things happening on campus, and things you could do together like festivals or markets. Make sure you’re building connections, not just making first impressions. If they’re not responsive, don’t sweat it; you’ll meet some other people.

Join Clubs

Clubs at uni aren’t just for chess and knitting (though I’m pretty sure those exist) – there’s something for everyone. Like meat? Join the meat club! Like debating? Join DebSoc and argue until you’re hoarse! There’s language clubs, the Stray Theatre Company, Kayaking groups, and every other thing you can imagine. Head over to the Clubs Expo in the first weeks of each semester and look around to see what you like. Better yet, chat to some people around the booths! You’ll end up in a club with a bunch of awesome people who share your interest – a veritable buffet of potential friends.

The people I’ve met through the Stray Theatre Company have been universally awesome. If you’re a drama kid, or you’re just looking for some fun, I highly recommend you join!

Join Your Faculty’s Student Society

The easiest people to make friends with are those studying the same thing as you. You’ll likely see them in classes and tutorials, and you’ll always have common ground to talk about and joke about. So, get involved with your student society’s events and study sessions to meet like-minded people. You guys can study together and form bonds over difficult tests and memorisation techniques – what every great friendship is made of. You’ll be contacted by your student society in your first couple of weeks, so make sure you’re checking your emails.

Go To AUSA Events

The people at AUSA work incredibly hard to put on some awesome events. Make sure you take advantage of them. People go to them to have fun and meet new friends, so it’s the ideal place to hang out and see if there’s anyone cool. Lots of UoA students are cool, so the odds are good. Not me, but lots of others.

These tips are all well and good, I hear you bemoan, but how do I actually start talking to someone? All too easily, my friend.

Follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Ask them if you’re at the right room/location (even if you know you are). If you’re not on campus, go straight to step 3.
  2. Thank them for telling you.
  3. Make a comment about how hard it is to find your way around university. They will agree, because it is.
  4. Tell them your name.
  5. Ask them their major.
  6. Ask where they’re from.
  7. Let the conversation go from there.

Everyone is feeling the same as you – awkward, a little afraid, and really hoping to meet some cool new people. Just embrace the awkwardness of that first exchange, because it’s universal. You’ll feel a lot better when you have some friends to laugh about it with.