With all these articles and calls from mum about how your friends at uni are doing, ‘making friends’ starts to feel like a chore. Gotta chat up these people at my lecture and network, network, network!
But rarely do we actually think of making friends in uni as a fun thing instead of something we have to do. As an introvert, I know how scary it can be to be the one to speak up first, but as scary as it is, I would do it again and again – and this is why.
Friends who study together, get good grades together!
I’m currently in my first year of law, in which we have to meet a GPA requirement to progress into second year. This makes for a seemingly competitive environment where everyone’s running a constant race for a spot in law school. At least, that’s what it would seem like if it weren’t for my support system – a group of law kids who unashamedly sit together in the second-to-front row in lectures and singlehandedly keep the age-old question, “have you done the readings yet?”, alive.
Twice a week, we make it a point to meet up to discuss content in the upcoming lectures, bounce ideas off of each other, analyse the rubric – and we’re all the better for it. Classes are more than just their content: they’re who you walk to lectures with, who you work through difficult concepts with, what time you get lunch and with who, who you partake in both the breakdowns and the celebrations with – they’re who you learn with; and braiding your social and academic lives together can make both better!
The surprising power of social outreach
Uni is a several-year journey through which there will be ups and downs. During the downs, it’s essential to have people to turn to.
Catching the dreaded “freshers’ flu” is practically a rite of passage when starting university, and I was no exception. A hefty case at that too, to the point where I’d fall behind due to brain fog and nights where I would fall asleep for waaaay longer than my deadlines would permit.
While I was confined to my blanket fort, someone from my floor made me honey-lemon tea and brought me a handful of lozenges. To her, it may have been a simple act; but to me, it was a deliberate act of kindness that turned a ‘down’ situation into something a lot more bearable – and now, we’re great friends!
And just out of interest, some other fun stuff my friends have allowed me to experience that I will keep close when I look back on my first year in uni!
It’s important to find people to need and be needed by. As much as we hate to think so, friends won’t simply materialize out of thin air. You do have to put in the effort, but the good news? It’s worth the effort. Here are some of my tips on getting the ball rolling!
1. Bring candy
Food is a (unofficial) love language. 90% of the time, people will accept the offer and take a piece of candy – and you can start the conversation from there! It just starts off the interaction with good energy and is bound to set people in a good mood. As for the other 10%, it’s still a great way to begin the conversation and shows the other person that you’re putting in the effort to get to know them. So, the next time you stop by Countdown, consider grabbing a pack of something sweet. Tropical Mix Hi-Chews have a high success rate, but other lollies should do too!
2. Everyone loves a good compliment
When was the last time you received a genuine compliment and thought ‘I did not like that’? I’m guessing never. Compliments have an even higher success rate than candy! Be specific about what you like about that person; it could be their outfit, their stationery, the stickers on their laptop… Sincerity is key.
3. Not everyone will be your friend
At the risk of sounding cliché, not everyone is going to like you and you’re not going to like everyone. It’s just the harsh truth, but the beauty of putting yourself out there and meeting people is that the more people you meet, the more you’ll meet people you like.
4. Keep the fun in it
Like how I began this blog, don’t let it feel like a chore. If you don’t feel like talking to anyone that day, don’t force yourself to. All I’m saying is: give it a go. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced networking environment uni can sometimes be, but progress at your own pace. Form connections you want to form. That way, you keep the fun in it.
We need people… and people need us.
I’m only in my first year, but there’s one thing I know for sure – we really cannot face uni all alone. There will be moments where we need support – a different perspective, light conversations, a listening ear, or even just time spent in gentle, tranquil company. When we make the effort to know others, we invariably find stories of endeavour and faces to turn to – and trust me, forming genuine connections with people at uni is invaluable.
Uni can be intimidating, overwhelming, and a chock-full of work at times – but having people you can be intimidated and overwhelmed with makes all the difference. I hope you find people to need, and people who need you. I have a feeling this is all gonna go by really fast.